Niyi Osundare is Nigeria’s most acclaimed poet. He turned 70 only some day ago, on March 12th. In his home Nigeria he is honoured with an impressive event organised on World Poetry Day in Ibadan. On the occasion of his 70th birthday and World Poetry Day we are proud to present Niyi Osundare on lyrikline where you can now listen to him read seven of his poems.
Remi Raji of Diktaris, the Nigerian partner organisation of lyrikline, pays tribute to this great Nigerian poet.
Niyi Osundare: Gardener and Warrior of Light at 70
by Remi Raji
The gardener of redolent words, the warrior of light, is three scores and ten years on Mother Earth. Niyi Osundare is undoubtedly one of the most enduring voices of Nigerian second generation poetry.
Fire in the bushels of barbarians, scourge of tyrants and traitors, the predictable voice against the conclaves of corruption, he of million metaphors, neither tired nor tiring of speaking truth to crookedness in high and low places.
Born on March 12, 1947 in Ikere-Ekiti, Nigeria, Niyi Osundare has achieved solid fame through hard work, diligence, and a dogged commitment to creativity and intellectual distinction. Grand and multiple award winner for his numerous books of poetry, he is always in great and real elements in the classroom, as trainer and high priest of knowledge. I am certainly not the only witness to Osundare’s unique teaching style…being one in a long list of his Creative Writing students at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
Ten years ago, on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, I penned a tribute about Osundare’s philosophy of art:
Chinua Achebe teaches us a masterful and disarming narrative style filled with both lessons and puzzles; Soyinka bequeaths to us a large canvass of artistic genius and political daring; and Okigbo, the combination of the puzzle and the daring that the real author is all about, provides us with the limitless possibilities of the Muse, the true excitement of imagination. In his poetry and essays, Osundare, the scion of Osun captures the vagaries of the African dilemma, with the deep emotive insight of a revolutionary artist. Always, he queries the “jangling discord” of the Nigerian nation in a harmonious language made for intimacy and intelligibility; he draws consistently on the heritage of Yoruba verbal elegance which he transforms onto the graphic and permanent intelligence of the written word; for him the page is only a tangible site for the performance of the poetic text, and the voice, with the atmosphere of delivery, is the thing. To read a poem sitting, or standing like Sigidi, he insists, is to commit an abominable act, a disservice to the pageant of the enchanted word!
Indeed, Niyi Osundare is the poet of the alter-native tradition par excellence.
Global Nigerian. African Patriot. Engaging Poet. Three odd things to be at the same time, at all time, Niyi Osundare continues a healthy dialogue with his country and continent, without apologies, without compromise and without anxieties. Master of romantic and satirical verses, his most recent poem to the Nigerian/African public sphere is indeed both topical as it is provocative: “My Lord, Tell Me Where to Keep Your Bribe”.
We celebrate Olosunta’s child, Katrina’s survivor, we celebrate decades of unrelenting writing and activism. Many hearty cheers to the author of Songs of the Marketplace, Village Voices, A Nib in the Pond, The Eye of the Earth, Moonsongs, Songs of the Season, Waiting Laughters, The Word is an Egg, Tender Moments, Random Blues…etc.
May many more celebrations come and go like the rains in the predictable hour.
World Poetry Day Event
A special interactive event on World Poetry Day (Tuesday, March 21, 2017) is dedicated to Niyi Osundare’s ideas and poetry under the title “Poetry, Politics and Society.”
Participants include Nelson Fashina (author of Gods at the Harvest, 1998), Ademola Dasylva (ANA Poetry Prize winner, 2006), Tade Ipadeola (NLNG Poetry Prize winner, 2013), Jumoke Verissimo (Creative Coordinator of Ibadan Poetry Foundation, and author of I am Memory, 2008 and The Birth of Illusion, 2015) and Matthew Umukoro (author of Dross of Gold, 2002).
