Review: “ArMiNNa” By Decipher J. Liman

In a rather non-concrete longing for Arminna (A deliberate mispronunciation of the name “Amina” which her purposely imitates “in the accent of my friend, Hasson” to situate the location in the Northern part where the hausa lingo adulterates words like “za aza foems” = the other poems), Liman narrates in threads how the persona has been crushing on Arminna without the guts to step up to the claim at first.

Surrounding his spoken word poem with Tcheka’s “Strada Pico,” characterized by an andante tempo, Tcheka, the Cape Verdean singer and guitarist who transposes the traditional genre batuque to the electro-acoustic guitar, Joseph used this polyrhythmic 3-beat rhythm over a 2-beat rhythm to set the mood and balance the tone in Arminna.

Joseph reveals how it all began that “that boy with a quiet “eye” across the room/ that loner across the room” who “struggled to bloom in self-hood,” was bracing himself in “his fantasy of jumping the broom” with “Arminna”. But he was afraid all through, bearing “sweaty palms of a scared (not scary) groom” who was “too timid to say hi and too gentle to raise his eyes.” As such, all he had to say were “feelings refrained and words confined.” Arminna was his crush, but he couldn’t say a word to Arminna despite how “emotions rush…” So out of this poem is an easy escape for the persona to say how he’s always felt if it’s going to be any consolation for him.

He describes this tango again in multi-rhymes: “fair, care, love affair,” and further reveals the many places they’ve met but never conversed (that night at the balcony/ tour bus), but he’s still carried away, without uppity, he’d steal the opportunity to sniff her as “your hair he smells like cinnamon and burned beans.” But he still doesn’t do anything. It’s abandoned for too long that the “moment is gone stale.” Perhaps he felt it was over and wise to let it go until “his feelings like a magic bean all night grew again,” an exaggeration alluding to the movie “Jack the Giant Killer” where the magic bean became a full-blown tree of giants. And this time he tells ArMiNNa of how he feels about her. It continues in “sweet memories” which the poet claims he wrote with a “serpent smile.” And if Arminna cannot recall, he prods her on again: “do you remember? Do you remember?” Liman narrates that eventually “that boy with a fancy eye” was able to speak and express his feelings towards Arminna “in a shaky voice”. He told her how “with you i want be a father. And you a pretty mother…April, poetry, rain and sun…”

Decipher Joseph Liman ended the poem without letting the reader know how ArMinna responded to his theme of desire.  There was only love and silence, fear plus quiet. His constant use of the pronoun “He” and the article “That” boy…mad it appear misleading like he was not the primary subject of this love or lust longing until when he discloses “that boy with the quiet eye was me.”


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