If it wasn’t obvious enough that the leading poetic voices on the continent now belong to a new generation of writers bred in the jungles of the internet and raised in the angst of 21st-century dilemmas and preoccupations, the new NLNG prize shortlist has made it clearer.
Martin Heidegger in The Origin of the Work of Art describes language as “home of being.” He also describes poetry as a form with powers to disclose “being.”
Tenderness teaches us that if we consider softness with enough rigor, if we consider ourselves with enough softness, a wound is a portal, not an end.
I come from the country / Of the Happiest People on earth, / Where death sells at ten for one kobo / And the Living envy the peace
I still remember my ball boy training you have to squat with your left leg simultaneously kneel with your right leg perpendicular to your left so even if you miss the catch the ball is halted by your legs at a 90-degree angle I often missed the catch even before my strokes
In the traditions that established earlier voices in modern Africa poetry, sociopolitical maladies have remained an arch theme. In the words of Omafune Onoge, what rocks African poetry most is the crisis of consciousness.
an email from a friend in Gdansk
“We have a lot of insecurity in Nigeria. By road we are not safe. By train we are not safe”. (From a survivor of the Abuja-Kaduna Train bomb; Mon., March 28, 2022)
Ernest O. Ògunyemi is a staff writer at Open Country Mag. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Joyland, Tinderbox, Sierra Nevada Review, Journal Nine, The Indianapolis Review, Down River Road, Capsule Stories, No Tokens, The West Review, The Dark Magazine, Mud Season Review, Agbowó, Isele, and in the anthology 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry III. He is the curator of The Fire That Is Dreamed of: The Young African Poets.
When the thousands of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated, they were thought to be business records, but what if they were poems or psalms?
The language of the Qur’an is the language of poetry and so I found that meaning was the eye into translation and not the other way round. That’s when I began to take the exegeses and history classes more seriously. Without them, I found translation useless to my spirituality.