Reviewer: Karen Middleton
Dead Cats Don’t Meow, Tolu Akinyemi, T&B Global Concepts UK, 2019, pp. 128
When considering, which book to read, a book with an eye-catching title that screams out at you, that catches and keeps the public’s attention is important, so, this book, which will rekindle your literacy vision by Tolu’ A. Akinyemi is an obvious choice. The author is a well-known spoken word performer, business consultant, and has been given the backing of the arts council of England; he is also mentor to countless people. So, he has shown he can walk the walk, and is certainly entitled to talk the talk. A book launch for Dead Cats Don’t Meow was held at the Lit and Phil in Newcastle on May 2nd 2019 and was well attended.
This is the first poetry book I have reviewed and as the book urges us to have a make the best of the cards we are dealt attitude, this made me want to carry on reading this positive thinking poetry book, and I am glad I did as I am sure any like-minded individuals will as well.
I loved this book, loved everything about it, the constant and never-ending positive messages which are implemented through and through, urging us to strive for the best in any given situation and not waste the one precious life we have. Whenever Tolu’ has written poems about his homeland Nigeria, family life, or happenings in Newcastle, where he now lives, the message reigns through time after time, that life is a gift and every day is your chance to shine, as it’s so easy to think we deserve what we are served.
I found the poems covered a broad poetic spectrum, hitting on everyday events, and world issues. Dead Cats Don’t Meow, is a real page turner, the poems are relatable, adaptable, and appropriate to a wide audience. You will find poems about depression, brexit, race, survival and everyday musings from our younger generation, but all laced with the same ‘hit the ground running’ approach to life. This book will inspire you, enthral you and transform your thinking, and invoke a positive mindset.
We only have one life, unlike a cat, so we should not waste it, a message that shines through the entire book, but one poem in particular is paramount to the theme of being your best, of prioritising not procrastinating. When reading the line in the poem Life is a Teacher, ‘Whatever life serves you don’t accept it like a defeated battalion’, confirms this theory. However, carpe diem (seize the day), comes to mind.
In conjunction to Dead Cats Don’t Meow, Tolu’ has written Dead Lions Don’t Roar, and Dead Dogs Don’t Bark. and after reading Dead Cats Don’t Meow, I will certainly read his other books. An example of the positivity baked into this book is shown in the poems Spoken Word, Hands of Time, Today, Yesterday and Once Upon a Time 2. The message to stop, and smell the coffee comes over loud and clear, to put things in perspective, to watch our language and to know what is really important to us. When it’s so easy to be wrapped up with the technicalities of life, to realize what is important and evaluate and gives us the ability to look at situations differently.
Tolu’ has created a vision, like a mobile library of positivity through his poems, which will give you the motivation when sometimes, there may be a dropped stitch in life’s tapestry and your focus seems unclear, uncertain and unclarified. The ability of writing a poem, for example, where he writes about meeting a stranger in South Shields, to keeping to the upbeat theme but, at the same time maintaining the ability to write more serious poems about the fight of race and acceptance, is a true gift.
Selecting this writing material will have you putting things into perspective, and putting your best paw forward, showing when odds are stacked against us how we overcome any obstacles in our way, and our actions will determine our true destiny. I think Tolu’s poetry has bridged the age gap on the outlook that poetry, is for the more mature people as my teenage son has read some of the poems.
Children are notorious for asking never-ending questions, which shows a child’s never-ending built in tenacity, they never give up until they have tried their get what they want attitude, this is demonstrated by the poem, Children of Nowadays, ‘Can I have sweets?’ ‘No’ ‘Can I have sweets?’ ‘No’ ‘Can I have some sweets?’ ‘Oh, go on then.’
As children themselves, a true gift are always inquisitive, always curious always have an overactive imagination too. Can you imagine where they could go to, if they read this positive book with positive messages in too? Examining this poem, then turning to Black and Exceptional and King, showing examples of striving to be our best, and persevering dealing with problems of race and being proud of your roots. In life we deal with different stereotypes and this poem draws strength from that fact focusing on the acceptance of integration and being your greatest. I think the message in this poem is restated in the line from Glass House ‘It’s all right to swim against the tide’ sometimes you think you are sinking, but you always have the option not to sink.
I interpreted the line In Every Day is a School Day 2, to mean in this playground of life, in a world where there are many people complaining about their lot, if they knew today was their last day on earth, they might have some regrets, lost opportunities and missed chances. So,’ they should always be decked in a beautiful uniform’ and take in the booktiful sights, they took for granted before, such as a loved one’s smile, a bird song, the sound of children’s laughter. A positive mindset is the most important gift you can give to a child. But sometimes they are negatively conditioned by society, this poem encouraging us to have a childlike enthusiasm and look at things on their level.
Examining the work of August, The Fourteenth which is obviously his wife’s birthday (So he has no excuses for forgetting.) Deadbeat Father and Happy Wife Happy Life bringing the fact that Tolu’ is very family orientated in his work.
In Rich in Cash Poor in People, the first line especially, shows how sometimes we can be so impatient, we want things yesterday, now, this instance straight away. We are in such a rush to receive, talk about or waste time on unimportant things, when, if we really want to see what is important, we just need to look around. This message is repeated in the writing of South Shields a poem which leaves you wanting to know the back story, as does the Blue in Geordie Land.
This reading Matter will help young and old, choose and stay on the right track. The best present you can give someone is confidence as sometimes we are notoriously good at listening to our bad inner voices. As life happens, we sometimes accept the love we think we deserve, Tolu’s writings all have the same message, and whatever you are be a good one.
Although this book has the ability to inspire you, enthral you, to show your unique true colours and be the best cream of the crop, version of you. However, it is up to you, how you turn this knowledge into action, you write the story; you hold the pen, it’s up to you, we don’t have nine lives, only one, whichever book you choose, you can be assured it will be raining lions, cats and dogs.
I will end with this quote from Will Smith that sums up the whole moral in the book
Never lie, steal or cheat, but if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love, if you must steal, steal away from bad company, if you must cheat, cheat death, and if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.