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What life is like for people in Nigeria -A Review of Femi Morgan’s The Year of Fire.

Title: The Year of Fire

Author: Femi Morgan

Publisher: Fairchild Media

Year of Publication: 2020

Number of Pages: 47

Category: Poetry

The Year of Fire, a collection of poetry by Femi Morgan, thrusts readers into the unpredictability of Nigeria and the world at large through its intertwining themes of suburban life, poor administration, dictatorship, violence and so on. What would you expect from a book whose title is “The Year of Fire?”

Femi Morgan, like his other professions as a media strategist and art curator, is not afraid to experiment with his writing.

Each of the 26 poems in this collection explores or depicts a range of uncomfortable emotions, such as worry, anger, shock, pain, or cruelty.

Poems range from deeply personal reflections to vivid depictions of the suffering Nigerians have endured under corrupt leadership. This book isn’t particularly thick, but it can still be a chore to read at times.

As it happens, both COVID 19 and END Sars occurred in Nigeria the same year Morgan wrote his book. The poem “COVID-19 Instructions” highlighted the importance of safety measures and brought to light memories that emerged as a result of the pandemic.

The author’s apparent affection for Jamaica is made clear by the inclusion of poems written in Jamaican Patois and a quote often attributed to Bob Marley.

Read also: The Voices of 24 Nigerian Writers on their Home Country- A Review of ‘Of this our Country’

You may find reading the poem “Time Ganna Settle It” to be a thrilling and rewarding experience; however, the poem ultimately has a serious message to impart: Time ganna settle it/ If yah writing really balm/ and ya sang really sweet/ Time gonna settle it/ If dem forget ya inna harry/ and yah don’t strike like Bob Marley

In the beginning of the book, Morgan paints a picture of a harsh and desolate world. The poems in the book’s second half, however, are not only easy on the eyes and pleasant to read, but also insightful.

More than a quarter of the poems in the second section, “Cosmopolitan angst,” take place in the Lagos area, particularly in the neighborhood of Oshodi.

One can’t help but chuckle while reading “Oshodi Symphony” aloud: A man narrates his life on vodka/ A splendid narrative of burning passion of spirit/A sparkling blend of near truths/Another grudges with his Sprite/ Wooing his prospective woman with a stringent budget policy/ Pinning away for ‘alomo’ action series

The fact that Morgan keeps writing poems about Oshodi—a neighborhood he once called home—may be fascinating to you—or terrifying.

Even if you’ve read dozens of poems and novels set in Lagos, his poem “Rude City” will make you feel like you’re learning about the city for the first time : Lagos is a rude proclamation/ A bridge across the river of Yemaja/ Cowers her to relocate/Faraway from worshippers of Pure Water Nylons/ The facade of greens airated by smoke

The only people who will enjoy reading Morgan’s poems in the first part of the book are those who have a deep and unwavering love for poetry.

Some poems may be too difficult for some readers because they are so full of flowery language that you need to constantly reference a dictionary.

Morgan has documented his anger for all of us to read; humor can be found within. If you enjoy challenging poetry, you owe it to yourself to read The Year of Fire by Femi Morgan.

About the reviewer

Titilade Oyemade is a business executive in a leading organisation and holds a degree in Russian Language. She’s the convener of the Hangoutwithtee Ladies Event and the publisher of Hangoutwithtee magazine. She spends her weekends attending women conferences, events and book readings. She loves to have fun and to help other women have the same in their lives. Email: titi.oyemade@gmail.com Social: @tiipreeofficial