A Poem is Endless: Introducing Adura Ojo’s Life is a Woman Breaking Eggs
What Adura Ojo has shown us with this collection is that, indeed, a poem is endless. From ‘Happy Lizards,’ to ‘Monsters,’ to ‘Orange Rage,’ to ‘Dough,’ to ‘Sisters,’ to ‘Mali,’ to ‘Loop,’ Adura has successfully given us newer shapes and colours and the lifespan of eggs.
It might seem illusory, but it is a clear vision we get within an egg. And so Adura divides the book into parts: ‘albumen’,‘yolk’, ’woman’ and ‘shell’—all of which come as a cross section of life within whatever circumstance a being circumnavigates:the circumstance of love, of loss, of lore and language, lineage and live wires, places and perceptions, intelligence and introspection, curiosity and consciousness, nature and narratives.
Clearly, to summarize a poem is to force the sea into a glass cup—of course, the explosion would be transparent. Some poems are what they don’t mean; others are what they will later mean in time to come, while others are strangely chameleonic that they act in proportion to one’s situational senses.
The organisation of Adura’s poetry is not linear neither does it take a reader on a route without bends. The poet-personas swap presences: from first person to third to second to past tenses to perfect future tense to present tense. This happens in the poem, ‘While everyone was sleeping’. The poet here strongly relies on organic imagism, while the personas show us versions of daydreaming and sleepwalking all in a single projection.
—I walk / when everyone is sleeping (p. 17).
Many thoughts crossed my mind as I read through Adura’s poems. And halfway into the manuscript, the musings came quite disjointed like the actual cracking and breaking of eggs. It didn’t escape my attention that the poet was not only deploying non-metrical verse patterns, but was also making psychological statements in relation to the process in which humans remember and tell their stories. It is like water; that tidal fall and rise. Like memory; that design to fragment and form. And this doesn’t end there; we get a picture of common human frailties in the poems: eggs crack easy, memory, water.
But there is a strong irony or mystery in water. From mythological metaphors, water is life. The speaker in the poem says, “water is how I know / the world cannot stop me / I came home”. Here is a language of resistance and resilience. There is no demarcation nor despair whatsoever to block the way home, the way freedom, the way happiness. Because “water is how I know”.
It would seem a suggestion that Adura reveres a deity with the image of water, or points to water as a source for wisdom. While this isn’t untrue, interestingly, I see here a statement of value for natural elements, for habitat: for instance, the poem ‘Ikogosi’.
Back to the way home, to the way freedom—There’s ‘A girl’s pledge’. This poem evidently is not a one-way protest neither is it a one-way beauty. This poem is urgent. The girl has been deprived of her freedom of expression, of her pleasure; her brain and body have been manipulated and ostracized by rites and religions.
—a girl learns early / to cross her legs speak using shadows (p. 18)
She has been pushed to not use her voice, to remain in silence, to cross her legs and never open or move them the way it frees her. But she is wiser; she is not weak; she is “exposing them all”.
Adura Ojo is vocal and would repent of neither her poetic power nor her personal potentials—the woman damns social burdens and “knows her place” and manifests her million spirits and beauty and “she fulfils her desire”.
Adura’s is an artistry oral, conversational if you like, fiery and inclusive of the Yoruba performative distinctions—entertaining.
It is instinctive for humans (and other living things) to transform, to create and recreate themselves. This is largely the image Adura is making—the given that humans evolve, the given that an egg carries life in itself and will bring it out. It is suggested that the poet here is making an idiom for both the menstruating ability and the creator’s energy. And that energy doesn’t die, but changes from one form to another, because life is a woman breaking eggs. This is the premise that has necessitated the transformation from a first edition of the collection to this second edition.
Adura Ojo was born in the UK and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. A mother of two and an English Studies graduate of the University of Ibadan, Adura began to write poems when she was 16. She acquired a second degree in law and later, a Masters in social work in the UK. Her poems are featured in a number of literary magazines: Sentinel Quarterly (Champions), Sentinel Nigeria, Acumen The Poetic Pinup Revue, The Wait, a Cancer fundraiser anthology, and a host of websites. Life is a Woman Breaking Eggs was first published in 2014. This second edition of the collection features some new poems. Adura is working on another collection to be published next year.
Life is a Woman Breaking Eggs is available from Lafia Publishers UK