Title: Then I Grew Wings
Author: Ogundeyi Tolu Emmanuel Lucas
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Year of Publication: May 19, 2018
Number of Pages: 222
Reviewer: Oyindamola Shoola
Unlike the other ways in which I have been introduced to fascinating Nigerian writers, I met Lucas in the comment section of Lanre Oranyeli’s Instagram live session. His excitement to analyze, question, and criticize Lanre’s works drew my attention as well as his sense of humor. At my will, I was forced to follow Lucas on Instagram and read his works.
Lucas’ book Then I Grew Wings, met and simultaneously beat my expectations of what a writer can achieve in their first published collection. The book opens, travels, and closes with various expressions on love, human nature, feminism, art, and many more, through medical lenses in which Lucas reflects his academic pursuit.
Then I Grew Wings is divided into 4 sections; Beginning, Between, Blink, and Begin. However, it is easy to get lost in Lucas’ works and not notice the divisions because of how interesting the book is.
The book opens with poems about parenting which I would also call poetic prose because of the stories that one can draw from Lucas’ works. He talks about how teenage minds travel as their bodies evolve into beings that they may not fully comprehend at the moment. Lucas writes about falling in love or lust at a very young age.
On page 10, a poem titled Parenting holds one of my favorite lines from Then I Grew Wings. Lucas writes,
One day when you’re not around
Your daughter will replace the mirror with the eyes of a boy
And she’ll trade her secrets for his sweet and convincing words
Still exploring the idea of love or lust and how it manipulates or confuses people, in another poem titled Cupid’s Banquet Lucas writes,
Logic is an unwelcome guest
That’s always late to a love fest
While reason is the nervous waiter that spills the drinks
And the heart will always be the life of the party
One of the things that I enjoyed the most in the themes that Lucas explored is the universality. He writes in a way that appeals to human emotions and thoughts, and to people from diverse backgrounds.
Still on the theme of love, Lucas’ use of words is so tantalizing to the mind, and it literarily bursts the brain. In a poem titled Dental Forceps which is my favorite in the anthology, Lucas writes,
Suspend me with a long kiss like a rope linking earth to heaven
With your touch, give my insecurity your dermic remedy and thaw my mind from its wintering
Sell me your religion
Until I let go of my beliefs
Show me how mysteries tromp promises
And love me with all your reptile heart until your venom taste like honey
Darling, I need your sweet words to be as sharp as a dental extraction forceps
Then I won’t have to worry about my conscience digging its moral tooth in my hapless heart
Every time I spend the ungodly hours in your bed
If I were to advertise Lucas Then I Grew Wings with the poem titled Dental Forceps, this would be my caption:
Do you have a friend, family or foe incurable of the STS AKA Single To Stupor disease, Doctor Lucas to the rescue!
My testimony: When I read this poem, I was immediately baptized of my single-ship, and I gave my heart to... let's discuss this part later, but you get the gist!
There are parts of the Then I Grew Wings that highlights motherhood but with a twist from romantic love. In a poem titled Mother’s Love on page 197, Lucas writes,
Every time I hear that song on the radio
“I’ll catch a grenade for you”
I can only think of my mother whose heart will explode
If I had gone through life without finding a love so true
In a girl who feels the same as I do
A mother’s love is the map to every treasure worth keeping
A key to every door worth opening
In other parts of the book, I admire Lucas’ vulnerability in recognizing and admonishing women’s strength. As a feminist, I was drawn to his presentation of women in his works. On page 106, in a poem titled Ode To Womanhood, Lucas writes,
At this point in my life, it has become painfully clear to
me that most strong women got their strength from years
of devotion to men with soft spines carrying erratic
Towards the end of the poem, he also states that
A woman’s heart shouldn’t endure the extra weight of a man’s immaturity.
Lucas words intend to liberate many women from mental and emotional burdens that they bear concerning the issues that men have. It gives another perspective to this idea of compromise in relationships which many communities and cultures have feminized unfairly.
In other poems, Lucas writes about self-love and care. In a poem on page 113, titled Hotel Room Service, he writes,
If you only listen to your heart when someone is knocking
You’ll only invite the needy in
As soon as they are fed and rested, they start to notice
the flickering lights, the leaking pipes, the bad coffee,
the dirty kitchen, the broken mirrors, the old electronics,
the cobwebs and the tear in the curtains
The noticable lack of the period punctuation in all the poems also gives a certain artistic and metaphorical endlessness to Then I Grew Wings.
Without a doubt, Lucas is an exceptionally skilled writer whose wisdom cuts across a reader’s heart. His works represent many phases of life which makes it easy for writers from diverse demographics to connect with him. Additionally, I praise Lucas for his ability to draw inspiration from simple encounters in his daily work or living. Just like Lanre Oranyeli, Lucas has proved that when you keep an open mind as a writer, you become god-like and can create beautiful works from nothing and everything.
I highly recommend Then I Grew Wings by Ogundeyi Tolu Emmanuel Lucas to readers and writers all over the world.
Lucas was born and raised in a Christian home with his three sisters in Nigeria. As a child, he developed a love for music and lyrical compositions – a habit he picked up watching his late father ceremoniously listen to Bob Marley and Fela Kuti. He has always wanted to be a medical doctor, following the footsteps of his mother who is his biggest source of inspiration Only medicine rivaled his love for art either in the form of poetry or fine art. After completing his medical degree, he began compiling his first collection of poems, and the result is ‘‘…Then I grew wings ’’. Along with writing, Lucas has also displayed his artworks at a number of exhibitions. Thousands of people follow him on Instagram and read his bi-weekly posts.
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