Book Review: Songs of Paradise


This book was a Valentine’s Day gift (ha! look at me wanting. More rationally, I received it then. As a gift but with no strings in any way attached to the over-hyped day). We are about to venture into anthology waters.

Synopsis: The anthology is deeply religious as suggested by the title and thematically chronicled. I have nothing more to offer here, for Christ’s sake it’s an anthology!

My Thoughts: I fell in love with Justice Ogoola’s oratory skills(you know, via a rigged debate and one that was THE thing and for which Uganda trended on Twitter) which made me look him up and this book wasn’t far down on the Google results. No sooner had I put it on my wish list than a kind stranger I’ll forever be grateful to granted my request. No glass slippers involved. I have the e-book version so no pictures 😦

For a person who prefers spoken word to sermons, I pretty much enjoyed how the Justice beautifully tells stories from the Word, not in a religious way(I use religious in the way that I understand it here. Ask if you want to know) but as one who has studied and deeply understood that which he preaches. I don’t know if he was preaching though. See what he did with the Zacchaeus story there in the poem ‘The Sycamore Tree’:

5.   And so must we all — When we ascend our Sycamore Trees, we must humbly descend to the debris of our shattered lives, wherein lies Divine restoration. Like old zig zagging Zacch, we are all deficient of stature. Like the chastened Zacchaeus, we are all called to climb down our healing Sycamore Tree!

Ogoola, James (2013-12-22). Songs of Paradise (Kindle Locations 354-360). WordAlive and Worldreader. Kindle Edition.

I, of course, like the poems about love the most. Some stretch on too long, but for the most part, as is with most love poems, they simply have you dreaming. Oh must I add how graphic they can get! Excerpt from ‘The Language of Love’ which is by the way one of my favorites.

For, in nudity, we exhibit our maximum vulnerability; and in nudity, we speak the language of our utmost intimacy!

Ogoola, James (2013-12-22). Songs of Paradise (Kindle Locations 680-682). WordAlive and Worldreader. Kindle Edition.

I was very amused(in every other alternate meaning of the word) during Meet Lounge when a literary critic claimed the book to be everything short of captivating and particularly said the poems in the collection are ‘average and cannot stand on their own without the collection’. I know, my heart bled. Probably because I cannot bring myself to critic art. I find that, it should, in all its entirety be appreciated but hey, that’s me. I’ll just add that the poetry, to me, is written by a master of his craft and there is no such thing as a poem that cannot stand alone. If he was referring to the poems about Justice(by the way lawyers you might want to read those. The things I think you only read about the history of Uganda’s legal system, he’s a first hand witness who writes about them in righteous anger) I could let that pass. They tell a story. They shouldn’t have to stand on their own.

Meanwhile the titles of the poems about justice blew me away. Like ‘The Rape of The Temple’??? Dude, that’s genius! Yes, it is also clear the Justice has his intellect together.(I mean, by the time you are a Justice.) Take his poem contrasting ‘The Poets and the Philosophers’ for example. Yes, that is the title. So insightful, well thought out.

I’m not sure how to properly break it down for you but come on, I’ve tried yes? Because I feel like if I go on this will be very long but you can get the book here. And for the new month, I’ll leave you with these beautiful words from the poem ‘To Live and To Love’;

Absorb the ravishing splendour of the setting sun; and savour the silent beauty of the golden moon. Gaze in glory at the cosmic galaxy of the star-studded skyline.

Ogoola, James (2013-12-22). Songs of Paradise (Kindle Locations 1013-1016). WordAlive and Worldreader. Kindle Edition.



P.S: I’m so proud of myself for doing this, I almost chickened out.


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