By Anote Ajeluorou
If poetry is the shorthand for emotional outpouring, especially of a famished soul seeking healing, then Jenim Dibie’s Scarcast (WRITE Ideas Services, Lagos; 2013) is one outpouring so profuse and deep in its cathartic rendering. It’s the poetry of a soul reaching for the stars, for fellow man and for God in search of the hidden beauty in these entities to heal a world and a soul that fall easy victim to corrupting influences of love for all manners of things.
Scarcast is at once personal and universal. Ostensibly from personal (and female sensibility) searing experiences with an unnamed male persona, the essence of love, pain, hurt and human relationships are explored to the fullest. There’s the poetic exploration of the dark, interior being of the female persona, whose encounter with the outside world, represented by the male in incurable love tangle, is one of immense hurt and pain from which she struggles for healing. Starting from the innocence of love and human contact with the opposite sex, this female persona finds to her dismay that not all that glitters is gold, that there’s a slim line between love and hate and a broken heart.
More than anything, the theme of love runs through this book in all its shades. And then hurt and pain and love found again in a faith in God whose love is so immense and always reaching out to erring man, who, in his darkest moment, shuns this embracing love from God.
Scarcast is also an examination of the human race and the things man yearn for, how he seeks after his heart’s desire and hurt and what the whole essence of existence is all about. The poet, having seen through all of man’s seemingly empty struggles on earth to literally own everything in it, indulgently laughs at man for his folly in the piece ‘Culture’, where man is required to do things because it’s ‘The way of the people/The way of mindless conformity/The way of being loved by everyone…’.
But before the universal, the poet goes through acute moments of personal searing pain for giving in to love. Of course, it’s ‘The way of the people…’ But she finds to her shock that the love that everyone craves is strewn with unseen barbs of pain she finds so hard to pull from her wounded, bleeding heart. She refers to herself as the child of love, as she has lost her mind to love, as in ‘A Stitch in Time Saves Mine’: ‘A few have lost their minds to love/I am one of them/I’ve lost my mind to my heart/I’ve loved in summer/And cried in the rain/I’ve always felt I’d die young/Forget not this humble poet/ Who made words dance like none other…/She lived and loved richly/A love creature/Born of love for love to love…/My life’s been the third world war/A war that’s promised to leave the world a rose/Keep forever Jenim, the lass scared by life’s trimming…”
And so Dibie’s poetry takes sublime linguistic flight, as she paints words on pages like an artist deftly applies her brush strokes to the canvas of poetic imageries. The lyrical beauty of Dibie’s poetry is such that one poem melds into yet another one in one continuum of extreme pleasure. Take ‘Sublime’, for instance, ‘Volatile/the distance between the metal and my chest/Sublime/The moment I realise a blink will open eternity/Sorry/Five letters that slipped when I knew I was wrong/Why/The question that lingered as my memory faded to dust…/Rewind/A pause in time… I race to my past…/Love/Life’s too short to let hurt linger…/If/All my days were just one breath, what would I do?...”
The title poem ‘Scarcast’ is visual beauty in its end rhymes and leaping visual imageries. But it’s the poem of hope and affirmation of the poet persona’s belief in God and what she is capable of doing with her vast talents and her free spirit of openness in embracing the whole world: ‘I am Scarcast…/Born of God’s graces/A spirit that amazes/Eyes revealing a soul of deep gazes/Never deterred by hazes…’
Dibie ‘s Scarcast is poetry of free verses and end rhymes. ‘The Picture’ is one poem that chronicles man’s often convoluted life’s journey from birth to adulthood till he breathe his last. It’s both conversational and descriptive and packs all the emotions of pain, joy, anger, happiness and those things that make man what he is, what he is not and what he yearns to be.
But it’s in the last poem that the poet comes to a final understanding of the purpose of man – his need to have God close to her heart, as the only sensible thing to do in a world filled with so much pain from even loving someone who loves you back. Here, God’s love is in overflow and any man who neglects this abundant love of God is lost: ‘From Him Who loves us more/than anything/Remember this one thing For us He’ll do/anything/Even shed the blood of His son/Even make still the sun’.
Dibie’s lyricism is incredible balm to the soul. She writes with such lambent clarity. Her poetic vision and visual imagery are so sure and absolute they lull one to sleep. From deep emotive outpouring, Dibie shows a firm grasp of her material world and deploys her poetic power to explain it as best she could. Dibie’s Scarcast is suffused with haunting beauty and pleasantly disquieting; it’s a work of fine poetic sensibility. Dibie deserves praise for this debut volume.