AS the world celebrated World Book and Copyright Day, writer and performance poet, Iquo DianaAbasi also seized the moment to unveil her debut poetry album Beyond the Staccato to the world on April 23, 2022 after months and even years of cooking the appetising poetic dish. Held within the aesthetic ambience of Didi Museum in Victoria Island, Lagos, the event showcased an array of conversations and performances, including poetry, dance and music by different artistes.
The opening act was performed by Clementina Solutionist Owumi who performed ‘The Staccato was no Firework’, a poem from the album. The performance was greeted with rousing applause for Owumi’s stunning delivery and the poignant verses which drew listeners into the reality of a night in the grips of herders’ attack.
In place of an album review, the audience was treated to a panel discussion around the album tagged ‘The Staccato Conversation’. This conversation involved the poet, activist and social commentator, Aj Dagga Tolar, poet and compere, Brenda Nwafor, as well as Habeeb Ajijola, an economist and spoken word poet. Together, these three analysed the album on its production quality, political messages, poetic style and more.
The discussants shed light on different poems in the album, from the cynical and upbraiding tone of ‘Crumbs,’ which speaks about the despoilation of the Niger Delta, to the comforting and motherly tone in ‘Calabash,’ and the evocative lines in ‘The Staccato…’ which speaks to the herder’s crisis in the middle belt of Nigeria. Just before the discussion ended, the audience got to savour another one of the poems, ‘Answers That Will Not be Swallowed,’ a tribute to the shooting at the Lekki tollgate venue of the #EndSARS protest in October 2020.
As the day wore on, Oyin Gbade (Oyin Sax) was invited to titillate and serenade those present with tune after tune from his saxophone, including an interesting cover of the national anthem.
The unveiling and launch of Beyond the Staccato was midwifed by Aj Dagga Tolar, with able support from the businessmen Chief Kayode Aderinokun and Toju Amorighoye, the immediate past president of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Toki Mabogunje, filmmaker and cofounder iRep Documentary Film Festival, Femi Odugbemi, linguist and researcher, Kola Tubosun, among others.
The audience was also entertained to a contemporary dance interpretation of a poem titled ‘When no Drums Can be Heard,’ with energetic and expressive movements by Rasheed Ijolomo Ibrahim.
While the album launch event was entertaining, the poetry lingers on in the mind. Opening lines from the first poem in the album declares: ‘Shaken, but not broken, the poet is victim and survivor…’ – a promise that the verses in the album will engage and inspire in equal measure.
A poetry collection, Symphony of Becoming, and a short story collection, Efo Riro and Other Stories, are DianaAbasi’s other works.
The album is available in CD format and on online stores at Amazon and iTunes.