Last year at the Senior Secondary School I attended in Nigeria named Nickdel, I was awarded the position of the Library prefect. During my tenure – I ensured that the library bookshelves were upgraded, and some more books were added. Knowing who and what I know now, of literature, particularly Nigerian creative writing, if I were to go back to be that Library prefect, I would add books by authors like Muyiwa Adesokun. At the time of being a Library prefect in 2013, I wasn’t a book lover, and the only books I read were textbooks out of obligation. However, I had started writing but of unfamiliar things only in the shadow of books, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction by outdated non-Nigerian authors. Even the ones by Nigerian or African authors we read didn’t fulfil the meaning our young hearts needed. It gave us words, conjured up, poetic devices, forced interpretation out of us for marks but failed to be simple enough to be enjoyed and meaningful.
Here is the first poem in Muyiwa Adesokun’s The Taxi Driver and other poems:
Not For Sale
The conspicuous sign
Hung on her father’s fence.
For the road that led
To her father’s house
But her father wasn’t
Alerting the gullible.
His message was for the
Shameless man who lived
Three streets away.
Who offered his farmland
In exchange for his
The more I read and write poetry – the more I fall in love with the simplicity of life and all the meanings it can interpret to me. Books like Muyiwa Adesokun’s, are entailed with life’s simplicity and doused in humour. His poetry and work remind me a lot of Tolu Akinyemi who actually recommended The Taxi Driver and other poems.
In an article by Tolu Akinyemi’s titled Why I Write How I Write, he enlightened on how the unnecessary complication of poetry could be why people hate it. He wrote:
Soon, I found a very simple reason for this ‘hatred’ of poetry. These people often find it ostentatious, intimidating, boring, and obscure. This rings truer, especially when they struggle to understand or enjoy what is conventionally considered as brilliant poetry.
Tolu Akinyemi continues:
These people (who ‘hate’ poetry) desire to appreciate and enjoy poetry but on their own terms. They want it to be readily relatable, to speak to them directly, simply, yet profoundly; not through an interpreter or critic, nor through navigating a tedious byzantine literary maze. These are the ones I write for.
If you are the type who wants to enjoy poetry and on your own terms, Muyiwa Adesokun’s The Taxi Driver and other poems is the right book for you. This book is a collection of poetry for those who like poetry, pretend to like poetry, and those who have the potential of liking poetry. Very simple - yet captivating and a short read (less than an hour). I am in the pursuit of reading more Nigerian authors - especially the new and contemporary ones. Muyiwa Adesokun’s The Taxi Driver and other poems met my expectations.
Unlike other book reviews where I select poems to analyze and explain – I think I’ll be doing a disservice to repeat such here concerning this collection. You just have to get yours to read it. My favourite poem in the book, of course, is the one that bears its title.
The Taxi Driver
Don’t let his incessant
Chewing fool you
Beware of the Taxi driver.
He pretends to listen
To his favourite broadcast
Oblivious to your preference
He smiles, loathes at your
Bargaining prowess or the lack of it.
Crafty balance in his superpower;
One ear on the road
The other on your conversations
Grinning at lies,
One eye on the road
The other flicks to and fro the mirror
Peeking at fondlings
Surveilling and archiving
Every detail and nuance.
Beware of the Taxi driver
Tomorrow, he will run for president
With a campaign jingle that says
Vote for me or I’ll reveal.
Before the pandemic, I used to read one to two books per week in my three hours transit from home to work, to school, then back home at night. I had become so dependent on the aura of public transit to motivate me to read. And as you can guess, more than once, I have missed a stop because I was so lost in the book. Since the lockdown, remote learning, and teleworking in March and me, not taking the transit I have had great difficulty in reading physical books. I purchased everything I thought could inspire me, but when there was no success, I went back to audiobooks. That was good, but I still needed a breakthrough – something that would bring about the hypnosis from the smell of a freshly printed book or one that has been drenched in the perfume of a bookshelf or bookstore. Muyiwa Adesokun’s The Taxi Driver and other poems is my breakthrough. This is the first book in print that I have read since the past six months, and I am glad I did.
The simplicity Muyiwa used in describing everyday life – digging in humour, sarcasm, yet poetic and uncomplicated is the reintroduction, so many of us need especially in this pandemic. This collection is an introduction to the joys in the simplicity of life through poetry. This is the kind of book that I will fill the library with if I could go back to 2013 when I was the library prefect of Nickdel.
I hope you purchase your copy, read, and cheer for Muyiwa Adesokun’s success with this collection.