Go tell fate my catch by Gambian journalist and poet Momodou Jarju is a book that depicts a transformation of dream and admiration into declamatory literary work. The poems in the anthology, due out September 2, 2022, tell how a young man’s dream went from kicking football to using the pen; from dreams of becoming a professional footballer to a published writer. Why go from foot to hand, from ball to pen? It is acquired through a mixture of pain, hope, dreams and desires to achieve something in life.
This anthology contains 25 poems written in free verse in varying lengths and stanzas. The poems explore childhood dreams that were shattered by illness accompanied by pain and despair, but the faith and admiration of great and noble individuals inspire and motivate the poet to dream again.
In the poem “Echoes of Reflection”, the poet recalled how he played football as a hobby and the belief that only the sky was the limit in pursuing a career in football. The dream of one day becoming a professional footballer was shattered by a foot disease. “I’ve collapsed in bed staring dumbly / dying to decipher what’s going on.” This was the beginning of the change in his dream. “The impact of my foot to hand I am fate”. His foot is no longer palpable to play the ball. He can only watch jealously as his buddies “harass the ball”. Literally, in jealousy, he hailed his “un-sass pen”. The poet has now become a self-proclaimed narrator of society’s “everyday stories”. A journey into “Pen’s Mission” begins, accepting his destiny as a writer.
In the poem “Man proposes, God disposes”, the poet gave up when he realized that his dream of playing football was unrealizable. “I gave up on life and lost hope,” he further realized that dreams are never rare as long as we stay true to ourselves. “At over twenty, I learned to be me/a believer again and fate became my only hope.” His resignation to fate is rooted in his belief in God’s plan. This does not discredit the inspirations he got from great and hardworking people to achieve his dream remembering Dr. Lenrie Peters. “You are a mentor, I motivate MOST / And I aim to do much MORE.”
However, in the poem “The Guest”, the poet was on a sickbed, preparing and yearning for death. The desire to live and dream was at its lowest. “When the time comes to call / I’m in a hurry and prepared / To welcome the avoidable”. It was only because of his “fear of illness”. But realizing that “the guest doesn’t prioritize now” and that life is full of dreams, he has a second thought; “but now begging my Creator/ to let me stay and live/ longer like never before” because “dying young/brings non-identical twin thoughts”.
Looking at the accomplishments of Lenries Peters as a surgeon and writer; the courage of Deyda Hydara as a journalist; and the selfless sacrifice of Edward Francis Small and Nelson Mandela as leaders, inspired and energized the poet to dream, hope and work. Thus, between the sickbed, the shadow of pain and death, the selfless sacrifices and the achievements of great people testify to the birth of a writer, a poet and a journalist.
Go tell fate my catch has a consistency and transition of themes in chronological order that makes the 25 poems should be read in continuity. The poems should not be read in isolation, if one wants to fully grasp the evolution of the writer and the transformation of his dreams.
The book, however, has no traditional rhyme patterns, but sporadic rhymes of various poems can be seen. There is a use of alliteration, assonances of repetition, metaphor and personification, similes and rhetorical questions that give the poems a certain eloquence.
Amadou Manjang is a third year student at the University of The Gambia (UTG) with a major in political science and a minor in English language. He is also an aspiring journalist and author.