Also scheduled to perform at the event is a list of emerging and engaging Nigerian poets like Funmi Aluko, Ibukun Adeeko (Winner of the Babishai Poetry Prize, 2015), Charles Akinsete, Ndubuisi Martins Aniemeka, Bartholomew Akpah, Sola Ojikutu, Oladele Noah, Oredola Ibrahim, Theo Edokpayi, Danladi Sunday, O’Busayor, Saddiq Dzukogi (ANA Teen Author Prize winner & Brunel International African Poetry Prize, 2017 Shortlist) and Rasaq Malik (Brunel International African Poetry Prize, 2017 Shortlist).
The venue of the programme is the Faculty of Arts Quadrangle, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
Time: 18.00 – 20.00.
This is an Open Event.
DIKTARIS-NIGERIA, in partnership with LYRIKLINE, BERLIN-GERMANY
IBADAN POETRY FOUNDATION (IBPF)
Remi Raji is a Nigerian poet, scholar, literary organiser, and cultural activsit. He is a member of the lyrikline partner network with Diktaris and his poems can be read and listened to on lyrikline.
Presenting poetry from Burundi is not an easy task. T.S. Eliot seemed to think true poetry is hardly translated, and one needs to truly sense where those words are from. Until the emergence of the modern, there was no need of presentingpoetry, for poetry was part of life.
….do you feel her drive?
Look at his eyes,
Do you read his verse? 
But the unity of life, some will say, was lost with the last myth and cosmic societies, that Burundi belonged to until a century ago. Dissolved by the increasing requirements of the modern world, several separate and independent spheres were born. One of them, the arts and culture, has grown (often unwillingly) to acquire the function of precisely representing the lost unity.
Beyond their powers to express the various contradictions and sensitivities, the world literature offers us symbolic levers for an understanding and appropriation of our lives. The young contemporary Burundian literature is best understood in this context, which is of an attempt to understand its environment and express its sensibility to the world.
In his academic book La Littérature de langue française au Burundi,  Professor J. Ngorwanubusa of the University of Burundi regrets however the few avenues for the literature of Burundi. There is barely any publishing house; a few reviews had been existing in the 1960s and 1970s but never survived except a few Christian reviews run by a few members of the Burundi Catholic Church.
But the interested literary person won’t miss the corners behind the central market where the old (often stolen!) books are sold, the oldest book storeLibrairie St Paul, or the French cultural center (whose interesting café hosts the unfortunately more and more penniless intellectuals in the city!) and of course the newly opened Lire Africa in Gallerie Alexander, specializing in fiction from Africa. A blog by the poet Thierry Manirambona (“la plume burundaise”) lists an impressive archeology of Burundian books old and new, and a few poets do publish their poetry directly on the internet as the acclaimed Ketty Nivyabandi.
Poetry in print might be hard to find in the country, but if you are insisting you will discover the underground intellectual and literary scene of the marvelous Café literaire Samandari that meets every Thursday evening at the Burundi Palace right in the middle of the city center. But one should say they met there, for since a year now these meetings are no longer held. (more…)
By Pauline Fan
An attempt to chart the origins and evolution of modern poetry in Malaysia unearths complex historical processes and cultural interactions that have shaped contemporary Malaysian society. To speak of the writing of poetry in Malaysia, one must grapple with – or at least try to imagine – the essentially pluralist and polyglot nature of its people as well as the changing socio-cultural landscape, where “the map of a thousand lives will be seen* ”.
Malaysia is a country where at least four main languages predominate – Malay, English, Chinese and Tamil, further punctuated by a multitude of dialects and colloquialisms according to clan or region. The multicultural and multilingual population of the Malay Peninsula has been evident since at least the 15th century, when the Sultanate of Malacca rose to become one of the most thriving entrepôts in Asia, drawing merchants, scholars, and envoys from neighbouring kingdoms and faraway empires alike. Successive waves of immigrants from all over the Malay Archipelago, China, and India – some of whom settled, intermarried, and formed new distinct communities and cultures such as the peranakan or Straits-born communities – added yet more layers to the inextricable diversity of Malaysian society.
The conquest of Malacca by Portuguese (1511) and Dutch (1641) imperial powers preceded British colonial control, and later the Japanese occupation, of the Malay Peninsula and the northern provinces of Borneo. Each of these imperialist presences left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of Malaysia, including on the Malay language in the case of Portuguese, Dutch and English, adding to the vast compendium of loanwords in Malay from Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Chinese. The Malay language served as a lingua franca for the Malay Archipelago for centuries, and forms the basis of the standardised national languages of both Malaysia (Bahasa Malaysia) and Indonesia (Bahasa Indonesia), mutually intelligible with some differences in vocabulary and spelling.
