A literary evening featuring Ismail Bala with his newest collection of Poems, Line of Sight, published this year by Praxis Books. It was organized by For The Love of Poetry (FLP), a Kano poetry initiative. Held in the evening of Saturday, 10th October, 2020 at a garden in Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano. The trees whispered, birds sang, and the sun sank low in the horizon. It was serene.
The amazing Nana Sule moderated the reading. It was attended by Ali Mamman Lawan, author of Tears on a Red Rose; Naseeba Babale, one of the judges for this year’s Nigerian Student’s Poetry Prize; Aisha Danfullo; Mujaheed Ameen Lilo, winner of the Wole Soyinka Essay Competition and others. Before the start of the session, the guest author gifted everyone a copy of Abubakar Othman’s The Passions of Cupid, a slim volume of poetry and the bibliophiles were all euphoric.
Mujaheed said he felt out of place because he was a storyteller amidst poets. Nana Sule laughed and said he shouldn’t feel so because she was also a storyteller and that in fact we were all narrators. When Alee Lawan sauntered in gently like the gentleman he was, there was shouts of Querida which is the title of Ali’s recent poetic pieces and was the Spanish word for Beloved. Baffa introduced himself and said, like Ali, he liked dark poetry and sad endings. Everyone laughed.
It was not only a festival of words but feast of food. Drinks, samosas, cupcakes and chips were in abundance to which the poets helped themselves as they read and discussed poetry.
The guest author gave everyone a title to read after which there was an X-raying of the poem. Ismail Bala said people were saying the poems didn’t sound African and he was unsure whether to take that as a compliment or not. Naseeba agreed that indeed the African taste was missing in the poems. Ismail Bala explained why some people might find poetry hard. It’s either their vocabulary is weak or there is cultural differences. He expressed his love for classical music and how it inspired the poem, Tercet. He talked of his time in the Iowa Writers Residency.
Meanwhile, samosas and cakes disappeared. The grapes were near ending. The birds chirped. The evening got darker. Selfies and pictures were shot.
The poems were deep, like an abyss swallowing the readers. The readers gave their own perceptions about the poems and the guest author said he was satisfied that his poems turned out this way, in layers of meanings. Talks centered around simplicity in poetry, originality, love poetry, around movies, paintings, Michael Ondaatje, Teju Cole, David Ishaya, Umar Sidi, Immanuel Iduma, Game of Thrones, music and others.
Finally, the author read from the beautiful poem I Wish I Could Draw You. Then there was book signing and a group picture. The gathering went away as the adhaan for Maghreb was called.
© Mujahyd Ameen Lilo, Kano