This week, I have had the privilege of being one of the first people to read Jude Itakali’s forthcoming book, Crossroads, due for release on 17 May 2021. It is a collection of poetry and prose-poems, combining many different poetic forms and traditions. It also contains several short stories in verse form. Jude blends all of these forms with effortless grace to bring together a collection of writing which transports the reader to a poetic landscape in which love conquers all.
About the book
Crossroads is divided into three distinct yet interconnected sections: Part 1 is entitled ‘Longing and Searching;’ Part 2 concerns ‘Love, Lust, and the Horrors of Heartbreak;’ and Part 3 deals with the theme of ‘Healing.’ The poet really takes us on a profound journey (sometimes a wild ride) through the different aspects of love, from hope via despair to freedom.
In the first section, there is an overarching motif of all-consuming love, most notably in the poem ‘The Ocean Swallowed Me Whole’ from which comes the following lines:
You reached out, asphyxiating with longing.
And I answered, drawn into your passionate woes
Drowning in the rivers of your need
Finally swallowed whole in the ocean of your love
The second section has much of Gothic horror and lustfulness in it, but with a unique and thoroughly modern twist. The prologue to this section had me feeling as though I was about to board the Ghost Train:
…strap in for the pleasures
Brace for the pains
And endure the horrors…
Many of the poems overflow with lust without venturing into the territory of explicit erotica; this is a fine line to tread, and Jude does it very well:
Her fingers like ivy
Rake blisters along my back
Our rhythm heightens to feral howls of sweet release
Slaves to our own desperation – p.58
The Gothic horror reaches its climax in the short story ‘The Presence,’ which has all the hallmarks of a traditional horror story in a modern setting.
In Part 3, after having been chewed up, devoured and spat out by love, we find some hope in the idea of renewal. Through the trials and tribulations of love, we gain greater self-understanding and arrive at the kind of self-love which enables us to truly love another. There are many gems of wisdom in this section, for example:
Once we have grieved
We slowly learn to accept
That it’s okay to be alone
We begin the journey to self-love
And in turn;
The path to better love – p.117
The collection ends with the wild and freeing romance of ‘Gypsy Love:’ an exotic, intoxicating dance of a love poem, and a perfect conclusion, having been blown about in winds of love to land with dancing feet!
Anyone already familiar with Jude’s skill in blending poetic forms with prose and storytelling is sure to love this collection, as is anyone who appreciates sumptuous, sensuous poetry delivered by a unique poetic voice. Highly recommended!
Crossroads is available for pre-order from Amazon.