UCHE OGBUJI. Associate poetry editor, barefoot runner, resident genius.  Luthor-esque in his understanding of things like poetry in dead languages, metaphysics, and the trade-off between loss of control and extention of platform.


In his debut at TNB, BEFORE us naked he stood, the taste of his native tongue is puree of starched colonial education, wacky wanderings through America, Europe and Nigeria, and a heavy dose of hip hop sensibility.  Later he shared his misfit story in verse.


Pound for pound, he enjoys contemplating poems about economics and the death of Sylvia Plath — although poetry sometimes makes him nervous (though not as nervous as Elizabeth Alexander must have been at the Inauguration).


He has it in for a certain furry creature in his attic.


In a past life, he was Sappho of Lesbos.



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84 responses to “Featuring…Uche Ogbuji”

  1. Simon Smithson says:

    UCHE!

  2. Judy Prince says:

    Great graphic (and font, etc), Uche! Does Sappho know you’re spreading this rumor about her?

    Yours gratefully,

    one who had a nest of squirrels in her attic and got rid of them humanely.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Judy, Sappho was pissed off for a while, but then she came under attack from the spirit of one of the more strong-willed Pythian priestesses, and I had to go all seance-supreme like and defend her honor. And now we’re mates, I think (am I about to get blasted?).

      http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/sappho/2010/04/sappho-the-tnb-self-interview/#comment-64886

      And hey! I figure a .22 round is reasonably humane, considering it’s more than enough to dispatch a creature that size in a split second. 😉

      • dwoz says:

        I’ve always thought that the most humane way to prepare squirrels is a nice Bearnaise, or even perhaps a pate or fondu. Perhaps as the base of a minestrone.

        but I will never be inhumane and use ketchup. or Velveeta. One cannot compromise one’s core beliefs.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Whoa! Squirrel pate? Is that Betty Crocker?

        • dwoz says:

          Betty Crocker?

          My dear Uche…I thought you were my friend! You cut me to the quick.

          There is a recipe in “The Joy of Cooking” (Bombauer/Becker on Bobs-Merrill press), but it’s little more than a discussion about getting at the three thirty-seconds of a pound of meat once you have the little guy bagged.

        • dwoz says:

          But to answer the question…

          To make a squirrel pate:

          I’d start of course
          with Squirrel Grey.
          and just a sip
          to cleanse the palate
          of tastes astray.

          The beast would be smoked
          by the body
          of the maple tree
          intensify flavors
          of a life led innocently

          The meat will have too little fat
          so we’ll have to address that

          I’d find a root, a tuber
          of horseradish, fresh
          infuse it with oil, virginal
          and garlic, my love!
          you will never be
          unwelcome at my table!

          Rosemary, sea salt
          a tiny grain of nutmeg
          a tiny draught of MacCallan
          to keep the smoke company

          oh, mortar! oh, pestle!
          oh broken wrist and tired back!
          please take a seat, a sip of wine
          while Cuisinart proceeds to whine

          A hurricane, in miniature
          a 3000 rpm tempest in a teacup
          is that long enough?
          I believe it’s time to sup!

        • Judy Prince says:

          Excellent cuisinical choices, dwoz—-with fowl, fish, seafood or lamb, but not with squirrel or possum.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Mmmmm. Very enticing, dwoz. Only thing is that you brought me up a bit short with the “life led innocently.” Friging scribble ass squirrels are about as innocent as Caddyshack’s gopher.

        • dwoz says:

          hehehe

          I DO need an editor. Are you applying for the position? 🙂

      • Judy Prince says:

        Uche, your best moment as Sappho was when you said this about preferring females: “they just smell better, and they wiggle.”

        BTW, you can’t legally dispatch the little squirrel buggers in the USA.

        And then there’s dwoz who prefers them as edibles!

        Having got someone humane to dispatch a nest of squirrels in my attic, I found out that those noisy buggers were a mom and her brood of 4 (she, immediately after finding the attic place, barred her mate from entering it; he had to find a bachelor pad), and every day one of them was taken by the humane person from the wire cage atop the roof, enticed by peanut butter and peanuts and then driven to the woods a few miles away. Dunno if they reunited there or not.

        Here in the UK I’m told there are some red squirrels, but I’ve seen nary a one.

        • dwoz says:

          just for the record, I have never actually ever tasted a squirrel, though one did taste me.

