Gboyega Odubanjo’s ‘Obit.’, a timely Pick of the Month for October 2018!

 

Rarely has an IS&T Pick of the Month reflected so entirely things as they are now. Four young men, ages 15-22, stabbed in south London between the 2nd and 6th November is four too many and Gboyega Odubanjo’s ‘Obit.’, though written and published before these dates, is a powerful and moving reflection on this. In the words of one voter it is ‘a devastating subject expressed with cool restraint and wry humour.’

Gboyega is a British-Nigerian poet born and raised in East London. In 2018 he completed an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of East Anglia. His debut pamphlet, While I Yet Live, will be published by Bad Betty Press in 2019.

 

Obit.
(After César Vallejo)

i will die in london in the neighbourhood
i grew up in outside the town hall
on the high street. i will have been stabbed
and my killer will look just like me so
no-one will look for him. my body
will remain dead in daylight for hours until
the sky turns more blick than blue. on the news
i will be smiling. i will be as handsome
as i have ever been. today a young man
has died they will say today a young man has died today
it will be a friday a young man has died young o so terribly
young. i will die again three days later
when i hand myself in no-one will believe it because
i will look just like me. i will look like i have died o so
many times already. i will be survived by myself
and the many times that i still have to die.

 

Additional voters’ comments include:

Another young man, today, in Anerley. Odubanjo engages so powerfully with this crisis.

I felt gutted by this poem, saddened and angered. It is incredibly powerful!

Very striking and the repeats work so effectively. I admire the simple language.

Poignant. Being handsome in the news was a nice touch.

It – quite literally – took my breath away. I gasped.

Every line packs a killer punch

Subtly surreal and innovative voice

Gboyega’s poem is heart-wrenchingly honest and political whilst still managing to create beautiful imagery with a strong, assured voice. wonderful stuff.

Bloody hell! Memorable before you even finish reading it. A proper punch of a poem

 

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