By Damiete Braide
It was an evening of poetry performances at the launch of Iquo DianaAbasi’s poetry album, Beyond Staccatorecently at the Didi Museum, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Solutionist and Ibrahim performed various poems from the album, while Onyi Sax played the saxophone, much to the delight of the audience.
Writer and performance poet, Iquo, performed an Ibibio folk song, and the audience joined her in singing the chorus.
Dagga Tolar, poet and social commentator, led a session on poetry. Habeeb Ajijola, poet and spoken word economist, and Brenda Nwafor, poet and designer, spoke in detail about the album.
Dagga Tolar notes: “We are here to push the boundaries of the possibility of the work. We need to support this work so that we can replicate it more.
Habeeb said, “When I listened to some of the poems on the album, the things that were clearly visible from the start were from the work itself. You can easily see who the poet is, and when you go through the whole work, the elements that stand out, that you can easily see, like love, freedom, woman.
“There are things which, when you look at them, do not speak only of a work, these things in themselves for those who do not know the poet and even for those who know the poet. It is obvious that the whole work itself is an incarnation of the poet himself.
“More or less, Iquo put herself in an audio format and allowed us to see into herself, her beliefs, her ideology and understand how life should be.”
He said the album also paints the image of the average Nigerian as a resilient person: “No matter where they are, they choose to write their own story in their own way.
He claimed, “That’s also the kind of mood the poem took us through, which is the most important aspect of the work. It also indicates what kind of person we should aspire to be. Art has played many roles in the revolution of nations and individuals. It may not revolutionize Nigeria as a country but it will plant a seed in our minds as individuals that we will start to see things differently.
Speaking of another poem, titled ‘Crumbs’, Brenda said, “the poem inspires people to ask not just for more than we desire, but for that thing that is ours. This is what the crumb invites us to do. It is a requirement that we collect what is due to us as individuals and not crumbs.
She added that each poem, on its different level, “causes us to wonder where we are or to be stoic and do what we are asked to do”.
Dagga Tolar said, “it is love that allows you to sacrifice yourself, and we live in a country where every second you take away from doing something outside for yourself; you sentence yourself to death. It is a kind of love of which the poet speaks by defining who the poet is. More particularly, the poet is human. The poet brings not only his whole person, but the whole of a greater percentage of the human species on planet earth. The great part of this species that must continue to struggle and recognize a woman that she is human in every letter of the word woman.
Kayode Aderinokun, a guest, said, “I’m very honored because today is a special day. It’s not very common to find writers who can sing well, and it’s not very common to find people who can sing very well and write very well. No matter how hard you try to master the talents, it will always come to the surface.
“Iquo Diana Abasi is a committed artist. She’s very consistent in one art form or the other. While some of us are not activists like Dagga Tolar who is a strong activist and he has propelled us forward, I want to salute all those who give their all for the promotion of the arts in the country .
Iquo DianaAbasi, in response, told the audience that “Beyond Staccato is my first audio poetry project, which explores national issues, the subjugation of little girls, the despoliation of the environment and love.
“The album is a lush mix of evocative vocals, contemplative and arresting melodies and sonic folklore – all used as perfect vehicles for unforgettable poetry. This album laments many negatives, but shows that beyond the staccato breeder crisis, EndSARS, insurgency, and more, Nigerians as a people are shaken but not broken. In this offering, as a poet, I am a victim and a survivor. Through tough questions and undeniable anecdotes, the album challenges the listener to introspect, empathize, and take action to make better choices.
The poet said her fans should expect a collection of poetry and more readings and performances from her. Iquo Diana Abasi is the author of Symphony of becoming, his first collection of poetry which was shortlisted for the NLNG Nigeria Literature Prize, the Nigerian Authors Association Poetry Prize and the Soyinka Prize for Literature. She is also the author of the widely acclaimed fiction collection, Efo Riro and Other stories.