The Blue Sunset is a book of poetry by first-time author Azeezat Jolade Aminu, who addresses universal themes that are even more timely during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic: anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, sadness, reaching out for help, and as she eloquently states in the dedication, “to all fighting the battle of self … trying to understand themselves a little better.”
The book is broken down into four sections: What I See, What I Feel, What I Reflect, and What I Want. What I See is her reaction to today’s world: connection (or lack thereof) to other, the concept and contradiction of “hero,” greed, politics, education (or lack thereof) – all constructs outside of herself and targets of her viewpoint.
What I Feel begins with a short, poignant description” The chaos inside me. What I battle with every day I am aware.” The poet proceeds to lay her soul bare with her struggles of meeting ever-changing societal standards, insomnia (an ever-growing side effect of the pandemic), awkwardness (“I am the least put together person I know” – familiar words to anyone who’s struggled to fit in), suicide, depression, loneliness, and the most powerful poem in this section, a two-sentence construction: “I find it easy to lie to myself / Do you?” Most self-aware readers will answer affirmatively.
What I Reflect is how the author presents herself to the world, the mask she and everyone else puts on every day. “YOLO” — you only live once – examines the craze that consumed the world before COVID-19, hence she vows to “Enjoy my youth before my time expires / So, I am going to be saying YOLO, YOLO …” “Conviction” explores the strength of love, and then two brief poems, only a few lines each, but carrying a knockout punch: “Shit,” a succinct summation of what anyone can do with the manure that is life, and “Hurdle,” what one has to do to survive.
What I Want focuses on love and emotion, ranging from parental relationships – loving a parent, losing them — as well the joys and pain of romantic love – she complains “I am a fool for you” in “Lost Love,” and rails against the falsehoods of a faithless lover in “Pretense”: “I am forced to pretend not to hate you,” and the unreachable in “Absent Lover Pt. 1”: “I get confused sometimes as he is just one of the gods / The others exactly or equally god-lie / But I can’t take my eyes off him.”
After the poems, Ms. Aminu includes Notes, in which she explains the emotions that drove her writing. At a time when most poetry feels restrictive and remote, Ms. Aminu goes out of her way to make hers reader-friendly.
Although all the poems are written from the view of a young adult in the early 21st century, Ms. Aminu’s verse relates to readers of all ages, as none are free from the vulnerabilities she describes. Her deep sensitivity toward suffering, hope, elation, and pain renders The Blue Sunset one of the most accessible poetry volumes of 2020.