TITLE: The Men That Couldn’t Love Me
AUTHOR: M. Chidi Okorie
NUMBER OF PAGES: 75
PUBLISHER: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
DATE OF PUBLICATION: October 1, 2018
REVIEWER: Shoola Oyindamola
“Art and love are the same things: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.”
― Chuck Klosterman
One of my favorite books of all times that explores human conscience is titled Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) authored by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. I hated that book as much as I loved it because it was written skillfully in a way that tortures the reader unconsciously while informing them about the intention to torture them. Beyond the renewed moral sense I gained from reading Mistakes Were Made, was my attraction towards the art of being human and the structure of our moral difficulty that Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson forced the reader to experience during their analysis.
Similarly, Marie Chidi Okorie did a great job in torturing the reader with the first pages of her book that explored a lover’s endless cycle of wanting despite not being wanted. Imagine reading “I want you” in different languages and other words for about a thousand times. There was an emotional upset I felt about my desire to know how this will end while admitting my awareness of the author’s intention.
Even physically, the book’s structure and the lack of pagination, which I suspect was intentional, contributed to the sense of being lost that the persona in the poems had. With these subtle structures, one would be forced to understand what it feels like loving a person who isn’t responding to one’s love.
Marie used a lot of repetition to emphasize her intention. In a poem tagged `20, she writes;
Once I loved you,
A million times you liked me.
One day you loved me.
I did not know what to feel.
I thought it was love.
I thought it was love.
I hate how you ruined me
I fed on nothing.
You fed on me.
As empathetic as I felt for this character, I thought that her love was strange. It was so selfless that it became selfish. On the surface, one may assume that the book is about the person she was giving all her love, attention and affection to but received none from. However, through another perspective, one would discover a narcissism this person had. Through the latter perspective, the book is really just about her; how she feels deserving of a person because of all, she was willing to give away of herself. Although her words describe and divert attention to a failing lover, her uncountable use of “I” reveals a subtle narcissism that she isn’t admitting. This book is like a puzzle and the more attention you pay to subtle clues hanging around corners, the more interesting you would find it.
In a poem tagged 30, Marie writes;
I will not write about
you and me
I will not write about
How I sit at the very same spot.
Would it seem I am unwell?
That I still think of you?
I will not write how I think
you are thinking
what I am thinking-
This is torture.
In this poem, the persona seems like her and us; very relatable. This is us when we are sad, yet search for “slow, sad songs that will make you cry” on YouTube, and then we cry and feel bad for feeling even sadder and cry more that we are crying.
The persona says “I will not want you…” The tenses in her expressions to prove freedom from this emotional and obsessive bondage reveal a procrastination of certainty. Despite communicating liberation, non-verbally she is saying, I have the power not to want you, but right now I will want you and later, let you go.
On a page tagged 32, Marie writes;
Sometimes I wonder where I get it from.
The abundance of unreasonable hope.
And though life has dealt me too many blows,
Somehow, there is a ray of hope.
Here, upon seeing both perspectives, I am uncertain if it is an unreasonable hope that she will be loved in return or that she can let go, none of which is coming to pass. In my thoughts about love and relationships with other people, through Marie Chidi’s book, The Men that Couldn’t Love Me; I made several conclusions.
Towards the ending of the book, on a page tagged 43, Marie writes;
Between you and I
is what lovers will never be.
Between love and lovers
is what we’ll always be.
Between you and me
between love and lovers,
between our love,
between that love,
is something we’ll never know.
Not all affection or people that walk into the doors of your heart come to stay. Some are just visitors, and some travelers paying for your time with a desire for them… when their time is up, you must learn to open the doors and let them go. Open your windows and air their spirits out.
Did the persona move on? Did she take responsibility for waiting too long? Did she eventually get her lover to turn to her?
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