Every Poem Resembles Every Being: Introducing Victor Ugwu’s Rhythms

It is easy to explain how a boring or unsatisfactory read arrived at its regrettable destination; but it is arguably near unsayable to translate the enjoyment of a poem—for the pleasure of a poem is long and wide. And so to introduce Victor Ugwu’s Rhythms is not only a difficult task, but it is a task that must be accomplished by the measure of each poem.

Ironically, Ugwu begins his book with silence—as the title of the first poem. While the eager reader is ready to plunge into the pool of poems, the poet calls for quietude, the poet provokes a reader to be still and listen to what silence is saying. And this is where Victor sets in motion the mystery in poetry: communication.

Humanity thrives on communication: the need to reveal and share feelings between humans, the need to access inarticulate sounds, even the need to embody depression, sadness, and happiness thrives only on communication.   

Interestingly, communication isn’t singular, communication isn’t always easily clear—but one thing is certain, the multiple truths of humanity are available and exchanged between inter- and intrapersonal relationships. And reading poetry is an instinctual response to recognizing relationships.

This might sound contrary to the common idea that poetry is only for people who write poems; but I come from the direction that poetry is one grace available to every living and nonliving thing in our universe. Whether abstract or simple, every poem resembles every being. It is for this reason that I concur with Ben Okri who said that “Poets want nothing from you, only that you listen to your deepest selves.”

By reading poetry, not only are you listening to your deepest self, you are listening to the deepest selves of other people that then opens a vast space for learning many forms of love—a concern and compassion for both one’s self and another’s. So, when we read about love or Eros in Ugwu’s poetry, it reaches beyond our own supposed ideas. What is happening in Victor’s poetry is transportation within mysteries and meanings, from freedom to joy to scare to scar to loss to light to mediums of healing and connecting flights of thought.

A poet will never forget certain places, and this is the point for Ugwu’s quick poetic tour of Nigeria, Uganda, and Africa as a whole. The poems on this side reflect wounded bodies of Africa. Will the poet’s country ever heal? Can the poet himself ever provide some kind of healing? It would be easy to say that a poet can never solve anything in his country; but it is undisputed the brilliance and beauty the poet makes from words. And while we can remember the biblical statement that says “In the beginning was the word,” we can also infer that the end will be the word. For words beget words.

Rhythms is that book. Not only will you steal words for their singular beauty, you will be amazed by the depth of wisdom and understanding Ugwu is carrying. I can guarantee every reader that, altogether, in Victor Ugwu’s poetry is to be found the rhythms of everyone. Everyone.

My anxious prediction is that, after reading this book, the reader will be compelled to say, like the poet:

I fear if I kiss again I’ll lick a sore

What is not tomorrow?”