Beautiful One; Sensations, Meanings and Flaws
Title: Beautiful One
Category: Poetry Chapbook
Nos of Pages: 128
Publisher: Beige and Crow/Baron’s Cafe
Reviewer: Femi Morgan
REZthaPoet is known as one of the fast-rising SpokenWord Poets whose poetry engages the performance of culture, social discourses, and a deeply intense craft of finding the equilibrium between cosmopolitan troupes within the contested lines of identity. His poetry album, Exposit has been well received in notable world cities as well as many African countries. He has also blazed the year 2017 with performances at different stages in his home country, Nigeria. His new work, Beautiful One (2018) is a free downloadable book with an option of donation published by Beige and Crow.
Beautiful One is different because it takes a different route from the expectations of a poet who has been fixated by culture and identity, bringing to the poetry scene a vibrant musicality and machismo. Beautiful One is emotional, exposing the vulnerable sides of the poet-persona and every person. The poets asserts that humanity is not all about festooning arguments of racial supremacy but of the realities of emotional linkages, desires of warmth, experiences of loneliness, betrayal, lust, love and rekindling hot love making.
Beautiful One is a dangerous book. It is a book of subtle philosophy which presents multi-layered meanings for the simple while leaving the initiated to dive beyond the attraction of words to the sinews of meanings entangled in bodies of desire. In this work is a quiet sarcasm, introverted metaphors, a personification of lust, and internal rhymes that romanticizes the practice of sex. Beyond this is the narration of coming of age, nostalgia, exploration of the language of the body and the inherent weakness of the human being, the ever-present staging of memory from personal signatures to universal existential flourishing broadened by human contact.
REZthaPoet’s Beautiful One does not disobey form, as regards free flowing poetry typical of bards but he brings freshness to it. This chapbook has a certain narrative flow both in the arrangement of the pages as well as the individual poems. In other words, the book is a double edged codex where the arrangement of the book, the poem and the lines are metaphorical narratives.
The problem with REZthaPoet’s chapbook is that it may be categorized as porn-poetry. The chapbook is replete with sizzling images of ‘red flashes’. In an era where objectification of women intends to make diplomats of poets, REZthaPoet may fall short of feminists critics in this work as the shadow of worship may be seen as a hegemonic narrative of the male as authority of dispensing the posturing of lust, sex, and the exchanges of memory and metaphor between the sexes.
A reviewer does not defend the writer; therefore it is left for the poet to face the music of his literary pathway. I wonder whether REZthaPoet is afraid of morphing into a social crusader. His Spoken Word album, Exposit suggests a vociferous voice whose major works delve into subtle criticisms of identity that can be likened to the verses of Niyi Osundare, Amiri Baraka and narrowly to Langton Kwesi Johnson with his love poems as the icing on the cake of deeper discourse. Is REZthaPoet reversing the process by making the meat of the discourse, a simpler, accessible and lustful one? Is it a new strategy to make more people gather around the excitable lines that make one smile, hard, melt, whimper and lost while the bits and bytes within the core of the work continue to greet the nod of a few nerds. For me, REZthaPoet has great skills but lacks the bluntness, so he circumnavigates some of his thesis through other means other than the rebellious openness of black poets before him. This is his greatest flaw.
Femi Morgan is a writer, culture activist and curator of Artmosphere, a culture and conversation event in Lagos, Nigeria. He was longlisted for the BN Poetry Prize in 2015