“Stop telling me you feel my pain/Yours is from having too much to eat/Mine is from having nothing to eat” writes Nigerian architect Tolu Akinyemi whose dauntless and hipster thought is collected in “Your Father Walks like a Crab" a collection of poetry for those who hate poetry.

Fresh, hilarious, lyrically alert, devout, joyous, quiet, the poems in Tolu Akinyemi’s Your father walks like a crab bear witness to the author’s obvious dislike for pompous and pedagogic poetry, a poetry that bores and fails to engage with people.

Without ridiculing the complex forms of poetry, Akinyemi argues that there is a need for "poetry without poets” and why we should make poetry more interesting and appealing to this selfie generation.

Equally engaging is the author’s preface which serves as an excellent reminder on why it is very important for modern African poets to stop writing about poverty and war, stories that reinforce negative stereotypes of the western world about Africa.

Akinyemi welcomes the reader

I wonder

Has love found me

Or is this the wind?

Your Father walks like a Crab is Mr Akinyemi’s first volume of poetry in the ‘poetry for people who hate poetry series’ which demonstrate his ability to use the musical power of words to convey what is it like to fall in love, get over a troublesome EX, and the crushing and humiliating experience of loving and losing, of being born by a father who is ridicule by all and sundry.

One poem talks about Shirk-etaries with thick lip-sticked lips and shadowed lips/who hate on job applicant and favor seekers/who as long as they sit in between/ you will not reach the hall of help/because she always say the director is always in a meeting/and do not bother to leave a note/as you will be leaving a fodder for the bin.

Other poems speaks volume about con-promises, of girls beating boys, of beauty that is too beautiful, of women like Debisi who are beaten and maltreated by sore losers and of men who came back 2 kisses too late.

Akinyemi’s poem is powerful and enticing. He focuses on the visceral effect that love has on a person, how it can make a beautiful woman like Debisi become blind to maltreatment and abuse.

The ability to use metaphors, stay away from clichés and his refusal to conform to traditional grammar styles made this book an absolute delight.

Akinyemi, who is also an architect knows how to tell a story without hype, and he appreciates the irony of love, of relationships, although the angst central to African Literature is missing, the poems are so vivid, and all the themes are still relatable.

Your Father Walks Like a Crab is a first book made eventful by the weirdness and clarity of Akinyemi’s mind. While some of these poems may be described as barbed, boyish and funny, it may not really appeal to people used to reading more deeper and introspective poems written by poets like John Keats, Christopher Okigbo, Niyi Osundare, Mabel Segun and other great poets.

Maybe Akinyemi does not aspire to be deep, maybe he just wants his poetry to be fun. Your Father Walks Like a Crab is fun, joyous and a perfect book for the selfie addicted, poetry hating generation.

Rating: 3/5

Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of Your Father Walks like a Crab in exchange for an honest review.


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