        • Judy Prince says:

          You got bit by a squirrel, dwoz—HA! Were you pestering it?

        • dwoz says:

          what else? Of course I was. Earned myself a goddamn tetanus and rabies shot for that.

          Note to others: If you give a rodent creature no way out except through you, then they will take that and run with it. It’s nothing personal.

        • Judy Prince says:

          dwoz, you are soooo right about rodents (except for my dear Rodent, of course)! In Chicago, there was one—-just one—-in my basement. I heard loud noises and called the police. Six huge men, guns drawn, arrived at the house within minutes (plainclothes, so I didn’t know whether I was being home-invaded or police-protected). They checked everywhere in the house and exited saying, “Ma’am, there’s nobody here except you.” After which the squirrel and a couple of its squirrel buddies and I did battle for a week. One of them ended up peeking at me as it sat in the toilet bowl; I flushed it. I captured another one in the bedroom with a clothes basket and threw him out the window; he scrambled for footage and landed safely on the ground. The last squirrel was the cleverest, but with brilliant arranging of the furniture, I cornered him in the living room for a few days. My neighbour came over to get rid of him, but when the squirrel advanced, the neighbour leaped several feet in the air to avoid him. My son came home from uni at the weekend, took a look at the barraged and embattled livingroom and said, “Why don’t you just open the french doors?” which he did, and the squirrel was out those doors in a shot. The original prob? My livingroom chimney flu had been open for months, squirrels nesting in the chimney. I would totally be happy if no squirrels existed. Totally.

        • dwoz says:

          about the only thing I can figure out for squirrels, in the grand scheme, is that they prevent the oak population from getting completely out of control. And prevent rabies from becoming extinct.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Judy! You’re talking about humanity towards squirrels, and you flushed one down a toilet? Besides the squirrel’s fate, I’m amazed you didn’t end up with awful plumbing problems.

        • dwoz says:

          That’s TRUE Uche…

          I can just hear the plumber now:

          “…lady, I just got yer toilet unclogged. I think you mebby need to go talk to someone about yer DIET…”

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

          At least from your culinary description, squirrels must be slimming.

        • Judy Prince says:

          You’ve correctly figured out, Uche, that I’m of two distinctly opposite minds about squirrels. I couldn’t bear having them snuffed even though they drove me nuts, so to speak, when they were in the attic; hence, I searched for a humane squirrel-getting business. I watched the guy coming down the ladder 5 separate times with each squirrel—-they were so cute!—-and he assured me they’d not be harmed, but would be released into a woods at some distance from the house.

          I kinda like them when they’re cute and NOT in my house. But if they’re in my toilet, it’s sooo curtains for them. I did wonder, afterwards, why my toilet didn’t back up.

          dwoz, good one about the plumber’s response. HAAA!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Did someone mention squirrels??

        • Judy Prince says:

          Oh dear, now Zara—that sweet thing—will think I’ve committed squirrelicide—-which I did!!! I’m a squirrel-flusher!!! Oh dear!

  3. Zara Potts says:

    Uche!!!!
    I love this.. I love your work!
    (And can I just say how much I also love that my photos are being utilised so well here!! First, Lenore -then Uche!)

  4. Becky Palapala says:

    HEY! How come you get to be the resident genius?

    And I am Luthor. I’ve declared it a number of times. You’re a goody two-shoes! You can be a genius if you must, but not an evil one. That had better just be a bald joke.

    Who wrote this? Brad? BRAD????

    *slam door*

    ( 😉 )

    • Greg Olear says:

      I didn’t mean it as a bald joke, although I see that it applies — Luthor was the maddest genius I could come up with before the coffee kicked in.

      You can be Miss Tessmacher, Becky.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Becky, I’ve outgrown a lot of my evil genius. You can still catch flashes of my temper, but I’m much less of a flame-thrower/flame-seeker than I used to be (some of the legendary flame wars on Usenet and Prodigy poetry groups, and other sundry groups left my hair cauterized, never again to grow).

      Anyway, just to demonstrate my goody-two-shoes bona fides, I’ll say that if I’m a genius, it’s only thanks to company. In the past couple of years I’ve found that TNB greases my mental gearbox better than teutonic engineering.

  5. Irene Zion says:

    Uche is the best!
    He’s the go-to guy on all questions for geniuses, and on top of that, he’s really nice.

    Whoever is taking these pictures is doing a great job!
    Lenore’s was fabulous and so is Uche’s!

