LOST GIRLS, a poetry chapbook by Akello Charlotte.
I have mixed feelings about written poetry. Barring the ability or inability of the reader knowing how to read poetry, a poorly crafted poem can be nothing more than a drab sputter of words on a page with the poet drowning in overused cliches. However, crafted well, written poetry can transport you and touch those places locked away within your heart of hearts and deepest corners of your mind that you will be looking around you just to make sure nobody can see your nakedness which the poet has laid bare on a page, a stairwell going down into an abyss that just keeps going; exciting and frightening. Charlotte Akello harnesses this skill admirably in this her very first chapbook, Lost Girls.
Lost Girls is Charlotte exploring topics close to her heart like Family, Home, heritage, war and womanhood, exploring the aspects that define her. The collection is laced with a sombre tone and delivered in such true honesty, akin to works pulled from the writer’s deepest and darkest corners, that it makes me feel guilty for knowing some of her deepest feelings. Picture stumbling upon her personal diary.
She keeps her poems as stripped down as she can allow, reducing the useless chatter. Somewhat similar to the way she strips her soul bare while writing the poems and as she searches for meaning and identity.
In the first poem, “Home – a crevice”, intriguing is her mixture of displeasure and contentment with which she describes home. She shows a need within her to break out and soar but yet, in the third line, shows a contentment of the comfort she feels when home, using words like “warm”.
One of my favorite works in the collection is “Songs” in which she borrows music as a metaphor to reveal the futility of our aspirations, how we wait for a coming generation that will instead use our gravestones as anchors for their houses. God knows I love metaphors!
Charlotte’s choice of words is also quite enviable. It showed that she put some effort into finding suitable words for a suitable phrase, for a suitable image. I constantly found myself thinking,“I wish I had coined that!”
The collection wasn’t short of humour either. In her piece, “Crossing Ugandan Roads”, she describes the dilema that may beset a pedestrian trying to wade through the raving mad hysterical drivers and riders of Uganda. Though quite lighthearted, the poems point on a serious matter of road user indiscipline. With the context of the chapbook, I might hazard a guess and say this perticular piece reflects the confusion in her mind as she tried to answer the questions of the lost girl within her, coming in contact with indiscipline people in her walk of life and the occasional “angels rare this side”.
All in all, Lost Girls is a beautiful collection of heartfelt honest poems seeking to find meaning and direction. Any lover of poetry must get his/her hands on this chapbook. I will leave you with Charlotte Akello’s opening words in the chapbook:
“I want to tie home around my neck and walk away.”
To get the LOST GIRLS chapbook contact;
Facebook; Charlotte Ake Lottie