Spoken Word Artist: Andrew Patience (AP)
Location: Jos, Nigeria,
Year of Publication: 2016
No of Tracks: 14
Duration: 55 minutes.
Reviewer: Bizuum Yadok(Jos, Nigeria)
It was Chinweizu and co. who said that “spoken word is heard and seen and felt; it is experienced as the narrator becomes a character with varying degrees of animation, body movement, facial expression, tone of voice and rhythm of speech, the narrator presents the character and his plight” in their famous book, ‘Towards the Decolonization of African Literature’. AP’s spoken word album, I AM, couldn’t be more apt against the backdrop of Chinweizu’s words. Although it is an audio album, it still transmits the energy and fervor of primary orality while giving life to distant and abstract concepts.
While the battle rages between spoken word and poetry, or rap and poetry – regarding definitive characteristics (as some literary critics futilely attempt to suggest) – AP’s spoken word album situates itself in the nexus of poetry, spokenword and music. Perhaps that is why it is sub-titled ‘spoken word poetry’, but that is just by the way. What actually strikes me most about her art is the quality of the content of her poetry. When the first two tracks touch down on your eardrums you would be tempted to think that she gave her best for the first, probably to seduce her listener to hold on, but then the succeeding tracks (poems) keep pressing your “wow” button until you reach the end. Next, you press ‘replay’ – at least that was my experience.
It must go down the record that AP does not mince words about the immaculateness of her femininity or her stance as a feminist. She makes this obvious through the exaltation of Maya Angelou, through her decrying of all forms of violence against women, through her agitation for the woman to also love and not just be loved, and also through her almost unending utilization of symbolisms and imageries that revolve around a woman’s psyche. In the poem ‘I Am’ for example, she stresses the peculiar features of the woman which does not make her any lesser than her male counterpart but rather, an equal or maybe a greater human. She says. “. . .I am the universe.” She argues, in a few similar poems, that her identity as a woman is not tied to the constructs of patriarchal society.
Other than the re-contextualizing of the ideal woman, AP hammers on insensitive religious extremism, depression, child abuse, child labour, war, rape, exploitation, neocolonialism, and irrationality with an untamed resentment – which actually is necessary – because anger has a long history in implementing change.
The poet explores different styles and patterns, altering the pitch, tone, and loudness of her voice at different intervals to convey her messages. Somehow, some vocabularies and techniques appear more frequently than others. For example, the anaphor ‘I’ in the poem ‘Without Words’ nearly chokes the poem but for the poem’s seamless glides and soft rhythm.
AP features other budding poets, or wordsmiths, like Bash, Decipher, Anchorman (with his witty couplets) and Northpriest (with his near-Arabic accent), who do not subtract her credit in anyway but rather add flavor to the tapestry of her audio pieces. Malvina, Mfon, Yetunde and Goldbador blend their mellifluous voices into the rich cauldron of AP’s mind-blowing poetry.
From the narrative to the descriptive to the conversational and to the abstract, by any reasonable rating, AP has earned herself an ‘A’ with this spoken word album. If you don’t like it at all then you had better check yourself because you are most likely a hater. With the ‘I Am’ spoken word album, I wager to be and Oliver Twist an ask for Part 2.
Bizuum Yadok is a teacher, poet and social commentator. He has short stories, articles, and academic papers published in different newspapers, journals and magazines across Nigeria and beyond. Bizuum is the author of King of the Jungle and Echoes of the Plateau