Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Scar in the Heart of Pain: A review by Francis Jakpor for Business Day Newspaper

For the common man who bears the scars of poverty, unemployment, illness, failed relationships and societal stigma, life is indeed a struggle against the odds. There is always the inner urge to succumb to despair because the hurdles seem too high to scale while the future appears bleak. But is it really advisable to throw up our hands in despair? Isn’t it necessary to do some introspection and chart a new course that would perhaps lead to a more fulfilling life? Those seem to be the questions that Uche Uwadinachi, winner of the 2006 ANA Poetry Contest (Lagos chapter), asks the reader in his collection of poems titled ‘Scar in the Heart of Pain’.

The collection is divided into three parts: Curse, Cure and Course. Curse, which contains 19 poems – some of which are Heart of Pain, Stigma, A World of Worries, Survival, None, What, We still Mourn and In This Struggle Against Pain - paints a rather dreary picture of an individual in the throes of torment. Imagery is used to great effect, as are similes, personifications and hyperboles – all of which make the poems more true to life. In Heart of Pain, for instance, we find an individual for whom every day is “another aching day” whose heart is “injured with scars,” “cries in muffled tones” and is now “abandoned in the street of tomorrow’s mercy.” Stigma is no less fatalistic. We meet an anguished soul forever tarnished by his status in life. The scar he bears “no herbal gel can erase”. Instead, “the sun beams into his naked skin, inflicting more injuries.” Consequently, he screams for the world beyond to wrap him in its “eternal darkness”, but all to no avail. Rather than being purified after all his complaints, he is “putrefied”.

But Uwadinachi does not hang his shingle on the door of despair. In Cure, the second part of the collection (19 poems), he seems to suggest that it is not enough to rail at the cards that nature has stacked against us. There comes a time when we must confront our destiny head-on. He says “not a plastic surgery, not a royal shroud, not a quick suicide, only a confrontation of You by US can WE overcome the aged scar.” Some of the other poems in this part such as Proclaim Your Claims, Dream, Tomorrow and Successes are similarly clarion calls to action after a hiatus defined by needless pain.

In the concluding part of the collection (with 14 poems), it would not be out of place to say the poet is saying a cure for the tormented soul is not enough. Now, there is a sea of opportunities which can only be enjoyed by the truly resourceful and industrious mind. Life is now a level playing field. Our success or failure ultimately depends on how committed we are to achieving the goals we have set in life – “During harvest, some resume cultivation and others remember searching for seeds,” he says in Successes. In Proclaim Your Claims his admonition is that “whatever I bind in faith is bound in fate. Tomorrow is only a space between your fingers.”

All told, ‘Scar in the Heart of Pain’ is a great read and comes highly recommended for the youth who are constantly on a quest for self-discovery and fulfillment. Uwadinachi, a performance poet and graduate of English from the Lagos State University, has certainly proved his mettle with this one. Obviously, it is not much of a stretch to project that his subsequent collections will be just as excellent … if not more.