The major themes in the Memoir of Crushed Petals include death, love, abuse and mental illness. Love is portrayed in “rape & beg” where the persona admitted raping but attributed it to his love
Memoir of Crushed Petals,
Words Rhymes & Rhythm, 2018, pp. 92
Perhaps you know him as a student of Babcock University, but Pamilerin Jacobs is also a poet. His poetry volume, Memoir of Crushed Petals, is a metaphorical portraiture of the stigmatisation of mentally disturbed persons in our society. It is a collection shrouded in the consciousness of a poet attuned to the social condition of his people. He is advocating that the status quo ante be jettisoned.
This ugly reality underscores the significance of the volume which couldn’t have emerged at a better time than now. With an attractive white and black cover and a red petal, the eighty-nine poems
and ninety-two pages volume exude the classics of the modernist tradition, proverbial, witty and lyrically inducing the poems flows unhindered, conveying grave messages that tugs at the conscience of the reader.
The poems mock and berate the attitude of people towards mentally challenged persons, their stigmatisation and want to right the wrong with the primary aim of kicking against it.
In the opening poem entitled “The First Question”, the persona throws a challenge to God: “God, do you love me?” He infers that, if God truly loves him, He wouldn’t be a sort of mockery because of his affliction in the midst of people. Why why him? The persona in the poem “To Khalil” bemoans the death, and expounds in details using images and fruits to buttress the degree of the quagmire the mentally challenged faced in the society.
The persona captures this in the fourth stanza: “as the unique man goes cold, lying bare upon the breast plate of dust like unripe mangoes” (pp.18) The darkness that pervades this poem is made clearer in the last two stanzas “death sentences are long sentences with half-baked commas and charred full stopssssss burning the tongue of doctors, we care God heals, kills too sometimes” (18).
In an unusual rendition, the persona in the piece “Elegy for Bliss” x-rays the agony of death, as the persona re-echoes what he is passing through each time he passes by the tomb, different tunes reverberates in his ears. He posits that “my ears are tired of your songs, they are furled like podim”, describing his experience thus: “every time i pass beside your grave, i hear you struggling , kicking , screaming, hissing ……….. you hear my footsteps and start to gobble my name like a turkey, you wheel, you sneeze, you shriek” The persona is just stating the obvious that if you are dead, you are gone forever, you have been tucked for an eternal sleep.
The major themes in the Memoir of Crushed Petals include death, love, abuse and mental illness. Love is portrayed in “rape & beg” where the persona admitted raping but attributed it to his love for the lady which he highlighted in the fourth stanza “ but babe, na love, i love you o. I only rape people i love, this your yansh ehn….na die.”
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The persona in “Orison for Lighting” showcases abuse of an infant whose little finger was chopped off by the Chief Priest to appease the God. In the first stanza, “the chief priest pulls out the little finger of an infant with pincers –the child does not cry… and with it, touches his forehead, his chest and his navel, then he licks the blood, and lift up the finger to the wind.”
In its effort to ease internal turmoil to shed light on the struggles of mental health patients in Nigeria, Pamilerin’s Memoir of Crushed Petals is an intellectual engagement by a poet sold to Nigerians not to stigmatize mental illness patients. It is a call for everyone to key into the crusade.
In conclusion, Pamilerin Jacobs, a young poet of great talent, has given the world a remarkable volume of poems that is fragile and yet frugal both in his freshness of language and its simplistic style of delivery. Sometimes, the poems are written in simple easily understood diction and, at other times, a formalist approach is used, which require a genuine depth of poetic wisdom to decipher or appreciate.