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These poems were largely written during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The last poem in the collection was written at the start of the second wave in Africa. Most were circulated through What’s App voice notes, an intimate way of keeping distance while reaching out to touch.
This publication is available in the following formats: a printed book, ePub, PDF and audiobook.
Nikesha Breeze has taken pages from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, taken his words, and forced them to leave his colonized mind. She has made the words her own in poetic form. She illuminates the invisible Black voices inside, a radical, surgical, and unapologetic Black appropriation, at the same time as a careful birthing and spiritual road map. The resulting poems are sizzling purifications, violent restorations of integrity, pain, wound, bewilderment, rage, and, sometimes, luminous generosity.
The violent, scathing white supremacy of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is traversed page by page and word by word in this brilliant prayer/poem—a work of reclamation, redemption, rescue, and repossession. — Wende Marshall, co-editor Insurrectionary Uprisings: A Reader in Revolutionary Nonviolence and Decolonization
ANNOUNCEMENT: Love After Babel wins Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén Batista Outstanding Book Award by the Caribbean Philosophical Association
Congratulations to Chandramohan S!
Love after Babel is a collection of poems that deal with themes such as caste, the resistance of Dalit people, Dalit literature, islamophobia and other political themes, with almost one hundred poems divided into three sections (Call Me Ishmail Tonight; Name Me a Word; Love after Babel). The introduction is by Suraj Yengde (award-winning scholar and activist from India, author of the bestseller Caste Matters, inaugural postdoctoral fellow at the Initiative for Institutional Anti-racism and Accountability, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School).
Chandramohan’s poems are dialogues of the ‘ self’ with the ‘other’. He brings to life a world that subverts myths, literary canons, gender and caste stereotypes by pooling in sparklingly new metaphors with sensitivity and care. He draws his images from contemporary incidents as well as myths and legends of yore, and delves deep into the politicized realm, thus ‘rupturing the hymen of demarcations’ of identity, resistance, repression and love.
—Babitha Marina Justin, poet, artist and academician
Chandramohan’s poetry is an extraordinary combination of a strong individual voice, crying out against a deeply felt sense of personal abuse, and a sophisticated understanding of the long history and mythology of such abuse, in India but also in the world at large. Mythological figures like Shambuka and Urmila illluminate, and are illuminated by, modern atrocities. The poems are by turns shocking, moving, and exhilarating. —Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty is an American Indologist whose professional career has spanned five decades.
Chandramohan S has the stark ability as a poet to react to any social happening, and these turn out to be in the most responses to societal happenings, plunged into the dark interiors of human behavior. So these could be related to caste oppression. Economic exploitation, religious polemics etc. But the poetic ability or the agility is always there to handle a situation born out of politico- social situations. There lies his remarkable dexterity as a poet commentator. His lines are direct, and even angry. But that does not matter. This is poetry- at its best. No wonder then that, his poems have been published world wide. He is perhaps now one of the very few, if not the only Indian poet in English to have taken the burden of social and political repression, as a distinct and livid political idiom. To read his poems is also painful, but the poetry is in the pain!—Ananya S Guha lives in Shillong in North East India. He has been writing and publishing his poetry for the last 33 years.Love after Babel selected by as one of Twelve books that form part of the arsenal of Dalit writing by Suraj Yangde.surajyengde@surajyengde
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
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.”
Dispossessed is a poetic representation of life in three stages through the eyes of a poet. It shows, from the thematic interests of the poet; what he considers the crucial stages in life – Innocence, Transgression and Atonement.
Innocence offers a racy view of the picture gallery of the poet’s life as a child. The sensibilities of the poet shine through the foliage of his mind as he pines for self-definition; seeking open ears for his verses. But it is also a period of apprenticeship as the poet hones his skills for the artistic long journey that is inevitable. Clothed in the innocence of childhood, he learns to talk in metaphors and search for himself in the community of imaginative people. This search lights up the path into the poet’s aesthetic mindscape and the silent questions that keep him awake. Innocence is therefore a thirst for sunlight; a quest for utterance.
The unwary reader is beckoned into the quest through poems that evoke memories of their own childhood and conscript them into the ensuing communal experience. However, the human condition abhors inertia. But for any form of natural or artistic growth to occur, the poet must lose his innocence. So, Innocence and its poems of idyllic childhood soon give way to the unexpected — Transgression. Transgression is the coming of age segment of the collection. The poet discovers love. And slowly, he finds himself taking a dip in a pool of emotion that appears to serve as the ultimate sparkplug for his songs.