Oral traditions and pan-Malay poets
The origins of Malay-language poetry can be traced to the vast and various oral traditions that have been cradled in the Malay Archipelago as well as classical Malay texts known as Hikayat that date back as far as the 14th century. Traditional Malay poetic forms include the syair, the pantun, the gurindamand seloka, all of which are found in both oral and written literature. While traditional or classical, many of these poetic forms are intrinsically innovative, urging improvisation and spontaneous composition. The pantun, for instance, was sometimes performed as balas pantun, a call-and-response ‘duel’ or ‘flirtation’ between two poets, especially during performances of the Dondang Sayang (love ballads) of Malacca. (more…)
Ten of the most interesting writers working in Europe today have been selected for special promotion by an international jury drawn from prestigious literary venues and festivals.
The list includes poets and novelists as well as translators and non-fiction writers from ten European countries – Catalonia, Croatia, Hungary, Portugal, Macedonia, Malta, Norway, Scotland, Slovenia and Turkey, and was announced at the 2016 London Book Fair on Thursday 14 April 2016, as part of the Literary Europe Live project led by lyrikline network partner Literature Across Frontiers.
The New Voices 2016 are:
Juana Adcock (GB)
Bruno Vieira Amaral (PT)
Clare Azzopardi (MT)
Rumena Buzarovska (MK)
Erika Fatland (NO)
Albert Forns (ES)
Anja Golob (SI)
Arpad Kollar (HU)
Ciwanmerd Kulek (TR)
Zoran Pilić (HR)
Over the next twelve months, the work of these ten literary creators will be promoted in a series of live and digital events across the European Union and beyond. An anthology of their writings will also be published.
The aim of the New Voices from Europe selection is to highlight the richness and diversity of European writing in all its genres and languages, including minority languages.
“Our New Voices will be given an opportunity they might not otherwise have with similar international or European awards,” said the Director of Literature Across Frontiers, Alexandra Büchler. “Some of them write in a language which a national jury might not read or their own state does not recognise, despite the fact that it is spoken by millions. Alternatively, they may be writing in a language so small that their readership at home is limited to hundreds and there are few literary translators who can render their work in other languages. But all this does not mean that they should not be heard – so with the New Voices selection, we are doing what Literature Across Frontiers has done for the past fifteen years now. We’re making literature travel, sometimes from the most unexpected places.”
1. Juana Adcock is a poet and translator who has lived in Scotland since (more…)
The celebration of World Poetry Day is over – but the playlists and the postings about Poetry and Performance are still online. This is an overview of all interviews, videos and texts.
(1) Approaching UNESCO World Poetry Day
Essay about performance and expectations towards a performative event
lyrikline playlist live performances
(2) Reading and Recording
Video of a recording session and a reading by Carolin Callies [German with English summary]
lyrikline playlist studio hightlights
(3) No performance without an audience
Interview with scientist and poet Anja Utler about the reception of spoken poetry
lyrikline playlist talking to the audience
(4) Presenting a poem in different ways
Interview with Gerhard Falkner about artistic cooperation [German video with English summary]
lyrikline playlist music performances
(5) Voices in action
Videos of three artists in the field of spoken word, rap and slam poetry
lyrikline playlist spoken word performer
(6) Sound out loud!
Interview with Pierre Guéry, Eirikur Örn Norddahl and Jaap Blonk about their performative experiences
lyrikline playlist sound poetry
(7) World Poetry Day
Celebration of World Poetry Day with performances of Kurt Schwitters, Jaap Blonk and Anat Pick
Die Festivitäten zum Welttag der Poesie sind vorbei – doch die deutschen und englischen Beiträge und Playlists zu Poesie und Performance sind weiterhin online. Eine Übersicht über die einzelnen Texte, Videos und Interviews erleichtert den Zugriff:
(1) Welttag der Poesie auf lyrikline
Ein einleitendes Essay erläutert eine Verwendung des Performance-Begriffs, ein kurzer Audio-Betrag gibt Einblicke in die Erwartungen an eine Performance von Seiten des Publikums.
