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Review: A Booktiful Love Poetry Collection by Tolu' A. Akinyemi

A short yet entertaining read, A Booktiful Love by Tolu' A. Akinyemi is a poetry collection of works that assess the damage done to our souls by society and other social movements through pointing out that "it's okay not to be okay".

“Speak your truth, fearless!”

As someone who has never read a full poetry collection book before, A Booktiful Love was full of wonderful and insightful surprises that are definitely applicable to the lives of many individuals today.

The author, Tolu’ A. Akinyemi, does a terrific job at examining his own truths in poems like “Writers”, while also recognizing the truths of others by revealing the problems prevalent within current global issues today such as the “pain and sorrow” of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a very timely piece of work that is highly relatable and effective in engaging his readers during a time where “freedom is on lockdown”.

My favorite poem within the collection, “Write for Rights”, sends a strong message to readers like me who wish to make a difference in their world by acknowledging the fact that words have a huge impact on others, especially when targeting controversial issues such as the Black Lives Matter Movement #BLM in America, which needs individuals on all platforms to “write to change the narrative that history has thrust upon us... so that we can make it right.”

By stating that he “know[s] of the gloom that clouds your day” and “the bile the status quo serves [us] for breakfast”, Akinyemi creates a sense of unity and understanding between himself and his audience, so that we all desire political and social change by the end of the book.

“I repeat: your dreams are valid.”

In addition to global movements, Akinyemi also appeals to the reader’s own personal dreams and emotions through poems such as “Neophyte” and “Your Dreams Are Valid” because by stating that “[the reader’s] voices are authentic” as his own and “It’s okay to start small”, Akinyemi reassures the reader that their lives are significant in the world.

For all of us, “with a heart of books”, Akinyemi’s words capture a sense of doubt of existence that precedes and continues through generations.

In the current generation of “clout chasers”, “slay queens” and “Instagram billionaires with no known source of wealth” listed in “Pertinent Questions”, Akinyemi urges his readers to take a closer look at what we have all become, and if we are a part of the problem.

“Reading walks away in surrender with a look that screams: ‘They don’t read books anymore!’”

As an individual who values literature and an analyzation-based thought process, I agree with a lot of the points made in A Booktiful Love. For instance, the “veil of deceit” that is “ethnocentrism” gives white readers like me a different perspective on what it means to be an African American living in Europe today.

I believe that Akinyemi himself has a unique view on these issues as a Nigerian author living in the UK, so that I often wonder what it is like for African Americans to see the chaos occurring within the United States in 2020 regarding police brutality and other issues.

Personally, I may have not gotten all of the references made within his political poems due to not knowing enough about black history and the UK political atmosphere right now, but for someone who is very familiar with these issues I am sure there is much more within A Booktiful Love to be appreciated.

However, although controversial, Akinyemi’s various works explore not only his own cultural roots, but also materialism, which allows the reader to see that even though he may be living across an ocean, we are not as different as we may seem.

Overall, Akinyemi’s collection of poems within A Booktiful Love was a very different yet definitely interesting read for me, and my advice while reading this is best said in the authors own words: “Read it slow, digest it slowly.”

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