The two texts selected are Djamila Ibrahim’s “Things are Good now” and Stevie Howell’s “I Left nothing inside on Purpose”. The second text is a collection of poems by Stevie Howell while the first text is a novel. Djamila Ibrahim’s text focuses on the central conflict because the novel is about innocent people who are subjected to years of war and turmoil. Stevie Howell uses an interesting language, which is not typical of poems using voice and tone. Consequently, it is necessary to determine whether the approach used by the authors aptly depict their intentions.
Djamila Ibrahim’s “Things are good now”
“Things are Good Now,” tells the story of siblings who are returning home from exile in Toronto, Canada. The moment they land home and start interacting with the locals, they are told of decades of brutalities under an oppressive regime. In the state that the returnees find their home country, it is possible for a character to proclaim, “Things are Good Now” given the relative political and social calmness (Colbert). Contrarily, the phrase “Things are good now” does not refer to Ethiopia or any other East Africa country from which people flee because of political strife. It refers to the new life that the refugees are living in their new country. The narrations in the novel cause difficulties because the returnees encounter misery disenchantment, and displacement in their home countries. They are left wondering whether they are better off in their host country or if they should return to their home country where they believe they will be comfortable. Consequently, the idea of home and belonging are not as clear-cut for the siblings returning to Ethiopia, Somalia, or Eritrea. Even though they feel that these countries are their home, they do not belong there because of the political conflicts.
Djamila Ibrahim’s novel provides an insightful exploration of the experiences of immigrants. The main issue for the immigrants includes memory of their home country, culture, and people, identity, human relations, and resilience. For most of the first and second-generation immigrant, the central conflict of home and belonging creates a situation where the characters are torn between staying in their host country and returning home. Most of the first and second-generation immigrants would prefer to return to their home country because of the experiences of racism and trauma (Kaye 1). However, they choose resilience because of the hostile nature of their home country. Consequently, it is easy for people who have never escaped a war-torn country to assume that moving to a peace-loving country like Canada marks an end to their problems. Moving from their war-torn home countries means that refugees are beginning new personal battles as they struggle with culture and identity issues. The people struggle with the problem of holding on to their homes in the war torn countries or belonging in peaceful countries. In one of the stories, Aisha a former soldier from Eritrea led troops in the battlefield. She expected that because of her loyalty to the warlords, she would get a favorable job. However, this was not the occurrence because she had to relocate to Canada. The only jobs that were present during the time was doing hospital laundry and cleaning toilets that were used by the public. Her situation is complicated because of her Ethiopian boyfriend. After the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia broke out, Aisha was faced with a predicament because she must decide whether her loyalty lies in her new country Canada, her home country Eritrea; or her boyfriend’s country Ethiopia (Kaye 1). For most of the migrants, they do not belong because they yearn for their home countries where they do not encounter the daily humiliations of being assaulted because of wearing a hijab.
Stevie Howell’s “I left nothing inside on purpose”
In Howell’s “I left Nothing on Purpose”, it is necessary to explore tone and voice. The book takes its title from a note the author saw on the widow of a Mercedes Benz. The note read, “do not smash glass, I left nothing inside on purpose” (Wiens 1). The objective of the owner when writing this note was to protect his vehicle. In the collection of poems, Howell uses the phrase to comment on a confessional lyric, which suggests the vulnerability of the speaker.
The lyrical stance used by the author is paradoxical and contradictory. For instance, in “Birding in Wolfville”, the author begins with a pastoral imagery (Wiens 1). In this instance, the author is less cynical than realistic. The author’s tone admits a fundamental alienation and attempt to bridge distances.
As evident in the poems, Howell insinuates that much as poetry is gradually becoming a superfluous art, it can divulge and create surprises in language. The poet’s reluctance to describe the words in signs is because Google and social media have killed poetic lyric (Wiens 1). Howell questions the role of lyrical poetry in a world where social media has made people confessional. Modern poetry in the face of Google and social media is overwhelmed by cliché and opinion.
Howell employs a distinctive style in writing. For instance, Howell writes “yr.” rather than “your” and “w” instead of “with.” This can be attributed to his perception that voice is breath. Thus, it is critical for the author to write in a similar manner to the way he sounds. Additionally, his poems are episodes of memory of dreams that did not come true. Howell blends his episodic memories with research, personae, and fiction (Abrahams 1). The intention is for the reader to float on what the poet feels is salient. Besides, the poet applies language in a kinetic approach meaning that he focuses on transferring energy that connects a reader and author.
Subsequently, the application of of abbreviations allows Howell to enhance the kinetic association and lessen the distance between the reader and author. Howell purposely collapsed word such a “your, you, year, and you’re” into their respective abbreviations. In this case, the absence of vowels in the collapsed words is an attempt by Howell to use language as an embodiment. The voice and tone used in the collection of the poems suggests that the author uses a humanistic approach and quality. The poems seem tender towards people. For instance, Howell engages with a real person, Clive Wearing, who is suffering from a traumatic brain injury. The author’s interest in Wearing’s injury led him to try to close the gap in syntax without impairing shared meaning.
Works Cited Abrahams, Terry. I Left Nothing Inside On Purpose, Stevie Howell. Read wildness. 2018, readwildness.com/reviews/i-left-nothing-inside-on-purpose. Accessed on 1st December 2018 Colbert, Jade. Review: Djamila Ibrahim’s Story Collection Things Are Good Now Explores Themes of Home and Belonging. The Globe and Mail. 2018, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/.../article-review-djamila-ibrahims-story-collection-... Accessed on 1st December 2018 Kaye, Marcia. Djamila Ibrahim’s Things Are Good Now Explores the Hidden Struggles for Migrants. The Star. 2018, https://www.thestar.com › Entertainment › Books › Review. Accessed December 1, 2018 Wiens, Jason. Review: I Left Nothing Inside On Purpose. Quills and Quire. 2018, https://quillandquire.com/review/i-left-nothing-inside-on-purpose/. Accessed December 1, 2018