lyrikline playlist live performances
(2) Lesungen und O-Töne
Die Dichterin Carolin Callies wird filmisch bei einer Aufnahmesituation im Tonstudio der lyrikline und bei einer Lesung in der Literaturwerkstatt Berlin begleitet. Unterschiedliche Arten des Lyrikverständnisses werden aufgegriffen.
lyrikline playlist studio highlights
(3) Keine Performance ohne Rezipierende
In einem ausführlichen Interview gibt die Wissenschaftlerin und Dichterin Anja Utler Auskunft über ihr Forschungsgebiet “Wahrnehmung von gesprochenen Gedichten”.
lyrikline playlist talking to the audience
(4) Viele Arten ein Gedicht zum Sprechen zu bringen
Ein Video zeigt den Dichter Gerhard Falkner im Interview mit lyrikline über seine Kooperationen mit anderen Künstlern und den Performances, die dabei entstehen.
lyrikline playlist music performances
(5) Voices in action
Drei Videos mit TJ Dema, Sharrif Simmons und Maud Vanhauwaert zeigen die kraftvolle Wirkung von Gedichten im Umfeld von Spoken Word, Rap und Slam Poetry.
lyrikline playlist spoken word performer
(6) Sound out loud!
In einem englischen Interview berichten die Soundpoeten Pierre Guéry, Eirikur Örn Norddahl und Jaap Blonk von ihren performativen Ansprüchen und Erlebnissen.
lyrikline playlist sound poetry
(7) World Poetry Day
Wir feiern den Welttag der Poesie mit drei großartigen Performances von Kurt Schwitters, Jaap Blonk und Anat Pick.
Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Welttag der Poesie!
An alle Dichter und Denkerinnen, Liebhaber, Selberschreiber und alle, die ohne Poesie nicht aus dem Haus gehen wollen. Mit dem Ende einer Woche voll Poesie und Performance kehren wir zum gemeinsamen Urgrund zurück und feiern mit drei bahnbrechenden Poesie-Performances das Aufkommen und die Vielfalt poetischer Performancekonzepte, ihre Weiterentwicklung, ihre internationale Sprengkraft und ihr DADA-Potenzial. Hier sind Ausschnitte aus Kurt Schwitters Ursonate gelesen vom Autor, Jaap Blonks Performance Ursonography der Schwitterschen Ursonate und Anat Picks Part 1 der tongueTrum (N’ur so nata).
World Poetry Day Congratulations!
To all poets, performers and poetry lovers! This is our final posting in a week full of poetry and performance recalling the very basis of all performative poetry: With Kurt Schwitters´ Ursonate (primordial sonata or sonata in primordial sounds), Jaap Blonk and Golan Levin performing Ursonography and Anat Picks Part 1 tongueTrum (N’ur so nata) we want to celebrate poetic performances and their further development, their international impact and their dada potential.
Listen to the whole piece performed by his son Ernst Schwitters at/ die gesamte Sonate gesprochen von seinem Sohn Ernst Schwitters auf: Kurt Schwitters Ursonate UBU
Noch mehr Versionen von Jaap Blonk auf/ more versions at Jaap Blonk Ursonate UBU
tongueTrum (N’ur so nata) Pt. I by/von Anat Pick (Textvorlage/script at/auf lyrikline)
Auf ein neues Jahr voller Stimmen, Laute und Gedichte, die man hören muss!
To another wonderful year of sounds, voices and poems that want to be heard!
Anat Pick and
Jaap Blonk at lyrikline
Performativity is a central characteristic of sound poetry: Poetry and sound become one. Written notices are only of supportive function and help to realize the poems as sounds. Voice and body of the performers are part of the event that can be a bodily experience for both performers and audience. Sound poets are known for their extreme dedication. They scream and whisper fighting or praising the word and its acclaimed meaning.
We asked sound poetry-performers Pierre Guéry, Jaap Blonk and Eirikur Örn Norddahl about their personal artistic view on performance and their experiences with it. And once more we find out, that the term performance has a wide range that differs a lot in both its theoretical understanding and its – performance!
