BETHANY MARY on “AJEBOTA” by PRECIOUS OKOYOMON

ajebota.jpg“Ajebota” refers to the class difference between those who are wealthy and privileged versus “ajepako,” those who are not. It is a privilege to be able to follow the path you love, which, for Precious Okoyomon, is writing. She appropriates different texts and draws inspiration from various sources, including print and Internet. Her poetry compilation, “Ajebota,” is a must-read for deepening one’s understanding of the world, and the divisive structures and humans within it.

The opening poem, titled “The Dreaded Female Life,” raises important questions and implications with the blunt lines, “i am sad… i am a good girl.” There are worries about a hamster being sad and wanting to trade tumultuous feelings for puppies. Crying at work in the bathroom, crying while creating poems. It’s possible that things are only okay for people when they are high.

The daily anxieties of life are taxing, and Okoyomon describes the devastation of dealing with them and the relief when the moments pass.

Okoyomon is not shy about discussing sex or using sexual words like clit and cunt. Uncensored and raw, her writing entertains the possibility of wanting to fuck and kiss everyone. It’s not hard to fall in love with everyone. You shouldn’t have to become willing to kill people who don’t love you back, because everyone should. In an ideal world, everyone would be in love with everyone, regardless of gender or racial differences.

In the real world, oppression makes it feel like you don’t exist. People throw rocks and say it is out of love.

Race is an apparent theme, with white boys telling kinky-haired girls that they look like slaves. In the real world, oppression makes it feel like you don’t exist. People throw rocks and say it is out of love. It somehow seems impossible for nonwhite women to be beautiful enough. Okoyomon tells a narrative about getting the insulting nickname Legbelolo for being overweight, getting pitiful glances from white women who fit the norm of beautiful.

Okoyomon’s drawing from the real world is also illustrated through seemingly arbitrary capitalization and a long collaborative poem in the format of iPhone texts. There is intense stress that comes from social media interaction, being seen but not really seen, on Tinder and Instagram. Confusing distance, confusing love.

When lovers back away is it because they feel too much or not enough… Is it worse to receive no love in return or less than what you give?

The poem “I’m feeling very tired and frustrated about the idea of fixing my life” ends with the line, “Nothing is more important than anything else.” A promise that soon we will be better, we will appreciate what we have, we will be seen as valuable and equal. “Let’s make one giant sweater that we all fit into… it’s an illusion that we are individuals,” is a dream from the iPhone text poem that could make a beautiful, comfortable reality, if only we would all knit the sweater together.

Follow Okoyomon on Twitter @Yung__coconut to keep up with her own reality, her dreams, life and work.

(Bottlecap Press, Poetry, 2016)

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BETHANY MARY is a meditative tea snob studying gerontology in Minnesota. She was once the poetry editor of Green Blotter Literary Magazine and now reads submissions for Spark: A Creative Anthology and Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry. As an asexual advocate for a sexual assault center and blogger for Resources for Ace Survivors, she focuses on boundaries and mental health in her own writing. Some of her work is out in the world, and she rants on Twitter @bethanylmary.

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Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.

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