How The End First Showed

(Wisconsin Poetry Series)

Crafting raw memories into restrained and compact verse, D. M. Aderibigbe traces the history of domestic and emotional abuse against women in his family. A witnessing son, grandson, nephew, and brother, he rejects the tradition of praise songs for the honored father, refusing to offer tribute to men who dishonor their wives.

Widening his gaze to capture the moral rhythms of life in Lagos, he embraces themes of love, spirituality, poverty, compassion, sickness, and death. Aderibigbe offers both an extended elegy for his mother and poems addressed to children of the African continent, poems that speak to the past that has made them.

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“In the urgent, abrupt, incantational poems of D. M. Aderibigbe, an essential gesture is simile: the explicit, striving word ‘like’ recurs often. And in every poem Aderibigbe thinks in metaphor. In a world of difference, amid unique strokes of memory and abandonment, violence and love, that action of likeness attains spiritual force.” 

“A debut that electrifies and ignites beacons of much-needed understanding through even the darkest of days. These memorable poems twist and tumble across entire countries while making maps of love and heartbreak. A brilliant beginning. Remember this name: Aderibigbe.” 

“How the End First Showed  by D.M. Aderibigbe is a powerful testament to the women in his family — especially his grandmother and mother — who were abused for years by the men they loved. Aderibigbe, who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, won the Brittingham Prize for this striking collection. The book quietly challenges his native country’s entrenched ideas about male supremacy and shows how the strength and resilience of women help repair what has been broken. As he examines a painful legacy and questions the present, he creates remarkably memorable poems and posits haunting questions.” 

“The poems in Nigerian poet D.M. Aderibigbe’s debut collection, “How The End First Showed,’’ out this month from University of Wisconsin Press, where it won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry, center around his mother, his grandmother. They are odes to these women and bottomless laments for the physical abuse they suffered. Aderibigbe, grew up in Lagos and got his MFA in poetry at Boston University, and this collection is a sinewy, frank, and luminous examination of violence and love, a reckoning with what was and what could be. “I’ll rewrite my childhood./ Amputating my father’s hands/ and legs with ink, like rebels/ chop innocuous civilians.” Poetry becomes a means of power, tribute, sense-making. There is brutality here, and pure beauty as well.”

“The poetry he (D.M. Aderibigbe) writes carries universal appeal…How the End First Showed is not merely a collection of Nigerian poems, it is an effort to forge transnational literature.”

Aderibigbe writes with a beautiful simile and chilling rhythm about the domestic violence he witnessed as a child.

“By speaking to the strength and willpower possessed by motherly figures like grandmother, mother, aunt and sister, he is giving a voice to the women who were silenced by abuse.” 

“Throughout this collection, Aderibigbe remakes family stories handed down through generations and across continents into poems with jagged edges that rip at his cultural and familial patrimony.”