Bei Lautpoesie steht die Performativität der Gedichte unangefochten im Mittelpunkt: Laut und Gedicht sind eins, schriftliche Notizen dienen meist nur als behelfsmäßige Gedächtnisstützen und stehen als solche hinter der Realisierung des Gedichts im Laut zurück. Stimme und Körper der Performenden sind unmittelbar mit dem Ereignis verknüpft, das auch für das Publikum zu einer körperlichen Erfahrung werden kann. Lautpoetinnen und -poeten sind für ihre außerordentliche Präsenz, ihre Lust am Experimentieren und ihre unübertroffenen Hingabe auf der Bühne bekannt.
Pierre Guéry, Jaap Blonk und Eirikur Örn Norddahl beantworten für lyrikline Fragen zu ihrem Verständnis von Performance und berichten aus ihrem Erfahrungsschatz. Die englischen Interviews werden durch Videos ergänzt, die Guéry und Norddahl in Aktion zeigen. Und Blonk? Den zeigen wir am Welttag der Poesie.
What is a performance – what is not performative?
Pierre Guéry: Concerning poetry, a performance is not a simple reading. Above all it is the whole poet’s body into space creating an energetic contact with the audience. With a text of course, but with a type of text that can involve the entire being of the poet: what he means with words, for sure, but also what his body suggests, what his voice impacts. For a performance the poet cannot remain into distance with his creation – whether he’s alone or with other artists on stage. Basically, he’s got to recall the specific pulse that was inside him while writing and give it back to the audience in its nudity. He’s got to have a strong will for transmitting and sharing this pulse sincerely, not being afraid by his fragility or violence. The audience knows very well whether this happens or not, and there is no possible cheating.
What is not performative: a simple reading with a great musician or a nice video! This is not enough to call it performance, though it is very current. Poetry performance (especially what is called sound poetry), as well, is not just yelling words like a mad person! A poetic performance is not just melting different arts to give the poem a beautiful suit.
Jaap Blonk: For myself it is 100% clear if I am performing or not. It’s a matter of turning a switch from 0 to 1 and back.
In the case of most poets I have seen on stage, supposedly performing, it wasn’t so clear if they were actually doing a performance or not.
Eirikur Örn Norddahl: My idea of performance is very much connected to the idea of “live” – a recording of a performance is closer to being text, which is then only performative at the moment of writing.
How important is loudness to your work?
Pierre Guéry: Loudness is just a help and can be fun. I use it quite often and create some effects that amplify what my voice wants to give. It is only a tool in my work and I never base on it because I want to keep a certain nudity. I do not want to count on technology to find something that I don’t possess myself.
Jaap Blonk: I assume by loudness you mean volume (dynamics in musical terms). This is of eminent importance for my work. I give it the utmost care in all gradations.
Eirikur Örn Norddahl: There needs to be a framed spectrum – the spectrum doesn’t have be great, but there needs to be an upper and lower border within which the artwork functions, for there to also be a breaking point, a point where the border is pierced and/or crumbles. It can never be so loud that you cannot – through effort – still make it a little bit louder if needed. I have also often thought of the connection between loudness and power as being interesting, not only because we often see the correlation – whether it be shouting police dogs or bombs – but because loudness is also a mask for the powerless, just as silence is a mask for the powerful.
What must the audience provide?
Pierre Guéry: There is no « must »! The audience provides or not, and it provides what it provides if the poet himself provides something strong – otherwise no feedback!
Jaap Blonk: There’s nothing the audience ‘must’ provide. However, I very much appreciate it if their interest goes deeper than just attending a performance, and also stretches toward the permanent objects of art, such as books and recordings.
Eirikur Örn Norddahl: Presence. Humanity.
What was the greatest thing that happened to you onstage?
Pierre Guéry: So many great things happen all the time! The greatest thing is probably, most often, what is unexpectable – when the feedback is a total surprise (and consequently gives an unknown and new meaning to the piece that is performed).
Also when work involves another artist and when both poet and artist touch a state of grace by « making love to eachother » onstage – I mean find their own soul in the other one’s soul.
