Uchechukwu Umezurike is a PhD Candidate and Vanier Scholar in the English and Film Studies department of the University of Alberta, Canada. An Alumnus of the International Writing Program (USA), he has participated in residencies in India, Switzerland, and Italy. His poem “there’s more” won the 2019 National Norma Epstein Foundation Award for Creative Writing. He was one of the winners of the the Commonwealth Short Story Competition in 2006 and 2008. His children’s books Sam and the Wallet and The Runaway Hero have been shortlisted and longlisted for the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2007 and 2011 respectively. His creative writing has appeared in the following publications: The Lamp, Evergreen Review, Onomonresoa, On Broken Wings, Long Story Short, Dream Chasers, Migrations, Lagos of the Poets, Washington Square Review, African Roar, Daughters of Eve and Other Stories. His critical writing has appeared in Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, Postcolonial Text, Journal of African Cultural Studies, Cultural Studies, Journal of African Literature Association, and African Literature Today.
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Wreaths for a Wayfarer: An Anthology in Honour of Pius Adesanmi
Pius Adesanmi died in the doomed Ethiopian Airline flight 302 on March 10, 2019. Wreaths for a Wayfarer: An Anthology in Honour of Pius Adesanmi is an assemblage of 267 original poems written by 127 established and emerging African writers. While some of the poets celebrate Adesanmi, others reflect philosophically on existence, mortality, immortality and/or offer hope for the living. In this memorably textured collection, the poets – some who knew, and some who did not know Adesanmi – exorcise the pains of loss through provocative poems that pour out their beating hearts with passion.
Chris Dunton, editor of Wasafiri, writes:
“… Adesanmi’s passing has been commemorated in a superb anthology of commissioned poems, Wreaths for a Wayfarer. This beautifully produced volume contains the work of 126 contributors, mainly from Nigeria, but also from other countries, ranging from Mexico, through the UK, to Sri Lanka; as Odia Ofeimun puts it in his foreword: ‘Pius Adesanmi was ‘my personal person’, as he was to so many people around the globe’ (xxv). It also includes a selection of poems from Adesanmi’s own collection The Wayfarer.
“Nduka Otiono’s Introduction to the anthology is a model of its kind, eloquent, heartfelt and informative, with a great deal of valuable background material in footnotes. An especially pleasing touch, so much in the spirit of Adesanmi the dedicated mentor, is the editors’ decision to take on ‘budding poets . . . [a decision which] necessitated editing and working with such authors to help develop writings that might otherwise have been rejected’ (7). A little later, Nduka comments: ‘we conceptualized an anthology that will be enduring in its thematic range and stylistic variety. And we got one’ (8). …”
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements |Foreword—Odia Ofeimun | Introduction: Death and an African Digital Towncrier—Nduka Otiono | Introit: Coffin in the sky—Niyi Osundare
Part I. WAYFARER
Scabha or The Sliding Door Operator—Sihle Ntuli | When an Iroko Falls—Iquo Diana Abasi | How to Survive War in Nigeria—Iquo Diana Abasi | I Wet the Earth, I Sing You Wreaths… —Fareed Agyakwah | Harvest IV—Funmi Aluko | Wayfarer—Funmi Aluko | The Wayfarer—Saudat Salawudeen | End of Forever—Saudat Salawudeen | Muse of Homecoming—Justus K. S. Makokha | Encore— Agatha Agema | Now that I know young birds die in flight—Segun Michael Olabode | The Water-Pot is Broke—Susan Bukky Badeji | from absence, memory and farther—Obemata | Umbilicals—Tijah Bolton-Akpan | The Pilgrim Unbound—Clara Ijeoma Osuji | Eclipsed at Noon—Abdulaziz Abdulaziz | To the Daughters— Abdulaziz Abdulaziz | The Traveler—Abiodun Bello | For the Wayfarer—Chifwanti Zulu | The Acts of Brother—’Bunmi Ogungbe | Backing His Daughter: For Pius, on Facebook—Jane Bryce | Avoiding Sunlight—Unoma Azuah | Akáṣọléri ́ (Mourners) —Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún | Last Tweets—Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún | Farewell, Wayfarer—Oyinkansade Fabikun | Solitaire—Kafilat Oloyede | How to Keep the Wake for a Shooting Star—Chuma Nwokolo | Eagle—Uzo Odonwodo | In Memoriam—Uzo Odonwodo | Can You Do This Thing?