We are pleased to present The IKEMEFUNA Tributaries: a parable for paranoia – a poetry chapbook by JK Anowe with cover art by Robert Rhodes and a foreword by Laura M. Kaminski (Halima Ayuba). Download the chapbook here: The Ikemefuna Tributaries
I first encountered JK Anowe’s poetry in Gnarled Oak Issue 4: A Parachute in the Wind during July 2015. I was intrigued by his poem “Fragments” and sought out the poet on Facebook in the hope of finding more of his work. I will admit to being a little surprised to discover that JK Anowe was, in fact, the penname of Antoni Okafor, at that time a student in the Department of Foreign Languages at the University of Benin.
During the months between then and now, we have become friends, colleagues, and collaborators; we have been published together in collaboration with artwork by Melissa D. Johnston (artist, poet, and editor of Creative Thresholds) at Poetry Life & Times. It is an honor and delight for me, then, to have the pleasure of introducing his first publicly-available collection here at Praxis Magazine in digital chapbook form: The IKEMEFUNA Tributaries: a parable for paranoia.
a parable for paranoia is the first of a series of chapbook-length epistles. In this first epistle, the narrative persona resonates with a somber lyric quality reminiscent of the scripture and hymns of various faith traditions, and the poems do contain religious references, but a parable for paranoia is far from a psalm or praise-song. Instead, its eleven poems take the measure of the actions and attentions of gods and historic figures, and find them wanting.
While a parable for paranoia is far from the first collection of poems I’ve read that sets out to take a critical accounting of gods and men, it is the first I’ve encountered where the narrative persona remains consistently solemn and dignified, where melancholy does not degenerate to melodrama, mourning does not degrade to whining, where challenge and disagreement are presented not as uncontrolled rage, but rather as a quiet indictment of the insufficiencies of old gods and leaders. These poems are a lyric documentation of the inadequacies of past guardians and guides, and perhaps also our own historic inadequacies in the roles of believers and followers.
The narrative persona of this epistle manages to retain an uncommon dignity, not of posing in pride, but of whatever that part is that is left of a person after all betrayals, abandonments, insults, and injustices have been suffered – whatever part remains after all else has been stripped away, the voice of the speaker in “vii. ablutions” who says: but his tongue was his / and mine is not under leash.
I invite you to move forward and join the narrator of a parable for paranoia to explore what remains steadfast within the ruins. And when you have finished reading these poems, keep an eye open for the next two epistles forthcoming in the series: ije [poems away from home] and twelve leftover baskets.
Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba), March 2016
Download the chapbook here: The Ikemefuna Tributaries