by Faith Linyonyi
- ‘When did you realise that you were a violent person?’ Perilious Journey
- There’s a TikTok that asks people what piece of literature lives in their mind rent free. If I was a TikToker, this would definitely be the piece of literature I would quote. I remember the first time I read that line. I was on the Nairobi – Nakuru highway, living my best soft life, kuwakunywa mdogo mdogo na reusable straw. I had been reading lines from the book, then taking time to look at the escarpments as I unpacked the thoughts this book provoked.
I don’t need to tell anyone how chaotic 2020 was but Wueh! It was the year I realised I cause a lot of chaos. I read this line over and over until the question refined into: ‘When did I realise I was a political person?’ I guess I always was. I just never became aware of how hard I fight to protect my politics and how unapologetic I am about my violence.
Reading through Perilious Journey is such a personal thing, it’s the type of book that you read and take minutes thinking about your life then remember that errand you have to run then have discussions with people about the stuff you read then go back to the book when you are ready for more.
The verses have spaces in between them so I jotted stuff on my copy when they came to me.There’s a part where (spoiler alert) people are taking their trash to some house and I was just imagining a house where people take their men to be assessed. Worst part is if the ticket master rejects your trash and you have to back home with your man. That’s one Perilious Journey I would like to read about. Lol.
Here’s a quick list of some of my favorite quotes from the book:
● “And redemption is not a right, but a grace. Trapped in a graceless world, will you journey on?
● ‘There will always be more objects. There will never be enough room. And the poem continues.’
● ‘And the way he talks of bravery, fear and courage as though they are separate conceptsdoesn’t sit well with me.’
”What endures?’ Yvonne Owuor in Dust
My favorite thing about books is that they always seem to be in conversation with each other even though they have never met. I am beginning to think they have a life of their own. It seems every book builds up on the ones I have read before even when the ideas are completely new.
So the books are talking to each other and they are also talking to me. So for this one, it was all beautiful stories nini nini until woop! You get to a page where the poet says something that just pierces right through your heart and you are left questioning your life choices.
There is so much beauty in language.So much beauty in seeing an artist who speaks the same language as you create something that touches you so deeply. Not only has this book become areference point for a lot of things but it also made me curious and excited about all the new stuff people are churning out.
I can’t quite say my relationship with reading poetry has been a romantic one. That’s pretty sad, no? If there’s one thing that screams romanticise it’s definitely poetry. But I guess I am not patient when it comes to reading it. If I find myself struggling to catch the drift of the text, I easily put it aside and thus I have labelled myself ‘not a poetry person’.
Once in a while I come across a book like Koleka Putuma’s Collective Amnesia or I hear Mbosso singing and I think woah! Poetry is so beautiful! Maybe I should give it a chance. Then Iread a piece where the poet’s bio is longer than the piece and the two or three lines get so much acclaim but it does so little to me I end up dismissing the whole genre. I believe not all works of art are for me. So when I find some that I easily resonate with, I get super excited.
I really like how accessible The Perilious Journey was. I read it towards the end of 2020 so I really did not have time to decipher any tricky poetry things. The back cover even says that the book is meant for everyone and I can happily say that whether you actually call Maina regularly to tell him things on radio, or you have overused the phrase and are looking forward to the next thing in Kenyan language, these verses of poetry will speak to you whatever stage you’re at.
Now that I’ve cracked the Perilious Journey, I feel confident enough to pick Michelle Angwenyi’s book and maybe see what else is out there.The world of poetry was patiently waiting for me. I am glad I am now home.
‘Oh baby, do you wanna make it better?
Uh, ha, do you wanna stay together?
Hey, if you do, then let’s please
Make some new memories’