The Adamic Verses were written between 1977 and 1990. The two new cantos
serving as alternative ends to this edition were however given their final forms in 1995.
The verses attempt to paint facets of a wilderness phase in my spiritual life. They
should be immediately recognizable to all states of consciousness sensitive to the fall
and to alienation. Fragments of Eden and fragments of the regions of the night
seeking independent flow have here, hopefully, been incarnated.
Broken Pieces explores themes of nostalgia, bereavement, unfulfilled love and the
transcendentality of nature. They were written to capture and preserve what is probably
best described as special sensations. Broken Pieces is a lonely lover clasping
fervently a sodden pillow. It is primordial music flowing into a hell like an injury. It is the
black survival bent below asphalt load at fifty-five. Broken Pieces is rebellion in the
heart, pleading the pity of man’s pain. It is saddening golden rays streaming down on
mankind. It is sweet strain mixing with crying of a dying child. Broken Pieces is
Emmanueeel! a bereaved mother’s graveside scream. It is infinite silence, trickles of
love, paintings of desolate wastes…
Harry Garuba, in a private preview in 1980 of a number of my poems, had found me
guilty of over-personalization of experience and the use of an eclectic confusion of
voices, among several other faults. My self-defence at the time had been very spirited.
Now, however, I plead guilty. The criticism and the advice that an extensive editing of
the poems be undertaken before publication are largely responsible for the long period
of writing, re-writing and selecting these verses. It is my hope that my long years of the
sentence of trying to change my spots has borne fruit and impose pattern on this bleed
of soul. That both books were cited third in the honours list during the 1994 ANA
(Association of Nigerian Authors) national poetry competition probably suggests this.
I am grateful to God for my afflictions and for the ostracism in the wilderness that
created the conditions to which I owe my poems. For, despite my free resort to fictive
devices (like character impersonation) poetry is not fiction. In fact, it is ultra-reality.
Fiction's claim to a kind of `ultra-reality', in the sense that the Homo Fictus is more real
than the `social man', is well-known and, acceptable. We know and accept that our
close knowledge of a character's thought processes in the novel helps us realize a
fuller human being than our social neighbour whose truest feelings, attitudes,
aspirations and even actions must be moderated by shame and politeness in order to
be socially acceptable. But there is a sense in which poetry transcends this level of
fictional reality. And this is in the sense that it is, most of the time, a sensitive re-
creation of deeply felt experience. This is why William Wordsworth calls poetry a
spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions. An intensely-felt reality is more real than
ordinary reality in the same sense in which animate reality is more living than
It was John Murray Middleton that made that memorable observation on
consciousness when he said that the dream we believe is more real than the reality
we ignore. This holds true for poetry, but in a positive sense. The poet, if he is to
create real poetry, must bring his full consciousness to bear on the object of interest.
The reality of that object becomes, not only its ordinary reality, but, in addition, the poet's
particular response to that object, arising from his deep experience of that reality. For
the ambience of a thing, place or phenomenon is also part of its total reality or
meaning. Poetry would only truly be appreciated when we decide to empathize, when
we become willing to be seduced into the poet's consciousness.
A word on packaging. Poetry is conventionally packed in lines and stanzas. If we
package prose in lines, however, it would not become poetry. Free verse is not prose
in lines. On the other hand, if we fail to pack poetry in lines, as is often the case with
parts of rhetorical speech, it would remain poetry. The package in which words are
packed cannot, therefore, decide for us what is poetry and what is not poetry.
The elements that make rhetorical speech, for example, poetry, are music and
imagery. Most poems have rhythms, sound patterns and imagery that are very
aesthetically satisfying. When we taste these features in prose deliveries, we
immediately recognize them as poetic.
The fact that prose (in lines) cannot become poetry and the fact that rhetorical prose
often inheres poetry shows that the shape of poetry is secondary in importance to its
`content'. In fact, it is the content that dictates the shape or form of poetry. The complex
emphases, repetitions, sonorities and extra-ordinary comparisons that spice poetic
deliveries are echoes of deep feelings, inevitable products of elevated or intense
thought. It is the emotional weight, which manifests as sobbing that breaks the
sentences of a weeping person into lines and the rhythm of crying. In the same way, it
is the intensity of the poetic experience that creates the shape, the music and the
imagery. It is not the shape, music or imagery that create poetry.
Primarily, therefore, poetry is intense feeling, intense consciousness or
conceptualization that is invariably artistically communicated. That, I hope, absolutes
my presentation of these broken pieces as poetic ejaculations.
Felix Ovie Edjeren.