Journeys of Life, by Sabinah Adewole, is a collection of 102 poems. They are, for the most part, personal accounts of the author’s life experiences, as well as her reflections on human existence. The book resembles a journal in the form of poems, with topics ranging from an ordinary and uneventful bus journey to a pilgrimage to the Sea of Galilee to be baptized in the Jordan River.
Many of Adewole’s poems are about her travels. She is clearly a world-traveler and poetically narrates her trips to various places in Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Nigeria, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Oman, and Israel. She makes remarks about cruise ships, trains, airports, and hotels. There are also poems about emotions and life’s challenges and troubles. The author examines themes such as grief, forgiveness, resilience, and loneliness. I particularly enjoyed the poems regarding mundane objects and items – a bar stool, coffee, mirrors, and stairs – and how they are transformed by imagination and lyricism.
The author does not use any definitive structure or rhyme scheme. Using free verse, she gives each poem a peculiar spin – some bear a resemblance to sonnets, others reminded me of concrete poetry. In many of them she repeats the first word in every verse, stressing the core idea and creating an interesting rhythm. The words itself are sometimes used to create imagery or feeling. In poem 16 (Strife), for example, Adewole masterfully explores the many words that describe strife. By doing so, she evokes an atmosphere without actually referring to a specific situation.
Journeys of Life reminded me of how the French poet Paul Valéry compared prose to walking and poetry to dancing. I felt as if Adewole was dancing through life and inviting the reader to join her. Her poetry is optimistic, motivational, and heart-warming. She makes things very personal and directly interacts with the readers, encouraging them to look for pleasure and beauty in everyday life – a noteworthy positive point. My favorite was poem 76 (Beeboh), in which the author inspects her name and how she loves it.
Lastly, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. I’m taking a star away because I don’t believe the book is yet in its most polished form – I found a few editing errors in it. Other than that, Journeys of Life is a relaxing and lovely read that will appeal to those who enjoy poetry, especially from a feminine perspective. I wouldn’t recommend it to readers that are not fond of poems.