By John Kariuki
Elizabeth Orchardson-Mazrui has several titles to her name, which include Nzinga, the Warrior Queen, Sheila, Let’s Write to God and Adventures of Mekatilili.
The poems in Bittersweet explore themes such as love, betrayal, dislocation and self-introspection. These refreshing poems, written in easy to read language, also tackle poverty, duplicity, womanhood, war, the West’s imperialism and the paradox of Africa’s stupendous resources and her myriad political problems.
The author’s wordplay is outstanding. She utilises the major figures of speech that distinguish poetry from other literary genres namely: connotation, denotation, hyperbole, imagery, symbolism, metaphor, personification, and paradox, among others. Witness how the longetivity of trees is beautifully rendered in Mighty Oaks: I stand still in wonder/That such majesty/Has witnessed silently/Generations come and go.
The author’s use of imagery gives the poems an arresting command and power. One easily feels and mentally touches the many vistas described.
- 1 Legendary artist who gave art the African perspective
- 2 Poetic license
- 3 Artist now finds beauty in buttons
- 4 Legendary artist who gave art the African perspective
- 5 Poetic license
- 6 Artist now finds beauty in buttons
The personae created by the author search for answers on many nuances of attraction, creating a mix of relationship twists and turns at the heart of all living people.
In the anthology’s section called war games, Elizabeth Orchardson-Mazrui indicts capitalists, who come, plunder and pillage and leave strife in their wake and have the audacity to preach democracy.
In the poem Warmonger she says in one stanza: You hide behind sweet words/Peace-Democracy-Liberation/Globalisation-Allied Forces/and manipulate the United Nations/While you greedily fill and refill/Your bottomless barrels.
By examining many aspects of individual and social issues, Bittersweet is bound to excite many readers. Its simplicity of grammar and meaning debunks the myth that poetry is hard to grasp and enjoy. Indeed, this anthology is apt for the secondary school students and the general reader with a basic command of English. It has something for everybody.