Saturday, June 19, 2021

Plumbing depths of passion, hopelessness in The Calligraphy Of God


Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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The Calligraphy of God (Golean Books, U.S.; 2015) by Jenim Dibie is an inspiring poetry book for everyone going through various phases in life and encountering impediments. This book is an admirable source of hope for the hopeless, faithless and heartbroken. Dibie’s poetic style successfully stirs up empathy in the minds of readers, as they are easily able to put themselves in the situation of the character portrayed in each poem. Dibie fleshes out man’s various conflicts – the intellect, the nobler affections and passion – and contrasts them with emotions like hatred, forgiveness and despair. Not neglecting the supremacy of God, she recognises the place of God and also elevates the place of the human spirit and the capability to overcome obstacles.

Dibie’s first poetry collection is Scarcast. She loves music, photography and all forms of arts. Her poetry swings between melancholy, longing and hope. She writes about love, loss, and everything in between.

There is continuing conflict between love and hatred in most of Dibie’s poems, where love fights to overcome the hate that dwells in the heart of man. In the poem ‘Love story,’ the reader confronts the concept of love being a thorn and yet a gift that would always come running back. It is also depicted as a battle of survival where hatred tries to win, but love at last always triumphs:

“Love is a thorn you bear/To make her rose/Love is what the sea does to the shore/Love is how the shore waits for the sea/Everyone is a love story…”

The conflict between good and evil has been a reoccurring battle for the whole of mankind. From the onset of creation, man struggles to overcome evil. The poems in The Calligraphy of God demonstrate the daily battles that confront man, the hopelessness that leads to total despair, and the fragility of life. All these uncertainties of man lead to the headache and heartaches in life.

In ‘The craving,’ man’s uncertainty is depicted thus:
“We are but souls that crave from cradle to grave,/We are the ones that wave with and seldom against the tides,/The daybreaks, we seek the nightfall,/The stars twinkle, we want a full moon,/loneliness departs from us and we want solitude…”

Dibie’s simple poetic style is one of the many positive sides to her poems. In the poem ‘My broken,’ for example, it is easy for a layman to understand and follow through with the thoughts being expressed. ‘My broken’ is a poem that shows a lover who appreciates not only the good, but is also aware of the bad side and still acknowledges and embraces her lover. Despite the inconsistency in the rhyming of some of Dibie’s poems, which hopefully would be addressed in her consecutive poetry books, the easy flow of rhythm is commendable.

A good technique worth mentioning is the concept of breaking most of the poems into short stanzas, although not all the poems are written this way. Each poem carries its own unique mood, which is something the poet achieves again through her meticulous choices of words. The poems are written in a first person point of view, and they tend to sound like the narrator is telling her own life story, which makes it interesting. The reader is drawn into how the narrator develops through every passing stage and how she overcomes obstacles. The strongest poems in The Calligraphy of God are the ones, which address the passions, the hopelessness and the brokenness that man goes through on a daily basis. One poem that particularly stands out in the book is
‘Full moon:
“Weakness and strength are/Two halves of the same moon/Like darkness and light/Like fear and faith/Like despair and hope/Like hate and love/Like my head and my heart/Like fiction and truth/Like mystery and joy/Like a rose and its thorn/Like you and me.”

This poem encompasses most of the major issues addressed in the book and depicts the imperfection of the human person, and the struggle to survive irrespective of these impediments. This is basically what the poet tries to show her readers, that brokenness exists and the fight for a balance is ever present, and that after a fruitless search for the ideal, man would always run back to his source, God!

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