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  • Love after Babel and other poems

    STOP PRESS: Love after Babel selected by as one of Twelve books that form part of the arsenal of Dalit writing by Suraj Yangde.


    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.

    surajyengde
    @surajyengde

    Had an honor to introduce this extremely riveting collection of humanity-filled radical lines “Love After Babel” told by the incomparable art form—Dalit Poetry. Chandramohan is confidently flirtatious with his words. by

  • 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

    Contributors

    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.”

  • Poems for the Penniless

    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.

    You can read the entire book online here for free.

  • Silence Would Be Treason: Last writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa (Expanded 2nd Edition)

    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.

    It was Saro-Wiwa’s leadership, in great part, that forced Shell out of Ogoni in January 1993. The letters are a testament of hope, being one side of robust conversa­tions between two persons that many would find unlikely friends. We learn the lessons that indeed ‘friends love at all times and brothers (and sisters) are born for adversity’, as a proverb in the Bible states. This is where we must applaud Sister Majella McCarron for preserving and making pub­lic these letters that Ken Saro-Wiwa wrote to her between 20 October 1993 and 14 September 1995. The collection includes essays by the three editors, select bibliography and recommended resources.

    You can read this book online for free.

    This is a testament to the bravery of my father, Ken Saro-Wiwa. His words are an inspiration to anyone fighting against tyranny, and a reminder to oppressors the world over that the human spirit can never be broken.

    Noo Saro-Wiwa, author of Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria (2012)

    Here is a remarkable book of the correspondence from one of the greatest leaders of our time to a strong and gentle Catholic sister living half-way around the world. Ken Saro-Wiwa, enduring harsh treatment and facing cer- tain death, writes from detention in Nigeria about justice and honour and sets the bar for courage for the rest of us. Struggles for indigenous justice in the face of corporate tyranny continue to this day. Everyone engaged in these struggles will be moved and inspired by these haunting letters written by a legend.

    Maude Barlow, author, activist and National Chairperson of Council of Canadians

    A poignant collection that unveils a remarkable friendship as much as it animates the memory of Saro-Wiwa’s indomitable spirit. It is perhaps one of the the bitter ironies of his life he had to feed the soldiers who guarded him as well as witness army captains fight over who should be his jailer.

    Brian Chikwava, writer and winner of the 2004 Caine Prize for African Writ- ing, Associate Editor, Wasafiri Magazine

    More fully than any biographical essay would have done, the letters and the poems reveal the mind of the campaigner for justice while he is under arrest, courageously planning and prompting, writing and keeping himself informed, keeping his cause alive, but they also show Ken Saro-Wiwa as the anxious father worrying about his children and as the man alone thrown on his resources. The three lucid essays which frame the letters prove an excel- lent and informative guide to the events behind the letters and add to the importance of this publication.

    Abdulrazak Gurnah, novelist, Booker Prize nominee 2004, winner of the RFI Témoin du Monde Prize 2006 and Professor of English at the University of Kent

    The letters and poems collected in this volume show with great eloquence that Saro-Wiwa confronted Abacha’s darkness, and the darkness of the international oil conglomerates, especially Shell, with anger, sadness, wit and humour. In nearly every letter and poem in the volume there is suffusing light and uncommon grace. I confidently expect that in time, this slim volume will take its rightful place among the most important works of prison writing and environmental activism in the world.

    Biodun Jeyifo, Harvard University

    Following Ken Saro-Wiwa’s second arrest in 1994, Sr Majella McCarron approached Trócaire for help. His release became a priority campaign for us, and we engaged with Shell, the media and Government to try and com- mute the death sentences for him and the eight co-accused Ogoni leaders. I remember the despair in Trócaire’s offices on 10th November 1995 when we learned that all nine had been executed. The struggle of the Ogoni people is a part of Trócaire’s history, and the writings in Silence Would be Treason: Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa are a testament to Ken Saro-Wiwa’s spirit and courage, demonstrating that, even in the darkest of times, love truly can conquer fear.

    Éamonn Meehan, Executive Director of Trócaire

    Clear and direct, these letters and poems are the last expression of a voice the regime was determined to silence: a voice for indigenous rights, environ- mental survival and democracy, many of those battles were won despite his death and whose voice comes alive today again in these extraordinary letters.

    Boletim Africanista, 2013

  • Cradles

    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.

    Like Salimah Valiani’s page