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Thanks, Irene. As for the pictures. Well, I suppose considering the post here, I’d better make it do what it to.

      To the tune of “Cherry,” by Amy Winehouse (yeah second half of my morning dose-of-soul song)

      Her name is Zara.
      We’ve just met,
      but already she knows us better than you.
      She understands us, after all these years,
      And she travels all around to meet the crew.
      Maybe you could shoot those stills
      If you was made of lens and film.
      Her eye embraces ups and downs
      Her photos light life in their bounds
      Just when I seek to make amends
      So I got me a new best friend
      With a pick-up that puts you to shame,
      and Zara is her name.
      And when we’re lone-ly
      Zara’s there
      and she plays along while we sing out our blues
      I could be crying,
      and you don’t care
      You won’t make us smile, you’re stubborn as a mule.
      Maybe you could shoot those stills
      If you was made of lens and film.
      You might think I’ve
      gone too far
      I’m talking ’bout
      Our photo star.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weSWHT93sLo

      • Irene Zion says:

        Uche, my chicken-heart,

        You can imagine my dismay when I clicked on the link and found that Amy Winehouse was singing and not you!
        I had so hoped to hear this sung by you and see you perform, in fact, I expected it!
        How you have let me down, Uche, how you have let me down.

        (Zara takes fabulous pictures. I believe you, Greg is always making up stories. Everyone knows it.
        He even has stories published!)

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          I just wanted people to know the tune. No way I could have put together a vid of the Zara version that quickly. If anyone knows where I can find an instrumental version of “Cherry” I’m happy to give it a try. I guess I could do it a capella, accompanying myself on chair-back, as I did with “Palin Pumps,” but you guys have already seen me in all my naked affright once, I’m sure no one wants more of that.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Yes! Yes!
          I want to see you singing it a capella, accompanying yourself on chair-back, whatever that is!

          I feel cheated, because I don’t know you made videos.
          Please put the link to the other one here?

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          My “Palin Pumps” rendition is audio, not video. To listen go to the piece:

          http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/uogbuji/2008/11/beyond-the-palin/

          And look in the upper left. You should see a little audio player widget saying “Palin Pumps [1:10m]” Click the play button.

          And now I’m off to pre-emptively cringe.

        • Zara Potts says:

          OH MY GOD!! A song for me??????
          You have just made my day, Uche.. No, make that my year.
          I am so very happy!!! Thank you!

        • Irene Zion says:

          Okay,
          Uche, my dove, that was great.
          BUT, I did not SEE you or your so-called “chair-back.”
          I NEED to see you singing the Zara song, with the so-called “chair-back,” of course.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I need to see it too….

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Oof. You guys are a bad influence. I’ll see what I can do.

          I don’t suppose I can get away with explaining that chair-back is just when I sit on a wooden chain backwards and beat a simple rhythm on the back of said chair with my fingers, as you can hear in “Palin Pumps”?

        • Zara Potts says:

          The ‘Zara Song’ is Awesome. With a capital O.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Brad hired a professional photographer to travel around the country and take as many great pictures of TNBers as logistically possible in three weeks. Sort of. Almost. Not really.

  6. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Oh! Ummmm. Ah. Good morning…Wow!

  7. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    Uche, you rock the most epic introduction yet! Cheers.

  8. Erika Rae says:

    I’m proud to be your twin.

  9. Richard Cox says:

    Hello, Mr. Ogbuji! Congratulations on your cover style status. Soak up the glory. Bathe in it.

  10. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    Uche, I am an ass! Here I am, indulging in a little [self-loathing comment redacted] writing and I failed to comment on your celebrity. And squirrel-plugging. A .22, eh? I’ve got some subsonics and was contemplating putting in a paperwork for a can. Let me know if, uh, you want to get together. For, uh, “coffee” or something….

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Andrew, now that I’ve seen what you were up to, even if I had some diva list of people who had not come to salute me while I was bathing in Calgon provided by Coxy, I would have to have given you a pass.

      The subsonic so the little fucker doesn’t know we’re on to him, eh? Sounds like a plan 😉 I haven’t been on a range in at least 8 years or so, but “coffee” certainly doesn’t sound uninteresting.

      • Andrew Nonadetti says:

        More for the neighbors than the squirrel. His first clue that we’re onto him should be his suddenly being surrounded by his ancestors ;). We shall have to discuss off-line….

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