The Year of Fire Book party was an official unveiling of the book of poems, The Year of Fire by Femi Morgan. The book party was organised by Baron’s Cafe, the publishing brand of Fairchild Media, and the People of Femi Morgan, a collective of friends of the author, at the Jelosimi Art Centre, Oshodi, Lagos on Saturday,27th of November 2021.
Femi Morgan is a writer, media consultant, and art curator. He is the author of six books of poetry. He was longlisted for the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation Prize in 2015 and was selected for the Writivism Poetry Workshop in the same year.
He is also the author of Renegade. Renegade was shortlisted for the 2019 Pius Adesanmi Memorial Prize for Literature, selected amongst the 2019 Lagos Book and Arts Festival books, LABAF, and is currently being translated to Portuguese. Femi Morgan has also curated art and culture projects for more than ten years. Femi Morgan’s most recent book, The Year of Fire reflects on humanity at the time of COVID19 lockdown, it was first published internationally by Baron’s Cafe in the year 2020.
The event was graced largely by a collective of friends, foreign friends of the art centre and fellow contemporaries of the author. Enitan Sophie Oluwa, a lawyer, gender rights advocate and social worker and Babatunde Odubanwo, a communications person held sway as moderators who asked intellectual and personal questions. They also engaged the audience by allowing them ask questions and share experiences.
The party also featured performing poets,Rez Afolabi, Uche Uwadinachi, Brenda Nwafor, Gabriel Ogungbade–they engaged the audience with rhetoric, verse and rhythm on sex,love, and bad governance, expertly balancing the realities of people living in Nigeria with affective shocks of misgovernance as it trickles down to every aspect of the lived lives of the common man. The headline poets; Rez Afolabi and Uche Uwadinachi, were selected by Professor Wole Soyinka for the Providus Bank Poetry Cafe on the 2019 World Poetry Day.
Femi Morgan gave insights to The Year of Fire. He said ‘ I wrote the Year of Fire during the COVID lockdown, it was a phase of unnerving and dangerous lonelienss, but it was also a time of observation and reflection. The social, economic and security threats of the lockdown also reminded me of the year half of my Oshodi apartment got burnt in 2015–while I was reading Wole Soyinka’s You Must Set Forth at Dawn. The grave uncertainty made me ask questions about home and abroad, Africa, Lagos, God and people. It gave me a decent ‘residency’ to practice my craft’.
He also responded to the fact that a quarter of the poems in the second part of the book, Cosmopolitan angst is dedicated to Lagos; especially Oshodi.
There were with readings and engagements on ‘Rude City’, ‘Ubuntu’, ‘Temporary God’, ‘Women Landlords’, ‘Two Masks’, ‘Wall Geckos’ which explored matriachy and patriarchy, bad governance and tyranny, history, surburbian existence, violence, bigotry and doublespeak among others.
Enitan Sophie Oluwa prodded him on the next phase of his craft as a writer. Femi Morgan said ‘It is difficult being a writer and the founder of an enterprise, so I want to pass the operational batons to my team members while I write a book of love and erotica poems, dedicated to my beautiful wife, after which I will dedicate a couple of years to write a masterpiece, a book like Tade Ipadeola’s Sahara Testaments, Derek Walcot’s Omeros–although I may not be able to achieve the pastoral nuances of their works because I have lived in cities all my life, I believe that it is possible to do more than I have done so far. I look forward to a well endowed residency that will make me read, research, reflect, engage and write without thinking about breaking even on convulted Excel sheets’.
The event ended with book signings, renewed connections and camamadarie.