Title: Dead Lions Don’t Roar
Author: Tolu Akinyemi
Publisher: UK Publishing
Reviewer: Henry Akubuiro
In a society where moral rectitude is increasingly becoming abeyant, Akinyemi’s bounden duty is to reawaken it with verses. He, thus, functions as a philosopher-poet, a kind of factotum inculcating wisdom in different facets of life. Dead Lion Don’t Roar leads us into the universe of an exact mind rousing the lethargic from indolence or prevarication, bearing in mind that the greatest achievers are those who take the bull by the horn. Taking a step can just be the open sesame to reach the stars. Enough of jeremiad!
The poet, in the preface, admits that he wrote the poem to inspire and change lives, and this is easily evidenced in the title of the poetry volume. Do dead lions ever roar? This is improbable except in Carton Network where credulity is often stretched to the limit. The title calls attention to the need to utilise talents while still alive, because, when you are gone, your prized acuity is dead, too.
The spectrum of issues covered in this book is catholic. You should expect nothing less from a collection of over 100 poems and given the background of the poet as a blogger writing on a myriad of issues over a decade. The personal lyrics in the poem touch on individuals close him just as sarcasms, derived from appalling human conditions and actions, bother on universality. We also have poems that also pursue human ideals and those that interrogate humdrum existence and foibles.
Meaning isn’t cloyed and the tropes aren’t complex. Perhaps the poet it intent on reaching a diverse audience, especially those with strong distaste for ambiguous verses. His emphasis is to pass the message than the medium of passage.
The volume begins with “If Men were God” in two parts. In the first poem, we have: “If Men were God,/ There would be no more us,/ Long dead and buried…”, while in the second, we have: “If Men were God/ The Titanic would be unsinkable,/ We would never die, but all go to heaven….” Simply put, these poems disparage the hubris in man and the tendency to play god.
A man in love with the right partner is in bliss. He hankers for her love always. She means everything to him. So, in the poem “Coming Back Soon”, the voice celebrates his beau: “Among petals I found my rose,/As I walked through the lonely hills of bachelorhood,/ I never knew life could be this good/ And love so real (p.6). Though the lovers are separated by distance –the man is offshores –he continues to profess his love, hoping that his affection would be a guide to every step she takes.
The theme of love also resonates in the next poem “Twelve Yards”, where the essence of inner beauty is considered the ultimate beauty in a woman. Likewise, in “My Mother”, the virtues of motherhood is exemplified. A good woman is an answered prayer to a man. The persona in this poem is valorized as a pillar of support to all and sundry. Unlike her, the persona in “Who Will Tell Sister Vicky?”, is not a good example. Her dress code is provocative, which prompts the question, “Who will tell Sister Vicky to cover up?”
The poet goes hilarious in “The Other Room”, a poem inspired by the incumbent Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, in Germany, following a misunderstanding with his wife. But this poem isn’t exactly on that tiff. Akinyemi’s “The Other Room” is evasive in naming what goes on in “the other room”. Thus: “The Puzzle of the other room remains a mystery,/ Similar to the moonlight tales of old,/ A façade none can tell…” (p.17).
Ours is a world overwhelmed with grief daily. “Fire in the Tower”, hence, tells the tale of avoidable deaths, especially where man’s inactions lead to far-reaching consequences. The immolations that preceded the recent Greenfell Tower fire disaster in London is the subject of this particular poem. The images portrayed here are gloomy: “Tower of Chaos”, “Burning Blazes”, “Drowning voices”, “Voices laden with sorrow”, “A raging fire”.
Before social media came, life was much better, echoes the poem “Before Social Media”. The voice in the poem is miffed that true love has been replaced with frivolities. Having numerous likes and followers, the voice preaches, doesn’t translate into bliss. He, thus, yeans for the hands of the clock to be turned backwards. One of the political poems in the collection is “The Thieving Politician”. The tragedy of our reality, preaches the poem, is that the same corrupt politicians are celebrated by the same people they have looted their treasury.
Football lovers will surely relate with the poem “The Special One”. The former Chelsea Football coach, Jose Morinho, is globally adored as “The Special One” for his knack for success on the field. Though he is no longer a cult hero in Chelsea following his movement to another club, the poet assures that his legacy will still be remembered.
The titular poem “Dead Lions Don’t Roar”, which inspired the book title, reinforces the need to make the most of your time on earth, because, once you are gone, your legendary status becomes history, and: “In the graveyard lay many unsung heroes,/ Six feet under the ground therein abide great potentials/ Depriving the world of the benefit of their idea…(p.58)” . This collection will surely appeal to readers of all ages and status in the light of its accessibility and thematic abundance.
The poet, Akinyemi, a trained economist from Ekiti State University, holds a masters degree from the University of Hertfordshire, UK, and currently lives in the UK. A percentage of proceeds from the book, he hints, will be donated to charity.