Origins of the Syma Species (African Poetry Book )
Winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets
Winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, Tares Oburumu’s collection is a brief history of where he came from: Syma, a neglected oil-producing region of Nigeria. After growing up with a single mother in the creek- and brook-marked region, and himself now a single parent, Oburumu examines single parenthood and how love defines family circles. Mixing music, religion, and political critique, Origins of the Syma Species evokes pasts and futures.
Inspired by the relative chaos found in the origin of things, Oburumu’s poems explore how the beauty of chaos binds us to our ancestral roots. In his poems Oburumu identifies with anyone who is a single parent or is dealing with the lonely trauma of a broken home. His poems instill hopefulness in a world that has the means to throw many into poverty and agony.
Praise for Origins of the Syma Species (African Poetry Book )
“Origins of the Syma Species is a supple devotional to the divinity that is movement; Tares Oburumu’s dazzling poetry travels through the fantastic, the extraterritorial, the corporeal, and the spiritual to declare, ‘This life is not mine, it is my mother’s & I am God’s lifeboat.’ Oburumu’s lines brim with restlessness and abundance, limned rich in dust, in pixel, the granular zoomed into like an airport or sudden dream before becoming panoramic—intimacies pointillize among flashes of the war-torn global. Oburumu’s swooping and sweeping aerial views take in continents at a glance even as he holds close the names of his beloved, minding them as they weave through tableaux of ‘national blood’ and empty houses. Origins of the Syma Species is a monumental work, determined to ‘write us / out of shipwreck’ poem after bravura poem.”—Douglas Kearney, author of Sho and Optic Subwoof
“In his poem ‘The Origin,’ Tares Oburumu’s capacity for the arresting line is starkly demonstrated: ‘At the end of my happiness is a house without doors.’ There is something quite memorable about this locution, and it is rich with feeling and clever with its own wit and sophistication. Of course, it helps that it makes sense in the way that the best poetic lines should—in layers and layers of meaning that are enlivened and complicated by what a reader might bring to the idea.”—from the foreword by Kwame Dawes