The ancient Greeks believed everything was made up of four elements: earth, fire, air and water. Though modern science has confirmed that matter is actually made up of varying combinations of over a hundred elements, this archaic perspective has inspired a lot of ideas over time. One of such was its application to psychology where each element represented a temperament. For example, air with its quality of freeness was attached to the sanguine temperament, and fire could be metaphorically compared to the fierceness of the choleric temperament. What fun coincidence it is then that the adjectival form of element “elemental” has a “mental” in it. This synchronicity forms the conceptual basis of this beautiful collection. Thus this anthology is divided into four sections, each dedicated to an element.
The pieces in the collection seek to unravel the mental landscape. Memories, feelings and emotions are laid bare and examined in prose, poetry and visual art. The artists-in-residence creatively explored the mind, guided thematically by the four elements. And it is enlightening to see all the different ways the contributors interpreted the elements. Viewing earth as a garden of bodies, Abubakar Sadiq examined loss and grief in his poem “The Seed”. On the other hand, Jeremiah wrote about a character who not as firm as earth always returned to a toxic love. Also, while Muiz Opeyemi Ajayi painted passion with his fire poem, Shedrack Opeyemi Akanbi revealed how water can be fire in his flash fiction, “It Begins With Fire”, and Eunice’s bold and colourful painting of candlelight depicted fire as serenity.
Moreover, there are experimentations with style. For example, Muiz Opeyemi leaves out punctuation in his earth poem, giving his piece a kind of rigidity and undividedness reflective of earth qualities. Furthermore, Roseline played with spacing in her poems. In “Stitches”, she used spacing in a way that made the lines of the poem look stitched together.
In conclusion, the pieces in this collection are emotive and are capable of evoking catharsis. Collectively, they reveal the mind in its complexity, touching its beautiful and ugly, and its sweet and sour.
Ishola Abdulwasiu Ayodele