Tuesday, 16 June 2015

WORD: The Journey

WORD: The Journey 

In the familiar grey gloom of a cold January evening, I posted a status saying that I would be publishing another collection of poems called “WORD”. I added that it will be released in the summer, on a date to be announced. Attached with the status was a grainy low-resolution picture of me holding up a printed paper version of the book. 
Now, it's a same picture but this time with the final printed version in my hand and the launch is days away on the 18th June. It has been quite a journey.

Time is a strange concept. Strange in how it is either elusive or abundant, and too often it is both at the same time. Although I made the announcement in January, the idea or thought of the collection came many months before. In August 2014, I was booked to perform at the V-Fringe Festival at the Isle of Wight. It was my first time going to the Isle, so I was very excited. Even more so because it was for poetry. 
I did not what to expect but I was opened minded. (As I walked around town, I noticed that people would occasionally point and look at me. I was confused, and as I was just about to switch on my suspicions, I noticed that I happened to be on the front of the poster being used to promote the poetry night. I was actually being recognised, which is bizarre for a writers/poets – unlike pop or movie stars -  because we usually dwell inconspicuously in society).

The two “lock in” nights of poetry at the V-Fringe festival were uplifting. Two great crowds came out on each night for nothing but poetry. Unique creative expressions from a range of poets. After the show, an elder lady came hugged me so hard my lungs almost deflated, and told me that my words were beautiful and exactly what she needed to hear but did not know where it would come from. I was so moved by that experience. Sometimes we forget that that's what art is for, to connect us, and remind us that our experiences is what makes us human and that we are more the same than we are different. 

The next day I was set to return to the hustle and bustle lifestyle of life in the capital city. A great contrast to the serenity of the Isle. In the morning, I went for a walk along the coast. I sat down by the rocks and watched the ocean dance to its own rhythm. There were children playing and families enjoying their day out. Beside me, two boys with their father ventured beyond the rocks where I dared not go. 
I started taking pictures of the surrounding scenery and a kind stranger offered to take a picture of me. It was unflattering. However, when I focused in on the contrast of the sea and the silhouette it was as if it spoke to me. Immediately, I was inspired with not only the front cover of my next collection but also the name. It came to me in a quiet whisper, as if the sea had spoken.

WORD is without a doubt my most comprehensive collection of poems. It transcends into the personal and political, exploring history, culture, tradition, mental health, suicide, suffering, war, conflict, but also hope and not least of all, love. In these poems I find the voice and the courage to say that which I had not yet previously been able to. 

I have worked on these poems everyday for as long as I can remember. In fact, I have worked on them so much I struggle to recall a time without them. It is as if these poems had been a quiet whisper in the noise of my life, but once that noise was quietened, the poems became loud and clear. They were heard and written. 

My love for writing comes from a strong passion for reading. And from that unravels my love for story telling, and imagination, which, I think, in dark moments, is the most powerful tool that can save you. For if you can imagine a tomorrow, there is reason to live for it. I did not grow up wanting to be a writer. It has kind of been my becoming, but I know somewhere there is a voice that once was quiet, which now tells me to keep going.

I do not write for me. I write for the untold story. I think about my illiterate grandmother and the poems in her heart. I think about the poems trapped inside the mind of that little boy who will never go to school but will be forced into labour. I think about the poems that are all around us but they are too quiet for us to hear because everything around is loud and noisy and breaking. All of that which is  too heavy for our hearts, and I write. 

So I  invite you to read a preview e-book version of WORD which you can download free here: http://www.jjbola.com/word-by-jj-bola-preview/

Thursday, 5 March 2015

World Book Day - Recommended Reading List

In celebration of World Book Day, I am writing my twenty most recommendable books among my favourite and sharing them so that you may be inspired, uplifted, enthused, challenged, and provoked by them as I was. Many of these are classics that you would have probably read or at least heard of before. Many of them are also the more obscure, perhaps unheard of, would be classics, were it not for the constraints of the mainstream.

Books are fantastic for they are satisfy a multitude of desires of the human mind and spirit. Often, acting as both a portal to another world, an escape, a companion, a teacher or a friend. They ignite something that exists deep within us. Something that we may not consciously be aware of, but somehow we know it's there.

So, here  are my recommended books – in no particular order -  to quench your reading desires:

- Wretched Of The Earth by Frantz Fanon
- The Myth Of Sisyphus and/or The Stranger by Albert Camus
- 2000 Seasons by Ayi Kwei Armah
- Nile Valley Contributions to Civilisation by Anthony Browder
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Of Water and Spirit by Patrice Malidoma Some
- Brave New World by Alduous Huxley
- Devil on the Cross by Ngungi Wa’Thiongo
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Feirrera
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
- An Afrocentric Guide to a Spiritual Union by Ra Un Nefer Amen
- Will To Change and/or Communion by bell hooks
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
- African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo by Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau
- When We Ruled by Robin Walker
- Civilisation or Barbarism by Cheik Anta Diop
- The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
- On Disciplining the Soul and on Breaking the Two Desires by Al – Ghazali
- Dancing In The Glory of Monsters by Jason Stearns
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

This is such a diverse collection of books that range from the historical and political, to the personal and poetic. Each of these books have a had a profound influence on my perception of the world and understanding of reality. I would highly recommend all of these books to anyone and everyone to read.

What I hope to do is start a video blog reviewing books. I will definitely review this list for anyone interested. These are just recommendations. I know there some books that I have left out, however, this list is not definitive. Feel free to suggest me any books that you would recommend.

Oh, and happy world book day!