National Poetry Month Spotlight: Abayomi Animashaun
A NEW RELIGION
It sounds pompous. And, at best. Done:
Each one claiming a new way. Each one with its leader standing behind a lectern raising his hands. Blessing those present.
And they with eyes closed listening intently to rhythms, say, of the holy ghost. Or, for our purposes. Its equivalent.
But imagine. And stay with me on this. One where everyone already belonged: Those dead as well. And still to come.
Imagine the temples made of strands from each person’s breath. Candles lit
with dreams of the dead.
Rituals performed in the language of the unborn. And hymns, the movement of bodies stretching alone in bed. Or, beside a loved one.
And imagine each man being his own Good News: A ready-made priest. Able to
minister quietly to the needs of his heart. When all departs.
That the homeless under the bridge. With the mucous. And cold sneeze.
Contributes to the day’s hymn.
And the man, who last year broke my heart, is arriving at his new lover’s house. A priest, I hope, of loving heart. Waiting for him in the bedroom. Nude. Ready to share of his own good news.
A: As I recall, I was in Madison, Wisconsin at the time. I recall also having a massive writer’s block that day, which left me sitting on my chair for hours without writing a single word. For some reason, however, I started thinking of reality television shows and how unbearably boring one on poets might be. I was thinking about this, when I mindlessly opened a folder containing a very old poem. I moved several words around. And, as luck would have it, I stumbled upon the core of what would eventually be this poem.
Q: What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?
A: This is a hard question. And one could easily rattle off names. But, pressed, I’d have to say a collection of Montaigne’s essays. That crazy old man never ceases to amaze me. I read him over and again. And each time I read him, I feel my imagination become so thoroughly loosened that I see no inherent contradictions in equating the Pope with Don Quixote or an Imam with a pigeon.
Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?
A: I have a strange addiction to a bean delicacy common among the Yoruba, known as moin-moin. By itself, it is a chief meal – regal and august. But, it works particularly well with eko [a type of corn meal], which only goes to show that humility is not the sole property of homo sapiens.
Abayomi Animashaun is the winner of the 2008 Hudson Prize with his collection of poems The Giving of Pears, now available for purchase at Black Lawrence Press.