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What's my love language? POETRY! #worldpoetryday

My first language is English. This surprises some people when they learn I'm Nigerian. My parents hail from two different Nigerian tribes and therefore English is the language they communicate in, and what I grew up hearing. Furthermore, it is Nigeria's official language since, prior to independence, our multilingual, multi-ethnic nation was colonized by the British. That being said, I speak English, fluently. Having been born and raised in northern Nigeria I also speak Hausa, fairly. But my love language, the one I speak the most passionately, is poetry.

Poetry isn't just my love language, it's also my therapy. It's my default form of creative expression especially when I'm deeply moved, for positive or negative reasons. I was writing rhymes long before I even knew what poetry was. As a child I would design original birthday cards for family and friends featuring my own rhyming poems. Hence when it came to writing my debut novel, A Divine Romance, having poetry feature in my characters’ expression of emotion was only natural. My favorite of such poems features in chapter 20 of the novel. And today in honor of World Poetry Day (March 21st), I'd like to share that poem with you. To give context without spoilers, I'll say this: at a moment when my main character, a young Egyptian noble beauty, is questioning whether love will ever factor into the equation that is her arranged marriage to the mysterious Hebrew governor of Egypt, she receives a papyrus that bears these words, in his impeccably written hieratic script:

Her beauty, beyond compare

Her lips, sweeter than honey

Her skin, smoother than butter

Her hair, softer than wool

How the glow in her eyes

Kindles a spark in my heart

And the light of her smile

Ignites an ember in my soul

How the melody of her voice

Inspires a song in my spirit

And the music in her laughter

Sparks a dance in my loins

How the passion of her spirit

Arouses a fire in my being

And the warmth of her soul

Melts down all my defenses

I lay naked, unashamed

Before love’s eternal flame

Its brilliance in her gaze

Its fervor in her touch

I stand strong, unafraid

Before life’s great mystery

Its answer in our honesty

Its meaning in our unity

O the beauty of her face

O the glory of her kiss

Leave me lost in her embrace

For therein I find my bliss

My beloved is mine and I, hers

My heart sings a song like no other

Unending be my song of songs

Unfading be my purple iris

Understanding the significance of the purple iris (which also features on the book's cover) makes his referring to her as such even more moving, and makes this scene in the story one of the most endearing, or so I'm told by the amazing authors and influencers who endorsed the novel. It was an honor to have delivered a live reading of this poem, My Purple Iris, during the Instagram live book launch.

When it comes to poems, my debut novel is not in short supply. In fact each chapter opens with a uniquely-crafted short poem, each deliberately scripted as a poetic clue that hints either at that chapter’s happenings or the character’s current feelings. This I did, because I wanted my novel to bring something unique to the Biblical fiction table. And I hope that if you haven't read A Divine Romance yet, you are inspired to order your copy and do so now.

Prior to sharing my poetry in writing, I have for over a decade shared my love language as spoken word for special occasions and noble causes on both international and global platforms. Without my trying to do so, I have become a 'voice of lament' as it were, being called upon to deliver spoken words and songs for everyone from national flood victims, to over 200 school girls abducted by terrorists, from my fellow Hurricane Ian victims to, most recently, breast cancer survivors. As a matter of fact, my first ever published poem just so happens to be the opening chapter of a book titled, Voices of Lament, a collection of essays, poems and liturgies published by Revell and featuring the contributions of 29 women of color writing on themes of injustice, heartache, and deep suffering. Beyond my flair for poetry, I think that being a survivor of sickle cell disease has naturally given me an edge when it comes to so effortlessly empathizing with human suffering. Now, I consider it a calling as it were, to inspire with words. But when I'm not writing poems for noble causes, or for my characters, I'm writing them to, or about, my Eternal Lover. Thus my parting gift to you on this day when the world celebrates my love language, is one of such poems. It's my personal favorite so far, of the spoken word and song performances I have had the honor of delivering around the world. Inspired by a life-changing true story, I call this poem, The Highest Price Love Ever Paid. Enjoy watching!

P.S. You know my love language, so the only question that remains is, what's yours? Tell me in the comments. ;)

Happy World Poetry Day!

~ Ifueko.

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