How to wake a butterfly is Loic Ekinga’s debut book and follows the author’s metamorphosis as he navigates life from childhood through to adulthood.
Written during the lockdown, this poetry collection is deeply reflective and introspective – a story of becoming that explores loss, longing, family, masculinity, heartbreak and love among other themes. The book tells a beautiful tale of learning, unlearning and healing as the author evolves into himself.
Life starts off as a difficult pregnancy and traumatic birth
“It’s a boy/it’s a problem/it’s a screaming caterpillar/it won’t even look like its father”
The author lets us into boyhood memories most of which are tinged with pain and sadness. He writes of his mother that leaves and a father that feels unfamiliar, cries in prayer and wields silence.
“Silence my brother and I inhaled
The same silence that spread like
A virus under our skin
We grew into hollow men”
He also introduces us to a grandmother that he remembers fondly and she makes appearances in a couple of his pieces
The author reflects on his relationship with Christianity as a young boy and feeds its allegorical language into his poetry.
“It is said that God allowed Moses
To see His back on Mount Sinai
The boy knows now, like Moses
What it feels like to plead to a God
Who’s walking away”
He also explores consent in one of the pieces “Phone conversations with a hint of old denial”
“Yes, she was twenty-seven…
No… it wasn’t molestation
I’m clearly fine… denial?”
Heartbreak is part of the human experience and as such we have all experienced some form of it. Loic Ekinga gracefully allows us to witness his vulnerability through his pieces on heartbreak and in a way gives us words and permission to explore our own.
As you delve deeper into the pages you become more familiar with the author, you resonate with his emotions and when he writes of love you can literally visualize the caterpillar break out and spread its wings.
“This is the kind of passion
Nations go to war for…
This is the kind of love
That gets gods crucified”
All in all “How to wake a butterfly” is a relatable, bold, vulnerable and beautifully written book that was a delight for my poetry loving taste buds. The poems are written with so much grace and remind us that healing is a process, one we need to embark on with grace.
It is also an easy book to digest and I found myself reading it in a single seating. I would be lying if I had a single favorite piece because each poem tells a unique story of the authors becoming and yet somehow all link up to form this body of art.
As we come to the end of this review, the Question still stands
“How do you wake a butterfly?
If you can, I say
–Without bruising its wings–“
Loic Ekinga Kalonji is a Congolese poet, storyteller, and a screenwriting enthusiast. His work in poetry and fiction focuses on the human experience and memories. He published his debut book “how to wake a butterfly” on 26th May 2021.
Bellows of love
©Tales of a Curious mind