The Arts

January 27, 2024

Akubo’s gripping Sonnets of Motherhood 

By  Dr. Ifeoma Ezinne Odinye

Kaltume Akubo’s Sonnets of Motherhood is a collection of poems purported to give natural and complex perspectives of motherhood in unfixed verse forms—a poetic approach distinct from the Petrarchan and Shakespearean Sonnets. 

Akubo’s poetic sense celebrates motherhood by reiterating a natural paradigm that resonates in the human context. The poet’s verse is inspired by factual evidence woven around the myths of motherhood with attributes of care, love, nurture, sweetness and tenderness. Akubo’s consciousness is revived by the “mental note of all the memories the years gave” (Sonnets of Motherhood, 1).

Her brilliant insights in this collection are replete with innate psychic phenomenon of mommyism—the unconscious passion that manifests from procreation. Significantly, in the poem “Joys of Motherhood”, the poet observes that the myth of motherhood is wrapped in the fundamentals of reproducing offsprings— “with dawn’s first light/ A child wakes to a wondrous sight/ Of the mother’s celestial smile/ And her warmth embrace/Filling both with such peaceful grace” (Sonnets of Motherhood, 2). These inspired expressions resonate a physical and spiritual journey of unspeakable mood laced with the outpouring of emotions—a strong and stable link between mothers and their newborns.

A more complex kind of attitude is noticeable—it is not so difficult to associate mothers’ nature with a point of view that is laced with pure love and selfless philosophy of life: “In her eyes, a gleam so pure/ Such delightsome sight, / The joys of motherhood are forever a delight” (Sonnets of Motherhood, 3). Questioning the fundamentals behind this philosophy is essentially being sadistic—a barbaric attack on a mother’s purity of heart. No wonder the poet affirms a sensational pattern of thought in the world to celebrate mothers. She confesses: “So let us celebrate the joys of motherhood, / No love has humanity seen like that of a mother” (Sonnets of Motherhood, 3).

Certainly, the orality of Akubo’s collection of poems reveals a vision capable of regenerative culture of motherhood amongst contemporary mothers. The use of arresting images closely associated with people’s thoughts with a strong sense of realism also reveals the poetics of Akubo’s orality. In the poem “I Didn’t Understand”, the poet interrogates the myth of motherhood—a multi-dimensional nature/attitude that remains unambivalent. The poet’s rhetoric is a confession to absorb a poetic blend that reflect mothers’ essence.

She writes: “I didn’t understand the tales mothers tell/ On how baby sleeps and lullabies/ As they cry to communicate needs until learnt to speak/ Never have I understood mother’s diaries/ Until I held my own and the ever-familiar feelings came rushing in” (Sonnets of Motherhood, 4).The poem “Mother and Sacrifice” further depicts subtle ways mothers weave in sweetness to nurture humanity to the detriment of themselves. The persona confesses that “She gives her body and her heart/ and all she can control divinely, / to birth life into the world, a baby boy or baby girl. / Giving up some sleep at the infant days” (Sonnets of Motherhood, 10). The orality of Akubo’s poetry is technically arresting as Motherhood embraces a complex dimension related to ecology, cultural worldview and history.

 In fact, the shift in her metaphoric worldview interrogates life and cultural milieux. The connection between history/culture and mothers is absorbed in the essentials of motherhood. In the poem “Culture Tales”, Akubo asserts: “The strokes of storytellers write history through every act/ like a woman weaving beautiful tapestry through time/ History birthing every act like a pregnant woman birthing greatness” (Sonnets of Motherhood, 13).