Jaap Blonk: Crossing what I had so far considered ‘the border of madness’, and finding out that the audience was not embarrassed at all, but touched by a genuine artistic utterance.
Eirikur Örn Norddahl: I don’t know if it can be considered great, but I once for a moment thought I had killed the great Jacques Roubaud with my poetry. He was sitting at the front at a show at the Days of poetry and wine in Ptuj, Slovenia, on a shaky stump of wood. When I started my show – which consisted of all sorts of weird noises and conceptually and politically motivated wisecracks – he started laughing. And he just kept laughing. When I broke into a ten minute shoutfest consisting of 17th century Icelandic zaum-nonsense he laughed so hard that he fell of his tree stump, stumbling on to the sidewalk. He was 80 at the time and half the festival panicked and got up to see if he was OK, and I still had eight minutes left of my shoutfest, looking out the corner of my eye feeling very insecure as to whether or not I had accidentally murdered one of my idols and whether or not that meant I should stop. (He was fine; and I didn’t stop).
I once had a whole platoon of finnish teen girls and horse enthusiasts chant along with one of my poems with great energy, I have had children go mad with joy, running around glowing – but I’ve also had people boo me, throw stuff at me, I have had people cry, shout, and one person even had an epileptic fit when I was on stage. And then I hadn’t even started reading yet.
Spoken Word, Rap, and Slam Poetry: Those could be first things that come to mind when we think about poetry and performance. Voices, words and poems are loud and powerful when they fight for justice and against repression. But the words always also stand and fight for themselves, for the space they need, their language and the connections they achieve. In TV-Shows and concert halls performers like Ursula Rucker, Saul Williams, L-ness and others give rise to the power with which a poem constitutes and forms a reality.
The selected videos demonstrate how the established surroundings of poems and their categories can be challenged to find new ways of reaching an audience. TJ Dema postulates a word in action, Sharrif Simmons meets other artists in the streets of a foreign country, Maud Vanhauwaert performs her poem in a quotidian surrounding.
Spoken Word, Rap, Slam Poetry: So könnte eine spontane Assoziationskette aussehen, die an Poesie und Performance anknüpft. Hier treten, Stimme, Wort und Gedicht unüberhörbar in Aktion. Oft tritt das Wort für eine gerechtere Gesellschaft ein und gegen Repression. Dabei steht und kämpft es immer auch für sich und für den Raum, den es greift, für die Sprache, die es spricht, die Verbindung, die es schafft. Performerinnen wie Ursula Rucker, Saul Williams, L-ness und andere setzen auf die realitätserzeugende Wirkung der Wörter und demonstrieren in vollen Konzertsälen, in Fernsehshows und auf Wettbewerben die Kraft ihrer Stimmen.
Die ausgewählten Videos zeigen, wie über die bereits etablierten Gedicht-Schauplätze und Kategorien hinaus auf ein Publikum zugegangen werden muss, um einer Zuhörerschaft neu zu begegnen. TJ Dema formuliert die Forderung nach dem Wort in Aktion, Sharrif Simmons testet seine Wirkung in einem fremden Land, Maud Vanhauwaert bringt ihr Gedicht in alltäglichen Situationen zum Einsatz.
A poem is a poem – what else could it be? The German poet Gerhard Falkner is eager to try out new ways of presenting his work. Collaborations with other artists, filmmakers, graphic and sound designers are the results of his curiosity towards new shapes and dimensions of poetry.
In an interview with lyrikline he describes the two steps of his artistic process. During the creation of a poem the dimension of sound is already included: “Denken ist hören” – “thinking is listening” and cannot be separated from writing or reading. But the access to poetry differs: Reading and listening are two possibilities with different advantages. The second step of the process comes after the production when the “original” poem is already concluded. In collaborations Falkner describes himself as a tree that is being put in scene by a fence or a poster: It is still the tree but it is being looked at differently. His openness towards working together with other artists anticipates the recognition of different energies. Text, sound and action must profit from the coincident presentation. The first performance of Das Wort by Gerhard Falkner and Sound Designer Johannes Malfatti at the Literaturwerkstatt Berlin demonstrates the synergy of improvisation and montage of text and sound.