Edwardsville by Heart: A Personal Odyssey

Bí ẹ̀mí bá wà, ìrètí ńbẹ.

As long as there is life, there is hope

Opening the book, you’re immediately transported to Edwardsville, where you will now be spending some of your days transfixed within the pages; able to leave, but not really wanting to. What I love about poetry and stories, — what I’ve always loved — is this chameleon like feature they have, where they can mean one thing to me and yet represent something entirely different to you. They shift and morph as they move from person to person, but they’re not the only things that’re different, you’re a bit changed too having walked in the shoes of another person. Edwardsville by Heart is, to me, a personal odyssey told in four parts: Visitor, Teacher,Student, People,Patterns, and finally, Traveller. This is a kind of highlight reel of the book with excerpts of some of my favourite poems from each section and what they mean to me.

“…In the cold, he cut a shape of a bloodied knight

Daring the windmill of caffeinated youths

In what seemed a most unnerving kind of fight…”

- The Preacher on Campus

Wanderer

“…The priest was a woman too,

Helping the agnostic in me

Out into acceptance of a different way,

Out of the restraints

Of a stiff Pentecostal past…”

- St Andrews Episcopal

Teacher, Student

“…How do you teach a state of being?

You don’t. You teach instead tone,

Do-re-mi like music on the tongue,

And greetings and norms; clothing,

And where caps bend on the head;

Dance moves to restless beats that

Skilled bàtá drummers replay

When you taunt them with a semblance of competence…”

-Being Yorùbá

People, Patterns

“…But where is father now?

What new relapses of mind

Can these texts from faraway

Convey, a distance from childhood

Where kindness cost nothing

And magic warmed through

Every part of a breaking home?

What could distance heal?…”

-Letter Home

Traveller

“… This plinth of time must serve as a totem to lit pathways

When the moon falls behind the hills, with a dry Western snore.

This step is new, but as of several aeons and several memories

Is old in the breadth of its pace, more than just a random chore.

I could ponder hope in alien lands, yet I shall not look behind

But inwards. In its charged spot are the loose moving thoughts,

Each breath a treasury of lore, new paths bearing known marks:

I live in a ball of charms which dreams and hopes have wrought.”

-This Step, This Spot.

Anthony Azekwoh is a Nigerian-based author and artist. He has written five books so far, and is now working on the sequel to his fourth book Ṣàngó, Oya.