#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.
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.
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
Final thought: A broken spirit dries up the bones, but good poems are medicine.
Questions for Ada is available on Amazon.