—Sarah Katz-Lavigne | Lights—John Chizoba Vincent | The Meteorite—Omowumi Olabode Steven Ekundayo | Black Box—Ian Keteku | Paramour of the Pen—Abraham Tor | Flying Coffin—James Onyebụchi Nnaji | Looking for the Dead—James Onyebụchi Nnaji | The Eagle Perched—Moses Ogunleye | A Pius Flight—Kennedy Emetulu | Kwanza for Pius—Ifesinachi Nwadike | Dream-mare—Nidhal Chami | A Walk in the Graveyard—Chimeziri C. Ogbedeto | Payo—Biko Agozino | Iku—Peter Olamakinde Olapegba | He left—Amatoritsero Ede | Spousal Loss—Peter Olamakinde Olapegba | The Face of My Savior is the Ordinary Moment—Gloria Nwizu | Denouement—Gloria Nwizu | A Conversation between Two Young Cousins—Ethel Ngozi Okeke | Sunday Flight—Emman Usman Shehu | Departure—Ivor Agyeman-Duah | The Count—Uthpala Dishani Senaratne | Rude Shock—Olajide Salawu | Saturday 12:56—Ludwidzi M. K. Mainza | Daughter—Ludwidzi M. K. Mainza | Tough Love—Nnorom Azuonye | In the Midst of it All, I am…—Anushya Ramakrishna | Haiku – Ai-Ku (Immortality) —Adesanya Adewale Adeshina | He Rose—Adesanya Adewale Adeshina | A Singing Bird—Adesanya Adewale Adeshina | Arrivant—Akua Lezli Hope | EarthWork Sestina—Akua Lezli Hope | Animalia, Chordata, Mammalia, Proboscidea—Akua Lezli Hope | Poem of Relief: When Your Sadness is Alive—Kennedy Hussein Aliu | If I Seek—Kennedy Hussein Aliu | When You Ask me About my Teacher—Kennedy Hussein Aliu and Leyda Jocelyn Estrada Arellano | The Eagle is not the Quills and Talons—Olumide Olaniyan | without a farewell—Nduka Otiono | After the Funeral—Nduka Otiono | Fugitives from the Violence of Truth—Efe Paul-Azino | Just but a Journey—Sam Dennis Otieno
Part II. REQUIEMS
Elegy for Pius—Helon Habila | This Exodus Has Birthed a Song—Echezonachukwu Nduka | where to find you: a requiem—Echezonachukwu Nduka | Blown—Richard Inya | words melt in his mouth—Peter Midgley | Requiem for the Fallen / Mogaka o ole—Lebogang Disele | To Our Hero: Rest in Peace—Lebogang Disele | What Shall We Do to Death?—Winlade Israel | A Star Just Fell—Winlade Israel | Requiem—Peter Akinlabi | Requiem for Pius—Rasaq Malik Gbolahan | Wayfarer—Rasaq Malik Gbolahan | Twirling the Beads of Grief… —Tade Aina | Say me Rebellion—Kingsley L. Madueke | When this Calabash Breaks—Kingsley L. Madueke | Requiem for the Wayfarer—Adesina Ajala | Song of Sorrow—Soji Cole | Planting Season—Anote Ajeluorou | For Our Departed Bard—Maria Ajima | Memory of Tear—Joshua Agbo | Why? —Margaret Wairimu Waweru | Letter to Dad—Margaret Wairimu Waweru | Missing Voices—Ugochukwu P. Nwafor | Tears on Canvas—Wesley Macheso | Nausea—Wesley Macheso | This Easter—Wesley Macheso | When I Am Gone—Maryam Ali Ali | Nothing Has Changed—Maryam Ali Ali | Protest—Ejiofor Ugwu | Our Voice is Gone—Janet James Ibukun | Agadaga Iroko / Giant Iroko—Sunny Iyke U. Okeigwe | This Poetry—James Tar Tsaaior | The Passing of Pius—Uzor Maxim Uzoatu | Light Dims to Shine Forever—Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo | You Bled Africa! —Mitterand Okorie | To the Muse of Isanlu: A Salute—’BioDun J. Ogundayo | you remain with us—Nkateko Masinga | A Bit of Narcissism—Okwudili Nebeolisa | Bereavement—Okwudili Nebeolisa | Dirge for the Departed—Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa | If Only—Femi Abidogun | Falling Birds—Yusuff Abdulbasit | Immortality—Yusuff Abdulbasit | Harvest of Deaths—Yemi Atanda | The Horse and the Tortoise—Yemi Atanda | The Chorus Is Death—Ubaka Ogbogu | Breaking Bread—Obiwu | Still They Hunt for Emmett Till—Obiwu | on wisdom’s wings—Jumoke Verissimo
Part III. HOMECOMING
