I see the invisible

Author’s Note

 Truth be told, I never thought I would write another volume of poetry after the last, I will not Dance to Your Beat (2011). The reason was that my previous volumes were reactive to the circumstances of the times. Patriots and Cockroaches (1992) was a reaction to the socio-political corruption that had engulfed Africa and dimmed the enthusiasm that had been built by the years of struggle for independence. Whereas we thought we were stepping into a post-colonial era, what we stepped into was a vicious neo-colonial times. The next collection, Poems on the Run (1995) was a reaction to military autocracy and the repression that followed. The volume was literally written underground. This was followed by Intercepted (1998) all written while detained at Kalakuta Republic of Alagbon Close. We Thought it was Oil But it was Blood (2002) responded to two things primarily – extractivism and the accompanying human and environmental rights abuses in the Niger Delta and elsewhere. The massive erosion of biodiversity and attacks on food sovereignty through the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into our agricultural system inspired I Will not Dance to your Beat.

What you have in your hands, or on your screens, is a compilation that is largely more meditative than the previous collections. There are moments of reflection on the colonial and neoliberal foundations that permit a willful disconnection from nature and the resultant destructive extractivism.

Some of the poems came through conversations and poetry writing sessions with Peter Molnar,  Maryam al-Khawaja — Rafto Human Rights laureates and Salil Tripathi, a member of the board of PEN International, in August 2017. The sessions held at a beautifully rustic  location in Celleno, Italy, were documented on celluloid by the duo of Maria Galliana Dyrvik and Anita Jonsterhaug Vedå of SMAU, a multimedia firm in Norway. Poetic relationship with Maria and Anita has continued over the years and their work continues to inspire more and more poems.

We have also had time to ponder on the criminalization of environmental defenders and the burdening of victims with survival struggles with no life boughs. The poems were written over a wide span of time and require some pondering as poems often demand, of course. Although written over a broad time spectrum, they fall into identifiable themes. The harsh times that birthed the earlier volumes were blunted with doses of humour as poetry is largely therapeutic and contributes to our wellness and well-being.

In our communities, poetry and song are key tools for exposure of ills in our societies, for education and for rebuke. Poetry is an indispensable cultural tool with which we laugh at the wicked and add the needed bounce to our steps as we march on to end ecocide and give our people and other beings a chance to retain our being.

The call of this volume is that we must ensure that we see the invisible and hear the inaudible.

Nnimmo Bassey




Author’s Note


 Mother Earth our Teacher

 Scarified and sacrificed 

The Womb of the Earth

Choked by Convenience 

 I’m Not Afraid

I come from the future

 Recent Ancients Foretold


The Other Side

I like those bridges 

Rising Smoke


Static Drip






 There is beauty


 Duty Bound

 I Have Been in Motion


 Hill Huggers

 Swamp buggies

 Bumping into the Wind

 Mangled Mangroves

 Rainbows on the Sea

 Stilts and Wiggles

 The Stump I So Loved


 Beads of Inspiration

 Time Comes

 Astonished monkeys

 Seducing the Bees

 The lands we fight to own

 Tenants of Furious Times



 I see the invisible


 Portals of Greed

 Looter’s Boulevards

Cast a Vote

Political Will

 This hate does not define us




 We Planted a Flag

 Welcome to the age of paradox


 By Me We Spoke

 After Oil We Flourish (The Niger Delta isn’t a ticking ecological time bomb)

 A Dirge for Fossil Capitalism

 Return to Being

Python songs

Becoming Clearer

 Riding the Waves of Time

 When You Clock 6 and 2

 Rainbows Through the Tears

 Climate Debt Long Overdue

Poetry in the time of pandemic

We must breathe again

 Net Zero Comes to Zero

 Dreadful Liars On Heartless Shores

 We are Seeds

 Living Earth

We can plant a seed

 In the Shadows of the Future (For Jay Naidoo & Stephen Pittam)

What is in that Barrel?       

No More Sins to Confess

Pavements of Shame

Dawn in Celleno

Lago di Bolsena





 No vantage points


 I Catch Myself

 Holding my Peace

 Dreams Dissolved

Traps Sold on Lies

Wicked Genes


If the Sun Slept

ISBN Print: 978-1-990263-89-7
Publication Date: January 15, 2024
Page Count: 146
Binding Type: Softcover
Trim Size: 6in x 9in
Language: English
Colour: B&W


Nnimmo Bassey is a Nigerian environmental justice activist, architect, essayist and poet. He is the director of the ecological think-tank, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and coordinator of Oilwatch International. He was the chair of Friends of the Earth…

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