‘Once upon a time in one’s land not far not near
Pigs ruled men and ate their carcass for lunch
Men became pigs and ate themselves for dinner
And then pain designed poetry into gelatin brains
To conjure feelings in the stitched spines of papers’
The quotation above is from Jumoke Verissimo’s poem, ‘The Birth of Poets’, which appears in the collection The Birth of Illusion. The quoted lines set up what the collection concerns itself with. It paints the idea that the world is full of absurdity. And, that is why there is poetry and poets. Poetry is for the people and the poet is one of the people. She, the poet, should speak to power. She should unsettle. She should interrogate the establishment. She should be an enquirer of the human soul. More…
‘This is for broken men who cross often,
fallen soldiers born on the narrow path,
with fire in their bellies now clients of the broad way
who don drooping shoulders and scatter
their treasures on the streets of good intentions’.
The spoken word poet, Efe Paul Azino, recently published his debut collection of poems. He also tucked an audio recording of eight of the poems into a pocket on the book’s inner back cover. For Broken Men Who Cross Often is a bold attempt to straddle two dizzying spheres of poetic expression in one squat. Expectedly, one or two tendons groan and tear. More…
By Dami Ajayi
Madman at Kilifi, Clifton Gachagua’s first collection of poems, won the inaugural Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets in 2013, in manuscript form. This was quickly followed by its publication as the first book of the African Poetry Book Series by the Senegal-based Amalion Publishing.
Before this laudable initiative launched by the African Poetry Book Fund, African poets were at the mercy of the traditional publishing process. This largely meant that putting out a book-length collection of poems was as easy as a camel’s passage through the eye of a needle. More…
Fatiha Morchid’s Let’s rain is a volume of meditative and aphoristic poems about ecstasy, longing, love and pain. Morchid is a poet, writer, and a paediatrician. She is the winner of the 2010 Moroccan Poetry Prize. The poems in Let’s rain were originally written in Arabic and have been translated into English by Norddine Zouitni. From the first poem, ‘Let’s rain’, to the last poem, ‘Things of essence’, the feeling is one of free-flow. With simplicity and directness, the poet ensures that the actuality of poetry is not lost in a mass of intellectual abstractions. The poems speak to the reader in a voice that is soft, elastic, and rubbery – an intoxication one struggles to break away from.
By Tomiwa Ilori
Pain sells. It is from it that the most beautiful expressions are fashioned to last in time and memory. There has been an attempt to explore the poetics of pain, anguish and feeling in a world where the economy is deception and its currency is ‘fakeness’. That attempt is Harriet Anena’s A Nation in Labour. A Nation in Labour is a four-part treatise that uses elevated language to tell of horror. Anena’s collection of poetry warns society about its warped value system through a disciplined use of satiric responses that resonate. Each part of the treatise soaks our dessicated humanity in fluid cadences. More…
Homegrown is a delicate intertwining of personal memory and national history. Memory has always been regarded a high art, even a sacred one, closely akin to the arts of divination and inspiration. In Homegrown, the emotions of daily life litter the pages with acute specificity. Coates uses narrative and everyday conversational language to weave personal experiences and memory as a way of investigating universal themes. The straightforward verse style and colloquial tone and simplicity radiates nostalgia so pervasive, yet so entrancing, in its effort to hold your hand and walk you through all the spaces the poet has passed through. Indeed, the poet sings, ‘I love to go a-wandering – in the dusty town of Africa’. More…