The Indent (For Pius) —Uche Nduka | when the sun sets—Adejumo Uthman Ajibola | Aridunun Akowe—Dahunsi Ayobami | Pius: Myth, Mystic, Mystery—Tenibegi Karounwi | Returning the Light as Wreath—Ndubuisi Martins (Aniemeka) | Naija is a Badly-Behaved Poem—Ndubuisi Martins (Aniemeka) | Confessions of a Gypsy—Richard Kayode O. James | When the Pious Die—Uchenna-Franklin Ekweremadu | Song of the Pilgrim—Obinna Chukwudi Ibezim | Pius, the Seed—Celina O. Aju-Ameh | Cloud Coffin—Tola Ijalusi | Letter to My Father—Ololade Akinlabi Ige | I Journey Quietly Home—Martin Ijir | Hopeful People—Ndaba Siban | Explaining My Depression to You—Yusuf Taslemat Taiwo | The Broken Quill—Nathanael Tanko Noah | we do not know how to carry this pain—Edaki Timothy. O | Stars, Out—S. Su’eddie Vershima Agema | Converging Skies and Shadows—S. Su’eddie Vershima Agema | Will You? —Biodun Bamgboye | Farewell—Maryam Gatawa | Transit to Kenya—Anthony Enyone Ohiemi | Abiku Agba—Usman Oladipo Akanbi | Evening Bird—Bayowa Ayomide Micheal | Withered Green—Augustine Ogechukwu Nwulia | Home Call…047—Onuchi Mark Onoruoiza | Outshining the Stars—Onuchi Mark Onoruoiza | The Eagle Has Fallen—Manasseh Gowk | Farewell—Manasseh Gowk | Death—Khalid Imam | The Flood—Khalid Imam | Blue Skies—Yejide Kilanko | This Very Goodbye—Nseabasi S. J. King | The Deserted Road or Elegy for Pius Adesanmi—Daniel Olaoluwa Whyte | What My Father Said on His Death Bed—Gbenga Adesina | Wayfarer—James Yeku | One Meets Two—James Yeku | First Goodbye—D.M. Aderibigbe | Monster—Afam Akeh | where you are now—Raphael d’Abdon | When the Curtains Fall—Uchechukwu Umezurike
PART IV. A SELECTION FROM PIUS ADESANMI’S THE WAYFARER AND OTHER POEMS
The Wayfarer—Pius Adesanmi | Ah, Prometheus! —Pius Adesanmi | Odia Ofeimun: The Brooms Take Flight—Pius Adesanmi | To the Unfathomable One—Pius Adesanmi | Message from Aso Rock to a Poet in Exile—Pius Adesanmi | Entries—Pius Adesanmi
Part V. POSTLUDE
A Prose-Poem, a Tribute, and a Wreath for Pius—Adesanmi Anu’a-Gheyle Solomon Azoh-Mbi | When and If…—Pamela J. Olúbùnmi Smith
About the editors
Reviews: Otiono, Umezurike announce release of Wreaths for a Wayfarer
Soundtrack to a Wayfarer s Transition by Eyitayo Aloh https://doi-org.proxy.library.carleton.ca/10.1080/00083968.2020.1829830
“Wreaths for a Wayfarer is an eclectic collection of 161 poems by 126 poets and writers, woven like a tapestry of words into a wreath for one of their own. The mix of writers cuts across generations, social strata and stylistic practices of the genre. Rather than being a drawback, this is actually a strength of the anthology, that one man can bring together such an array of writers in one tome. It is an attestation to the influence of Adesanmi, the wayfarer, on his earthly journey – a man who served as a bridge that connected people from different backgrounds and brought them together for a common cause, be that the academic field of African studies and his desire to see it gain greater traction in academia, or global literature at large and his love of deconstructing the western canonisation of literature. Above all these, however, Adesanmi quintessentially remained a human with love for fellow humans. lt is a testament to Adesanmi’s influence and reach across generations that renowned African poets such as Niyi Osundare, Helon Habila, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, Maxim Uzor Uzoatu, Emman Usman Shehu, Jumoke Verissimo and Funmi Aluko, all representing various ethnic and generational divides, share the pages of the collection with up and coming poets in a poetic salute to a wayfarer who also happens to belong to their artistic tribe.
As a collection, Wreath for a Wayfarer fills a gap in the coming to terms with the tragic passage of Pius Adesanmi by his artistic peers. In a culture that has become so material, that the concept of a wreath carries with it the presence of a cadaver and a tomb – neither of which was present at the time Pius died, due to the nature of his death – to have a “wreath” of words helps give Adesanmi’s contemporaries closure and deal with the trauma that accompanied his passing. One of the co-editors, Nduka Otiono, alludes to this in his introduction, pointing out that the poems represent “the collective wreaths laid by a dispersed community of writers unsettled by the untimely loss of Adesanmi.”