National Poetry Month Spotlight: Abayomi Animashaun

Taking a Siren on a Date
You need not plug your ears with wool
Or bind your chest to a chair’s rest
From fear, when she starts talking,
Of plunging into your bowl of soup,
Ramming your head against the table
And splintering your skull with wood.
When she comes in, speak to her
In a manner so reckless and sure
She knows from the outset
You’re no Odysseus.
Make clear that as god is your witness
You’ll leap into the waters first
Before you lose your right mind
To her songs or laments.
Hell, show her your mind
Wasn’t right to begin with
By talking of rivers in your town
That lean on trellises,
How you comb sea-horses
On your chin each morning,
And of blue vines and clay buttons
Boats wear when professing love
To lemons, pears, and donkeys.
And if she is incapable of realizing
You’re too far gone
To be threatened by her singing,
Stand her up. Leave.
Don’t worry about her weeping alone
By her free drink. Soon,
She’ll find one like the son of Laertes –
Who conquered the Aegean
But never found the Ithaca within.
Q: What is your writing process?
A: I try to enter the music where my soul agrees. Often, faith provides the necessary doorway. And just when I think I know what I’m doing, the doorway shifts. Becomes full of whim. And does a now-you-see-me, now-you-don’t.
But when I persevere and follow the trail beyond the confines of the intellect, I almost always arrive in a new country. Where sandals get drunk with iguanas. Caliphs fall in love with guavas. Hibiscuses grow fat from boredom. And priests have foot-races in the ancient city of Sodom…
Q : Is there an exciting poet whose work you just discovered this year?
A: Anna Valencia-Seiferle, whose gifts have been a blessing and a delight. And Megan Kaminski, whose Desiring Map I can’t seem to put down.
Q: If you could go on a one-week writing retreat to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Serifos.
Abayomi Animashaun is a Nigerian émigré, who won the 2008 Hudson Prize for his poetry collection The Giving of Pears.