New Telegraph

Exploration Of Laughter, Longing Through Literary Devices, Litotes

Book title: Sonnets for Motherhood
Author: Kaltume Akubo
Year published: 2023
Number of pages: 63

Reviewer: Nneoma Otuegbe

Dr Kaltume Akubo’s ‘Sonnets for Motherhood’ is a poetic gem that delves into the profound experiences of motherhood, where laughter and longing dance hand in hand.

Through the use of literary devices, and particularly through the clever employment of litotes, Akubo manages to
craft a collection that beautifully encapsulates the complex, multifaceted nature of motherhood.

Akubo demonstrates a profound mastery of literary devices in ‘Sonnets for Motherhood’. Her use of metaphors, similes, and personification artfully brings the themes of laughter and longing to life. These devices serve as the palette from which she paints her vivid, emotionally charged pictures.

Metaphors and similes feature prominently in her work. The metaphors she employs are often subtle and poignant, serving to draw the reader’s attention to the subtleties of motherhood.

For instance, she might describe a mother’s laughter as “a fragile bird,” highlighting the delicate balance between joy and vulnerability. Similes, on the other hand, provide vivid comparisons that evoke a strong emotional response, such as likening a mother’s longing to “the moon, always present but forever distant.”

Personification breathes life into her poetry. She imbues abstract concepts and emotions with human qualities, giving laughter and longing a tangible presence. For instance, she might describe longing as “a persistent companion” that “whispers in the still of the night.” This gives longing a voice and an agency, making it relatable and empathetic.

Litotes, a figure of speech that uses understatement to emphasize a point, is a central tool in Akubo’s poetic arsenal. She employs litotes to evoke the themes of laughter and longing. Through understatement, she makes these emotions all the more poignant.

For laughter, Akubo might write, “Her laughter is not unpleasant.” This seemingly modest statement serves to underscore the idea that the laughter is not just pleasant, but exquisite and joyous. This use of litotes allows the reader to grasp the profound depth of maternal laughter without overtly stating it.

When addressing longing, Akubo might say, “Her longing is not unfelt.” In this case, the
understatement emphasizes the intensity of the emotion. It suggests that the longing is keenly and deeply felt, resonating with readers on a profound level.

Throughout “Sonnets for Motherhood,” laughter and longing are recurrent motifs that anchor the collection. These emotions are presented not as isolated experiences but as integral threads in the fabric of motherhood. The laughter is not just joy; it is the elixir of a mother’s life, the sustenance that keeps her going. The longing is not mere nostalgia; it is the quiet melody of her heart, a constant companion that lends depth and meaning to her journey.

In conclusion, Dr. Akubo’s ‘Sonnets for Motherhood’ is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the profound nuances of human emotion. Through the deft use of literary devices, particularly litotes, she magnifies the themes of laughter and longing, revealing them as the heartbeats of motherhood. This collection invites readers to embark on a poignant, introspective journey through the beautifully expressed emotions of motherhood, all while demonstrating Akubo’s remarkable skill as a poet.

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