In essence, Transgression eases the reader into a rare observatory; from where the poet could be seen falling in and out of love and celebrating one of the most profound experiences known to man. It must be noted that in some instances, the love poems of Transgression are also not what they seem on the surface. In some instances, the poet addresses his troubled relationship with his country through poetry; mirroring his personal frustrations and disappointment in verses that come off as a voice of disenchantment. Caught in the firm grip of emotions, the poet changes like the English weather.
But after waves of emotional whirlwinds in Transgression, the poet faces the next logical step — Atonement. Atonement presents a poet who has undergone the rites of passage and weaned himself of self-doubts. He has washed his hands clean and must settle down to a fireside dinner with the elders. But as it turns out, the poet is not only seeking the ears of his genealogical ancestors and elders; he is also seeking the counsel of serious poets, past and present whose nod he needs to take on the weighty issues of his time. So, he comes with a “fistful of kolanuts” as is customary with his people who supplicate their elders and ancestors with kolanuts. In gaining entry into this conclave of his biological and artistic ancestors, he acquires the aesthetic authority to ask weighty questions about the world around him. He is incensed by what assails his sensibilities; a world that turns a blind eye to injustice and a humanity that needs an open heart surgery.
Atonement could also be seen as the poet’s personal admission that serious poetry ought to speak to the dominant issues of the day; the anxieties and insomnia of the age. He muses about these issues; posing rhetorical questions in about them in some instances.
In the end, dispossessed is one man’s journey that finally assumes all the attributes of a communal voyage. Treading in the imagined interstices between the personal and the communal, dispossessed leads us to a clearing in the woods where our awareness of our world heightens with the turning of every page.
James Eze was born in Enugu, southeast Nigeria, shortly after the Biafran War. He was the pioneer Literary Editor of Sunday Sun. As Head of External Communications at Fidelity Bank, he worked in partnership with the novelist Chimamanda Adichie to begin her popular International Creative Writing Workshop series. He is the curator of Under African Skies which hosts A Flutter in the Woods; a yearly evening of poetry and songs in Awka, Anambra State. He also co-founded The Return to Idoto, a poetry festival in honour of Christopher Okigbo. His poems have appeared in Camouflage: Best of Contemporary Writing from Nigeria.
These poems by Issa Shivji, lawyer, activist and Tanzanian public intellectual, were written at different times in different circumstances. They give vent to personal anguish and political anger. Mostly originally written in Kiswahili, here accompanied by English translations, and they are intensely personal and political.
Poems are clustered under several headings to provide a context. The first combines personal agony at the loss of comrades and friends with poems about love and affection for living ones. The second is about robberies of freedom, resources, and dignity and the loss of justice under neoliberalism. The third section, entitled Hopes and Fears, comprises short poems tweeted over the last five years expressing despair, fear and hope in the human capacity for freedom.
The last section are poems, concerned with Shivji’s period in South Africa in 2018, reflect on the emergence of neo-apartheid with its wanton and shameless exploitation of the majority.
Wonderfully translated by Ida Hadjivayanis.
Edited by Íde Corley, Helen Fallon, Laurence Cox
These letters and poems are invaluable fragments of a living conversation that portrays the indomitable power in humans to stay alive in the face of certain death – to stay alive even in death.
Reading through the treasure trove of the letters and poems compiled here as The Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa evokes intense memories of his resolute struggles against an oil behemoth and a deaf autocratic government. His crusade frames one of the most tumultuous periods of Nigeria’s history; his tragic story evokes anger and demands action to resolve the crises that first led the Ogoni people to demand that Shell clean up Ogoni lands or clear out of the territory.
Valiani has written a beautiful and insightful book of poetry about the birthplace of humanity; ‘the cradle of civilization’, Africa. The poems are gathered into four sections: “Womb”; “Land(s)”; “Tides”; “Wind”. Each section is prefaced by philosophy, findings and artifacts of “Maropeng” which becomes both subject and predicate for this soothing poetry: a lullaby for the soul’s remembering. Candice James Poet Laureate Emerita of New Westminster
Cradles is a collection poems on the nature(s) and nurturing that cradle us. They are divided into four parts: Womb is the first cradle, both ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’, under-acknowledged and often unmentioned. Beyond the physical womb of individuals, there are collective wombs that incubate on yet grander and greater scales. Land(s) are the cradles we typically identify as our ‘origins’, but as the Cradle of Humankind teaches, the many lands of today are interlaced in many concealed ways and originated in a single, little understood place. Tides are the many migrations and cycles of time that shape us. They can shift, upset and remake the nurturing of cradles; but also cradle us in cycles of wreckage. Wind sets us free of places and times of origin. This detachment can bring freedom, a sense of loss/lostness, and the many things in between. The freedom/loss/lostness spiral whirls with the wind and transforms. In surrendering to it we can alter its pace to our needs and desires.