Lawyer. Pop Culture Junkie. Writer. Nigerian. American. Bibliophile. Theology Nerd. Millennial. Gender Equality Believer.

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#BookedByB: Questions For Ada

#BookedByB: Questions For Ada

bury your tired bones in books written by women who survived wars like the one you are surviving. Nwanne’m, this is also a form of prayer”—Ijeoma Umebinyuo

I followed Ijeoma Umebinyuo on social media after coming across tweets and book excerpts of hers that had me like:



Ijeoma Umebinyuo was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. She started writing poems when she was ten years old. In an interview with Afroelle Magazine, Ijeoma also revealed that her Uncle, a medical school student, used to pay her to write love poems for his girlfriends when she was a teenager. Since then, her writing—a lot of it love poems to women of color—has been translated to Portuguese, Turkish, Spanish, Russian and French.

Photo Credit: @theijeoma

Photo Credit: @theijeoma

No longer satisfied by consuming Ijeoma’s words in small doses, I got around to buying her poetry collection, Questions for Ada, earlier this week. Ada is a name for “daughter” in Igboland. The title is a reflection of the themes that undergird Ijeoma’s work: home and womanhood. But Ijeoma’s poems are also about depression and light. They are about relationships (with self, with men, with mothers, with others). They are about the female experience, the black experience, and the immigrant experience: provocatively so. They are also Nigerian, and unapologetically so. Hers is poetry with utility, beautiful while meaningful. 

Photo Credit: Amazon

Photo Credit: Amazon

I like to highlight books while I read them, but after underlining almost the entire text of the first few pages of Questions for Ada, I put my pen down. Rather than study Ijeoma’s poems, I felt the need to feel them. Within an hour or two, I was done with the entire book and it felt like completing a therapy session.

Although the lines between the personal and political often blur, particular when minorities write, in this collection the personal resonated with me most.

The poems about loss, love, healing and hope;

The raw poems about diverse relationships:

Those poems reached me.

Those poems bathed my soul and fed my spirit.

Here are excerpts from a few of them: 

On Mother-Daughter Relationships

I keep finding
my mother
in parts of me
I never knew existed.

On Heartbreak

you are living
you are breathing
perhaps a bit hurt
perhaps a bit pained
you are breathing
you are breathing
and that is enough to wake
the angels still living
in your chest.

On Self-Love

Someone should have told you
the eyes of a lover are not where
you find your beauty.

Someone should have told you
never to cling to another
for a reason to feel precious.

On Ancestry

so many women
so many women
whose blood I carry
so many glorious lives
living inside me.


It seems there are still women
I have to become
to understand the woman I was.

On Depression

I don’t think you understand
some chose life last night
even if they never tell you,
they just killed
their demons
to live this morning.

On Relationships

Stay away from men who peel the skin of other women,
forcing you to wear them.
Remember how your mother struggled to find her skin in the pile

On Writing

Leave your words
to marinate on paper.
Come back and taste it,
how does it taste?

On Healing

I am learning to be patient
with my healing
and never to close my mouth
when my scars scream.

Final thought: A broken spirit dries up the bones, but good poems are medicine. 

Questions for Ada is available on Amazon.


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