Throughout Blue Hour Notes, Agboola embodies the character of her poems, like an actor in a movie of her own making. She is able to do this so well, perhaps, because the poems are from personal experiences and observations.
By Michael Chiedoziem Chukwudera
Blue Hour Notes is Faith Moyosore Agboola’s first spoken word poetry album; a writer and community organiser who founded the poetry group, African Writers. She began writing in secondary school and found spoken word poetry as a means for expression in adulthood – a medium that she fully embraced to express deep-felt emotions, such as heartbreak episodes and feelings of despair.
Throughout Blue Hour Notes, Agboola embodies the character of her poems, like an actor in a movie of her own making. She is able to do this so well, perhaps, because the poems are from personal experiences and observations. The poems come across often as monologues, and so they pass across the scenic experience of a play or even a film.
In the first track, “Crazy” she comes to terms with her ordeals: “Crazy was the name he gave me every time we had an argument that caught him in the middle of his lies”, she begins. Prosaic as this is, it is a very clear depiction of being gaslighted. A less artistic poet could pass that message just by saying, “He gaslighted me”, but here it is portrayed and further explained. “He would talk about how much I was destroying our love with my imaginary fears”, and like real poetry, what this does is illuminate the scenario that the poem paints, thereby evoking introspection, to which she says, “Why do I begin conversations with you sure of myself and end them questioning myself?” The most introspective lines of the piece are spaced out between each other, with words that serve to magnify the effects of the introspection between lines in the poems. As such, even with the depth that her words carry, they do not come off as cumbersome.
In the second piece, “Move On”, Agboola queries, “I don’t know why we are asked to just move on”, while she dissects the difficulties of letting go. It captures the wilderness between heartbreak and the reluctance to move on because the heart is still addicted to the former object of its love. The beauty of this piece, aside its brilliance, is in its sheer vulnerability.
“Japa” delves into a social issue, one of young Nigerians being so eager to leave the country. But here, Agboola fails to make a unique impression. The production could have been done with a bit more innovation, especially as the beats and flows have become a sort of template used in the delivery of socially conscious poems. It is not a bad piece, but on hearing it the first time, it was almost as though I had heard it somewhere else. It seems to be a little out of place in this project, as though it was merely a filler, to give the album a sense of social consciousness.
In “Jagun Jagun” she metaphorises life as a battle, infusing the Yoruba anecdote, “A good soldier must know when to fight and when to run. A soldier who does not know when to run will perish in battle”, a proverb which captures the importance of retreating in battle as a means of reinforcement. However, the main object of the poem is its instructiveness. It is a poem which evokes introspection about one’s personal life as a battle. And then it moves from instructiveness to encouragement. I am particularly in love with the part, “Tired soldier, if all you do today to defeat your struggle with living is to take one step towards life, you are healing”. This line speaks to me, and it speaks to the vocation of people struggling to make an impact in the rugged landscapes of their lives.
The final poem, “Homeless”, is a continuation of “Jagun Jagun”, as it begins with a series of unanswered phone calls to the main character. The poem signals her unavailability to deal with the hassles of her personal life, because – as the poem relates later on – she is fighting the battle of finding a home in herself. The main character who recites the poem is riddled with emotions of uncertainty and fear, and so is held in perpetual struggle. The poem narrates how these negative emotions are capable of holding people down and is instructive in avoiding it in the message it preaches in “Jagun Jagun”.
Blue Hour Notes is a soulful project that details love, pain, hope, and heartbreak, and metaphorises life in the light of its numerous battles. It is a project with admirable depth. It is a project of paradox – which is a function of high art. Throughout the project, the poet is vulnerable about personal pain and societal challenges, and at its most soulful, it espouses hope instructively. And when it talks about pain and despair, it traces the root of the problems. Hence it is a work born from losing and gaining oneself, love and heartbreak, despair and hope.
Michael Chiedoziem Chukwudera is a freelance writer and curator. He is the Co-founder of the Eagle Nest Literary Movement and the Director of Umuofia Arts and Books Festival. Follow him on Twitter @ChukwuderaEdozi.