Sacrament of Bodies

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Mar 2020

Member Reviews

A very emotional read, "Saddest Night Alive" and "At Udi" stood out to me, but I found great ideas and metaphors throughout the entire collection. I'll definitely look up Romeo Oriogun's future releases! 3,5/5 upon a reread I might appreciate it even more!
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Such a wonderful poetry collection. I'm not normally one to gravitate towards poetry, but I wanted to only support black authors this month and going out of my comfort zone has been a goal of mine for the entire year, so I picked it up. And when I read that it discusses being gay in Nigeria, I was instantly interested as, being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community myself, I'm also extremely interested in seeing that representation and reading about different experiences, especially in places more unfamiliar to me. Overall, it was a huge learning experience and I'm really grateful and honored to have read something that felt so personal and meaningful.

The poetry itself was fantastic; not too inaccessible, but also not too fluffy and light. The perfect in between to get your mind really thinking while still understanding the content. I think my favorites were Boy, The Queer Boy Remembers Colonization, and Everything Must Die. Those will stay with me forever and I swear I have them bookmarked into infinity.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an open and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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"What is freedom
if a million people
still walk with the fear of being seen?"
..
Sacrament of Bodies is a heartbreakingly beautiful collection. It shines a light on what it is to be a queer man in Nigeria and it does not hold punches. There are depictions of violence that are hard to read at times. And he juxtaposes that against beautiful depictions of queer love. There is yearning and love and loss. It feels as if you're reading a diary at times or others listening to a confession. I'd highly recommend it!
..
"I do not know their names,
but I know this is how we are still alive, even with the scars and curses and fear, we are still holding to each other, we are still calling our names
and saying, we belong to this land."
..
Received a free temporary ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Sacrament of Bodies is a beautiful, heart-wrenching collection exploring themes of sexuality, freedom, grief, loss, family, belonging, and identity. Oriogun excels at presenting the realities of being queer in a culture where expressing that identity is not only dangerous, but deadly. Each poem carries a great weight, requiring the reader to sit with it for a bit before moving on to the next. It is definitely not a book to be read in one sitting. It is to be savored and grappled with over time. Some standouts for me: Departure, At Udi, and Prelude to Freedom.
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I don’t have any words for how heartbreaking this poetry collection is. I can’t even begin to describe the pain detailed in the poetry. I don’t even know how to really rate it because the poetry is just so painful, the poems discuss violent homophobia in Nigeria.

The poetry about gay love was beautifully written, however. Queer love poetry is simply divine.
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Fantastic, literary, both beautiful and guttural at times — Romeo Oriogun captures a range of emotions and experiences. These are words from an insightful poetic voice.
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While I have very little in common with the author as a young, gay, Nigerian man, I appreciate the raw honesty and artistic beauty in this poetry collection. Oriogun walks the line between poetic and understandable well. His poems aren't so cryptic that you can't tell what he's talking about, but he also uses his words artistically.

From Elegua:

Elegua, guide my coming out,
give me the power of walking between shadows and light.
Yemoja, send waves to wash away the blood waiting in dark corners.
Every time I look up to the stage,
I feel someone raising a gun,
I must keep walking in the dark.

I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for the purpose of review.
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"I was born to be darkness hiding under a cave, 
I know the weight of exile in a body."

Romeo Oriogun's collection of poetry deals with the heartbreaking realities of being young and queer in Nigeria, forever walking the thin line on the margin of a culture that prescribes heteronormative manliness and sexuality at all costs. The language and imagery of the poems illustrate the particular violence of living in the shadows. Oriogun often translates the emotional through the body:

as in yearning: "I want to find home in the rooms of your veins." 

or in violence: "In your room, your father smashes our bones against the wall, 
our blood mingles, sings Kumbaya as it streaks into the rug.
Tell me this is not love,
tell me this is not how couples run into sunsets."

The poems are accessible, some even dipping into 'dear diary' type youthful reflections. However, as many of the poems are dealing with the youthful perspective of first love, heartbreak, coming out, father-son relationships, etc, the younger, naive tone doesn't necessarily detract from the emotional heart of the poems and, in some cases, may even enhance it.

While some of the poems definitely stand stronger than the others, I will say that all in all this is a very emotional collection from a writer I look forward to seeing more from in the future.

Than you to Netgalley and University of Nebraska Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review
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I still don't know much about poetry, even after writing some lengthy essay. I requested this ARC more or less because I want to read more poetry, more queer poetry specifically, and because I didn't want my semester in African Literature to be in vain.
I know enough about poetry to say that it's good when you stay awake until 1:30am to finish the collection in one go. Poetry is good when you are grabbed and held in place by an emotion you can't put into words, because the that would mean reciting the poem back at itself again. Or when you set out to highlight your favourite passages and end up with neon yellow pages
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Oriogun's poetry examines his sexuality within Nigerian culture, intersecting violence, religion, family, and lovers. He uses sexual metaphors to show readers his struggle with familial, spiritual, and societal acceptance. This is something I've seen recently from a few gay poets, so while not wholly unique, Oriogun's poems dealing with anti-gay violence and his positive relationships in NIgeria makes for a compelling and heartbreaking reading.
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