Book Title: Scripture
Year of Publication: 2018
Author: Jide Badmus
Reviewer: Oyindamola Shoola
Recently, I gained awareness of Jide Badmus through the publication of a co-authored anthology with Pamilerin Jacobs titled Paper Planes in the Rain. While I knew what extraordinary work to expect of Pamilerin Jacob’s contribution to the anthology, I feared for this person that I was yet to know, Jide Badmus, who dared to collide with Pamilerin.
Being quite impressed with his Bravery, I dug deeper to find out that Jide Badmus, an already published author of two books; Scripture and There is a Storm in My Head, had his distinct voice and style in writing that couldn’t be easily intimidated. Skilled in covering numerous themes, you will find Jide Badmus, despite honing some traditionally praised aspects of poetry-writing, appeasing to the gentle ears of modern readers who love less rigid poetry structures. Consider him a chameleon of literature, becoming blue for the blue soul and yet, appeasing other things or people.
In the ending of a poem titled Paper God by Jide Badmus, an excerpt of Scripture, he writes:
I fold like a poem in a pen’s mouth
Like a sperm of ink seeking
Ecstasy on mental beds
Like a chorus clinging to the body of a song
I fold like paper
Into what you want –
A lover, a friend a gun,
I am quite impressed that his choice of words, writing style, anthology curation, and sectioning isn’t something that just happened, but it’s intentional. It is one thing to say as a writer, I just write, but it is another thing to be intentional in your thoughts and still be able to construct the writing artistically to be enjoyed. Writers like Jide Badmus aren’t only focused on the outcomes of their work, no matter how appealing but with the process.
In a writing exercise titled “Why I Write” that I have practiced most recently and taught others, I have gone further by challenging to rewrite the same concept, story, and idea, multiple times but in different ways. Such that if I gave 5 – 10 individuals a different version to read, they would all conclude at finding the same meaning, however, if I gave one person to read all 10 versions, each would still be refreshing as though it were different.
A lot of times when writers are asked to briefly respond to the prompt “Why I Write,” especially among developing writers, there is an influx of “to be the voice of the voiceless” or “to give hope for a better tomorrow” and more common thoughts. From reading diversely, I realized that in literature, there is nothing new under the sun therefore as a writer, to distinguish yourself, it is not about the message you pass across but how you do so. While someone else has written the same plot line you have, sometimes it’s how you write it differently that distinguishes you. Without doubt, I was most appeased by the uniqueness of Jide Badmus’ choice of words, particularly in recommunicating similar ideas.
In the last stanza of one of my favorite poems from Scripture, titled A Poem for Tomorrow, Jide Badmus writes:
I will paint a landscape –
Hills ripped by streams
Strokes of aromatic breeze, massage
For the ache in your furrows.
I’ll make you look forward to tomorrow.
Notably, as a writer, I learned from how Jide Badmus gives an ending to his works that make you return to read the beginning. I also enjoyed the effortless use of rhymes in some of the poems.
In Just Lie Here with me on page 40 of Scripture, Jide writes,
You led me to the thrones of hell
And smuggled me into heavenly bliss.
You bound me with your sensual spell
And made me beg for release!
You shed your leaves and danced bare
You told me Just lie here
But I can’t breathe, I can’t lie still –
I can’t contain this fire that threatens to spill.
The eros in his poems as igniting as they are remains quite gentle for listening. This poem and others in Chapter 4 of Scripture titled When Words Become Moans embody a modern honesty but using traditional writing patterns that somewhat help maintain its modesty. To begin this chapter, Jide writes,
…gods wander into sensual zones
and become as soft stones.
The flawless seaming of the themes in Scripture is quite impressive, and at the end of my reading, I asked myself, How do you begin a sentence with God with a middle of eros without feeling like a sinner? I realized that despite each chapter’s difference, the seamlessness was by the constancy of God or something relative and heavenly that allowed an easy acceptance for the least innocent.
Speaking of God, the beginning of Scripture wander into the more spiritual sphere of a man seeking God to find himself. Jide Badmus writes;
I seek to explore the path of God
And find the key to self.
My quest is perfectly flawed.
From that, I experienced a ha-ha moment of how man often treats God as a means to an end, forgetting that God is the beginning and the end. While I was aware of this, it dawned to me in a more eye-opening manner that if you search for God diligently, you wouldn’t need to find anything else because, in Him, there is all.
I am always consistently impressed by the works of writers such as Jide Badmus, who - while catering to the reader’s experience still write in such a way that would be beneficial to a writer’s analysis and learning. It is sometimes rare to strike that balance, but he did it well.
Additionally, I have found that in the works of other brilliant anthologies by significant writers, they usually pick just one idea or concept and play with it in all aspects. I recently pointed out to another writer that if you analyze Pamilerin Jacob’s Gospels of Depression, for example, the central theme is mental health, then the breakdown includes mental health and religion, mental health and culture, mental health and medicine, mental health and family and so much more. In Theresa Lola’s recent anthology titled Equilibrium, her picking was the Alzheimer disease, and she presented it in the context of health, family, technology, self, and so much more. In Jide Badmus’ Scripture, you would find, God; and self, love, eros, nature, and melancholy.