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  Obiamaka Angela Udevi-Onwuka’s ‘Floruit’ is a soulful and wholesome collection of poems that tastefully explores broad themes that depict human struggles, life lessons, loss, relationship travails and love expectations. A riveting collection that will awaken or rekindle’s one love for poetry and keep one glued to the pages from start to finish. I find myself drawn to these two poems from the entire collection: ‘Floruit’ and ‘Pandemonium’.
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In full bloom, they came calling. I, the late bloomer, had finally grown into myself. I blossomed gloriously. My happiness and confidence were an irresistible scent. My beautiful petals, the perfect icing on the cake That drew men like moths to flame. In ‘floruit’, the poet’s tone ranges from confident in the first and second stanzas to conciliatory in the third stanza and defiant in the last stanza. For me, this range is symbolic of the title and theme in itself. Many women would relate to this poem as it explores themes of beauty in femininity, societal expectations and inhibitions as regards marriage and female consciousness and liberation from these shackles that tend to cause women to conform and settle for less than they ought to. The visual imagery of a flower in bloom piques the reader’s imagination and is metaphoric to the beauty of a woman fresh out of the adolescent or teen ages, one who is fast becoming an adult. In line five, another metaphor is well depicted, ‘my beautiful petals, the perfect icing on the cake’. The beautiful petals here could be likened to the overall physique or anatomy of the growing female that attracts and holds her suitors spellbound.
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In the last line of stanza three, the poet also invokes visual imagery of a shrivelled flower to depict the metaphor that a woman’s biological clock ticks and there comes a time when her beauty wanes. In all, the mood of this poem is sombre, reflective and undaunted because, in spite of all the curve balls and pressure to conform (even to the threat of ending up ‘shrivelled’ and alone), the persona remains confident and determined to remain in control and stay in bloom, and not allow herself to be plucked off by any Tom, Dick or Harry. She awoke to the furious rumble With sweaty palms, she groped in the dark for her treasure  A wrapper secured her bundle to her As she stumbled towards the exit An earth-shattering boom had her jumping Through the window into the chaos Another riveting poem in this beautifully crafted collection is ‘Pandemonium’. It is a narrative poem of fifteen lines with powerful visual imagery that plunges readers into a dark world of violence, war and anarchy. The tone of the poet is that of immense trepidation and loss. ‘The pregnant darkness’ is symbolic of how chaotic and ephemeral a war-ravaged nation could be. The sad fate that ultimately befell the persona and her ‘treasure’ leaves the reader with a feeling of immense loss and an inevitable lesson and a reminder that in war, there is no ‘ark’, and no redemption for treasures lost. The themes of loss, chaos and uncertainty of life are explored and the pervading mood is gloomy and somber.
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In conclusion, Obiamaka Angela Udevi-Onwuka’s ‘Floruit’ is a must-read for every lover of literature as it is a kaleidoscope of different thought patterns that is insightful and clearly conveyed in simple, and mostly unambiguous diction. Floruit is available in ebook and paperback formats
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This article was first published on 18th September 2023

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