I met Arinzechukwu Patrick on Instagram because one of his numerous “poegrams” and “prosegrams” spoke to me and I made a mental note to meet him on person. I couldn’t wait so I reached out to him about featuring him on the SePOETember series and he agreed. No unnecessary publicist to go through which I can say for “some other unnamed for now” poets I reached out to. *side eyes
Because I have a great love for the poem Song of Lawino, what better way to find out more and so I asked him if he had heard of Juliane Okot p’Bitek to which he replied in the negative but did a major one by actually getting the collection and reading the poems which evoked old memories, of war, of monsters, men and a movie called Hotel Rwanda. He thinks she’s a great poet and her 100 Days poem collection is the most vivid depiction of the Rwandan genocide ever recorded, and after eons it still is.
He goes on to talk about certain parts of some poems which had a firm grip on him, lines in which the images played themselves out in real time.
Some walk, crawl, cycle
dial on the radio to listen
to stories in embers
stories in stories
stories stoking stories
stories stalking stories
stories in circles & circles
“When you think of war and all that is destroyed, all that is forced to migrate you will weep. Nobody likes to start afresh. Think of all the thousands of ears strained listening to names of survivors hoping their loved one’s name was on the list of those who had survived, or those who would be rescued from the chaos. People at war crawl, some walk, those who can afford to still cycle do. People at war cry for help… and then they tell stories to those they can tell it to, to those will listen, to those who they think will help or tell it to the world on their behalf. They tell all kinds of stories, stories stalking stories, stories in circles and circles.”(Poet’s words)
Come and see how we live
Come and see how we get over everything
Come and see how we exhibit skulls
Come and see how we caress skeletons and tell
Stories about who these bones were
Come and see how easy we are with the things
Come and visit
Our country is open for tourism.
“What I realized about the poems was that it was like grief reoccurring again and again in the mind of the poet, like every day a fresh layer of wound opens and it hurts all over again. Like a widow who lost a husband she loved so much.
I once read an Instagram post about a woman who found the shaving cream her late husband used and in it was a fingerprint from the last time, and it felt fresh in her mind again, like he was there and had just used it. Like if she walked out of the bathroom he would be in the bedroom waiting to smile and speak her name, have and to hold her again. I could only imagine the pain and dolour when the nostalgia of his death hits.
I assume it is same for older folks in Nigeria who weep at what it used to be, which is if they can remember what it used to be.The poems touched me the same way. Like I was the poet and I woke one morning and it hit me that where I once knew to be beautiful has erasable scars.
What had happened to Rwanda, how the whole world watched and pitied from afar. How it ended and was then forgotten in a flash, erased from the lips of people who should speak continuously of it. And to add salt to injury,
“Come and see how easy we are with the things
Come and visit
Our country is open for tourism.”
Poem 91: …
A machete hangs in a museum in Ottawa
A machete hangs perpetually in a museum in Ottawa
A machete hangs like a mockery of time
Like a semblance of that reality
… – People forget about healing and are quick to show the world how good and fine they are now doing, how despite everything that has happened they found a way to move on, enough to wear it on their sleeves.
Poem 92: …
We wish for the silence of the mood
The quieting of ghosts
And a peace to rest in –
It was the earth that betrayed us first
It was the earth that held on to its beauty
Compelling us to return
It was the breezes that were there, and then they
Were not there
It was the sun that rose and fell, rose and fell, as if
There was nothing different: As if nothing changed. – Nature and time has no business with what man has done and so naturally they move on, evolve. It is what makes it feel like everything and everyone is dispensable, but in reality time will find a way to move you on.
There are two kinds of people who survive history, those who tend to disrespect it, forget it and then those who live it every day, whom the scars never heal. Biafrans know a thing or two about that.(Very deep words from such a young soul)
He thoroughly enjoys the poetry of Chris Abani, Ben Okri, Rumi, and his ‘inner circle of online writer friends’. He sees poetry far beyond rhymes but expressions and feelings etched on paper, needing tact and with a capacity to drain one emotionally and sometimes fears he’s sensitive enough to be a poet. He communicates with poetry the same way he does with his short stories, expressions of the soul, poetry and fiction that come alive in your minds.
He would love to playwright, produce a screenplay considering he wrote a drama piece about unwanted pregnancies for his high school end of the year play. He thinks (even though i don’t believe it) he’s lost the gift. He has written countless short stories, done a few features ( with more in the kitty), a novel and a novella which can be found on his blog. Some novels are still under construction but like the popular saying goes, you don’t rush the good stuff. However, he’s five chapters invested in his new novel but would rather not talk about “ what it is until I’m done”(Lol).
He does write from time to time and has evolved creatively based on advice given by mentors and teachers, workshops attended and friends’ second opinions. He doesn’t experience the famous “writers block” but is rather too lazy to execute creative ideas.(Mmmhmmm)
He thinks social media marketing is the future when people “remember human interaction and look up from their phones” (Hahahaha…that will be the day). He faces the daily challenges but chief amongst them are anxiety, crippling self-doubt, procrastination, depression and good old laziness. He hasn’t imagined himself in the shoes of another writer enough to take such walks as remodeling his or her book.
Lastly, he’s reserved, can’t drive (really?), squeeze the toothpaste out from the bottom like sane people (Oh pulease), doesn’t like much stew in his rice or onions in his food, doesn’t read as much as people thinks he does – just bits and pieces to get his creative juices flowing (So how do you write so well if you don’t read, the same writing makes him dismissive (I think that’s a chief writer trait..smh), gets depressed like all writers of serious fiction, eats a lot or gets on-the-spot OCD when bored, has a lot of crushes, loves lot of …..(have a lot of minors on the blog so inbox me for that bit of information. Lol).