Warner’s Ice Cream and Politics, bittersweet peek at life’s intricacies

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Author: Christi N. Warner
Title: Ice Cream and Politics
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2016)
ISBN: 978-1537557380

Between the Lines with Beniah Munengwa

When I first came across this book, I wondered: what has ice cream to do with politics? For a moment, I wondered if this was a chilling reference to political developments in Zimbabwe, where ice cream seems to have become not just ice cream in the corridors of power.

Ice Cream and Politics is a compilation of entangled feelings ßyearning for disentanglement. Christi Warner’s voice is of one seeking a deeper self and an understanding of complex human relations through childhood and feminine voices on interpretations of romantic, parent-child, engagements as well as growing up at a disadvantage.

Some of the poet’s mastery is captured in Feelings: “I sense a dark mood threatening to destroy any sign of bliss/There’s something real urging my feelings to find a voice/But if I follow the brave road to verbalisation/I could get lost and burn my tongue red and dry/I might make you run like a headless chicken, scared/Might make you brawl like the king of the jungle, mad/Maybe direct your feelings close to a scene at a coffin, sad.”

There is a thread of melody that runs through the striking poem, Poverty, where Warner describes poverty as “A contagious germ that causes division/The hatchery of egoism/The instigator of jealousy/The pillager of pride/Ever-so-often/the base-line of the pessimist’s song.”

The anthology captures tales of growth, concepts of life and their ironies, hymns of disappointment, voices of anticipation not just from an adult perspective, but also from young and growing voices. That is the beauty of Warner’s poetry.

Love is portrayed as a vague game that one rarely wins, but most suffer from although it is one of the human being’s primary needs.

Men and women are presented as equal contributors to the emotional violence that is perpetrated in romantic involvements.

The same applies to parenthood as shown in The Pink Envelope and in Hide and Seek, where both mothers and fathers are equally susceptible to bad as well as good deeds, as the unpredictable pendulum of emotions swings to the left and to the right.

The Ways of The Desert is an intense poem about the rollercoaster emotions of love. It reads for the world how people who start off in love, but end up as bitter rivals playing mind games with a sour outcome.

At times the poet delves too deep into life, leaving me as a reader trembling, suffering from the disease of hiding from an exposed relatable truth. This happened when I was reading the piece Hopscotch. The description of a boy abandoned by his mother at a church orphanage and then left by a lover sent chills down my spine.

She delves into issues that rip through life, showing how it feels like to be vulnerable. In Roses or Gold, Warner captures how selfish African politicians ride roughshod over ordinary people as they pursue profit. She writes, “You rushed a colossal decision for this land Played judge and jury for my future.”

I cannot say the anthology is loud and screaming, or that it is silent and subtle. But it is a mixture of both, providing a bittersweet sensation, as it helps one understand life in a better way and to see on how one will change it, if one can ever do.
It then turns to serious issues in the section titled Social. Warner tackles the common illness that characterises Southern African politics. In Untitled You, she writes, “liberators simply because they did not participate in forms deemed as ‘liberatory’.”

The title hints on the interplay of acceptable commodities in an American society. “Ice cream was a fitting symbol of democracy: a treat that all classes could share together,” writer and editor, James Martin Moran, noted in an interview. This explains why ice cream features at most political campaigns in America as also witnessed by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement as well as in presidential campaigns.

Ice Cream and Politics is divided into three sections, the Personal, the Emotional and the Social, all of which are not divorced from each other and the intricacies of life.

The poet acknowledges several people who have made immense contributions to the story of the African person. These include Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, Tsitsi Dangarembgwa and Winnie Mandela in the poem Becoming Human.

Ice Cream and Politics is a combination of well-woven words and intricate circumstances that will help one understand life better or look at matters differently.

Warner is a Namibian-born poet, singer, songwriter and theatre for development practitioner who lives in Oxford.

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