Book Review: Mines & Mind Fields- My Spoken Words

Author: Njeri Wangari

Published by: Nsemia Inc Publishers (www.nsemia.com)

Available:The book is available at all Silverbird stores, Bookpoint, African Book Service, Kenyatta University Bookshop, UON bookshop, Multimedia in Rongai, Chania retailing at Ksh. 750 as well All major bookshops in Kenya.

The book is also available on Amazon

Reviewed by: Faith Oneya

Njeri Wangari’s richly woven lines in the poetry collection are testament to her years of hard work as a poet both on and off-stage. In my younger years, I attended Open Mic sessions held by WAPI (Courtesy of the British Council) and Kwani? Where I saw this young lady spin words and crowds into cheer. (In case you have not noticed, this was an attempt at rhyming. 😉

That Njeri Wangari is a lyrical genius is evident right from the beginning to the end: Sample this from 10th Daughter of Mumbi

“I am the seed of relationships gone cold

Chilly as the wafting wind drying a girl’s wet eyes

Who on every trip to fetch water from the river

A man held her behind, in bushes with promises of love and joy

With wild flowers and sweet bush berries

Turning her toes into Picasso hands

That drew figures and imageries on the dry red soil

On a hazy sunset,

At the foot of the valley that separated his and her homes.”

The poetry explores different themes: From womanhood, relationships, modernism, urban life, the internet invasion, Africanhood and Politics. Each poem seems to bear a lesson told in a witty and charming manner.

The poet makes use of both formal and informal styles of writing often using sheng, Gikuyu and its hybrids and has the uncanny ability (like the chameleon , I think) to be the voice of whichever persona she chooses for her poetry.

She captures the voice of the conflicted woman in: 10th Daughter of Mumbi, a hawker in Maisha ya Hawker, a village woman in Women Bahaving Badly and a man in What is to be a man.

While the poetry is generally socially conscious, fluid  and original , it could do with a little more editing in order to do more justice to the poems. This genre, unlike others, is heavily dependent on each and every word uttered or written due to its brevity. Misplaced punctuation marks here and there in the book could very well have been avoided had the editor been keener. Some cliché phrases like “Change is the only constant” in the poem Wordsmith only serve to water down the message and beauty of the rest of the lines in the poem.

 I dare say that Njeri is from the new generation of poets that speak boldly about contemporary societal ills-whether done deliberately or not. Buy the book!Read interview with author here: https://literarychronicles.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/interview-with-njeri-wangari-author-of-mines-mind-fieldsmy-spoken-words/

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Author: Faith Oneya

Lover of the written and spoken word.

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