Title: Sunbeams and Shadows
Name of Author: Saddiq M. Dzukogi
No. of Pages: 110
Publisher: Origami imprint of Parresia Publishers Ltd
Reviewers: Jalaludeen I. Maradun & Salamatu Sule
Saddiq is an award-winning poet. He has already published two poetry volumes each of which has won him awards and laurels. He is currently a student of Mass Communication in the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Sunbeams and Shadows is his third published poetry volume.
Sunbeams and Shadows is a volume of eighty seven poems. There is an underlying notice here as to the meaning of the title of the volume. Even though we know it is an oxymoron; a contrast between light and shade, we should think about the semantic interpretation. It is our understanding that the sunbeams represent irradiation, sunshine, sunlight and rays of light whilst shadows represent shadiness, shadowiness and penumbra. Beyond the meaning of the mere terms, a single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows – we may think that shadows only follow, precede or surround beings or objects, the crux of the matter is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and even memories. Though the title could have a number of interpretations, Saddiq tries to convince us here that if we keep our face to the sunshine, we cannot see the shadow. Alas, time is but the shadow of the world upon the background of eternity.
The title expounds Saddiq’s curious ironic imagination at its very best. The poems themselves – nifty, appealing and stunning as they are, do not always quite please the expectation aroused by the title.
In this classic poetry volume, Saddiq uses celestial objects like sunlight as contrast with shadow to measure movement of the earth as it relates to the known and the unknown. Life is full of pregnant circumstances as it walks to the embrace of the receding dusk. As the radiant sucks the very youthfulness, we do not know what tomorrow holds but we are a people full of hope. Time as represented by the Sun and Shadows always seems to take away that which it brings forth the rays of love, death and the memories it finally leaves us with. If sun be the queen of the day glues to one spot with radiating effect on our very being, our existence, the poet tells us that darkness always dethrones her. Like the sun, what we so much value never stay. The volume exposes our existential mawkishness with a heightened irony of circumstance which derides all human vanity, time causing destruction as it defies our earthly desires. Dawn, which is the opening poem, is thought-provoking as we are confronted by the reality through cycle of cluster imageries. Dawn is personified to have falls on the puzzle plate of dusk, creating a pool of wrinkles.
In line 6-7, we are confronted with the reality as:
This Child of moon and sun
Sucks gaiety from youth (Dawn)
With poems likes “Wings of Sun”, “Sky-doors”, “Life”, “Green Air”, “See the Sea”, “Dear Heaven” and “Future in Tears”, Saddiq is not only a poet but a pupil of nature, life and society. His knowledge of word-value is as propound as his knowledge of nature. He carries over the eye and method of studying society into the field of poetry, that the fresh, living, and striking forms he has created seem so perceptible. The glaring accuracies of description with which Saddiq’s poetry abounds are amazing. In some cases, the pictorial accuracy is that of a photograph taken with a lens of ice, brutally clear. There are instances where this accuracy, deepened and sharpened by satire cuts both ways. Saddiq’s gift of combining words is sure, even when you do not know what he is saying; you know that he is saying it well. One might quote many poems in proof of Saddiq’s genuine gift for language. We shall have to be satisfied with one:
Rays fall on my left side
Gulping up darkness
Deceptive print appears
On my every side
Now, everywhere I tread
Saddiq’s collection stimulates our sensory organ as he creates mental pictures through series of objects; it appeals to our sense of feeling, smell, including auditory imageries. The collection which stands out as a unique style of the poet denotes that man’s time on earth is short-lived – including friendship, love and the bond that is soon detached and the meaninglessness of life as it disappears to reappear betraying man yet again and again.
Give me the light
In its real aspect
Of darkness (line1-3, friendship of shadows)
In the last three lines of the same poem, Saddiq tells us of how sunbeams betray our friendship, and dusk as represented by shadow cause us to lose our love ones as life is cut short. Here is where sunbeams lose particles of original ray:
Between sunbeams and shadows
In a friendship that wobbles like a ship on murky waters
Sunbeams assess the shame of shadows
(Line 8-10, friendship of shadows pg14)
Saddiq’s collection is that of a wordsmith vibrant per excellence. The collection is a complex one and this has to do with understanding life, nature as it is and the cause of unraveling the too many mysteries as caused by the events of the day. His use of language is unique, the paradox is striking. The volume is rich in all form of literary devices from personification to synecdoche, enjambment and many more. The formal beauty of Sunbeams and Shadows has that quality of speed common to racing cars, aeroplanes and to those birds surviving because of their swift wings. When you read a few poems of Saddiq, you get the impression from the richness of his verbal imagination that he is a poet of rich personality. The poet is more a realist as he vividly shows the social condition of man as he wakes up to meet the challenges of everyday life. Life is not a bed of roses as it seems by the sunbeams after all. Our reservation here is the lots of shift and change in perception of moods by the persona. With Sunbeams and Shadows , Saddiq succeeds in harnessing the sun’s energy.