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.
We would like to raise your awareness to current happenings and a heated debate in Prague where the social and cultural centre Klinika is threatened with closure. Authorities refused to extend their lease of an old building that once was a sanatorium for consumptives. Over the last year the Klinika activist group breathed new life into the old premises by organising cultural events and providing aid for homeless people, migrants and refugees, supported by many volunteers. In the last days and weeks hundreds and thousands of Prague’s citizens spoke out against the closure in demonstrations and events organised to support the centre.
More than 30 Czech writers wrote an open letter to support Klinika, among them many poets, e.g. Jáchym Topol and Jonáš Hájek. They organised readings to support the centre. We think that support and solidarity for Klinika is important also beyond Prague and the Czech Republic so we hope this reaches out to many people and places. We are happy that the poets Jáchym Topol and Adam Borzič wrote us some lines about their thoughts and the situation which we can post here in English thanks to @olga_pek.
The poets’ statements:
The Klinika Autonomous Social Centre in Prague is a centre of volunteer help on many levels – from regular shipments of clothes and necessities to refugees and the Zdrojovna (“Sourcing Room”) freeshop, to a homeless kitchen, pre-school kids centre, foreign language school (including Czech as a foreign language) as well as a cultural hub (hosting readings and lectures). It came into being about a year ago, in an outstanding feat of public involvement across the Czech society. Klinika is run exclusively on the basis to civic cooperation and volunteering, with no financial donations or grants either from the state or private companies. While in state ownership, the premises of the former clinic have been dilapidating for many years before the Klinika collective managed to breath a new life into it. Since then it has become the symbolic lungs and heart of the Czech civic society.
Now, after a year of exemplary functioning, during which Klinika successfully won the support of the majority of publicly involved citizens, the state authorities have refused to extend Klinika’s lease contract, citing several bureaucratic obstacles. This comes only a few weeks after an attack by right-wing extremists on Klinika, which took place on the same day that saw demonstrations in Prague both for and against migration. It is precisely as a symbol of the civic society extending help to refugees that Klinika became a target of the ultra-right-wing hooligans.
Many NGO’s and individuals, including those coming from the progressive part of the political representation, have pledged their support to Klinika. Over 30 Czech writers have expressed their support for Klinika in an open letter, many of them well-known poets and authors of fiction. Despite that, the Autonomous centre has been called upon to evacuate the premises. The collective decided to occupy the space and is now trying to negotiate with the authorities.
It seems obvious that the attack on Klinika, launched by the state authorities, is politically motivated and serves especially those who peddle xenophobic and fascist inclinations and populism. Clearly, Klinika seems bothersome because it stands for a non-market, humanistic and communitarian approach to life. This is one of the reasons why many of us, Czech poets, support the Autonomous centre.
Having worked for a year in order to foster conditions where local culture and refugee help would blossom, the volunteers from Klinika centre were attacked by a fascist commando.
The public officers who now refuse to arrange the legal adjustments necessary for Klinika to keep working not only harm a good cause, but also in fact assist in moving the Czech Republic further to the East, somewhere into the “Putinzone” and in close proximity of attempts at a total control of the society.
This video was shot by Ondřej Mazura at a Klinika event last weekend and shows a reading of poet Adam Borzič in the occupied building.
We at lyrikline and Literaturwerkstatt Berlin (Haus für Poesie) support Klinika and hope they will be able to continue their humanitarian and cultural work for a tolerant society. We wish all the protesters who stand united perseverance and, finally, success!
We ask for your solidarity, for example by spreading the news or signing the petiton (see below).
Today, the 1st of February three years ago, is the day Wisława Szymborska, the great Polish poet died in Kraków. On this occasion, we are incredibly happy to be able to present you some of her poems on lyrikline, in her remembrance.
She really was a “Mozart of Poetry”, as many call her – and a modest one! In 1996, she won the Nobel Prize, donated all of the Nobel Prize money to social projects and held one of the shortest thank speeches ever in Stockholm. She actually mockingly divided her life in a “pre-” and a “post-Nobel-catastrophe”-period, as all the attention she got after 1996 was more of a burden to her, who never seeked public attention. It is such warm and precise irony that also characterizes many of her poems. Apart from this ironic perspective, it is not easy to describe Szymborska’s poetry as a whole, as it is so diverse. In fact, each poem is unique in its own way and it is precisely that which makes them all so irresistible.
From today on, you can listen to her yourselves on lyrikline, thanks to the kind permission of the Wisława Szymborska Foundation. This is also a great address if you want to get some additional information and videos, etc. With the help of our network partners we were also able to add translations (Croatian, Belarusian, Estonian, Swedish and German) and more will follow soon, for sure!
This article was written by Carla Hegerl, lyrikline intern who helped preparing and editing Szymborska’s page on lyrikline.
Right before the end of this year we invite you to take a look at what’s going on in the Czech poetry world. Internationally, not very much has been heard of Czech poetry in the last years. At least two developments will certainly do their bit to change this.
First of all, and sort of household news, we started a partnership for lyrikline in the Czech Republic this year and are happy to publish the first three poets resulting from this partnership. Enjoy the poetry of Jaromír Typlt, Kateřina Rudčenková, and Radek Malý. Moreover, a group of about 30 Czech poets and writers founded a Writers’ Association at the end of November 2014 in Prague. The founders of this organisation were discontent with the current professional organisation, the Writers‘ Guild, and felt it had failed to defend the interests of writers. The new association aims to strengthen the Czech literature landscape as a whole, to be a credible partner in negotiations with government institutions, and to establish international collaborations. More Czech writers are expected to join the new organisation. Already among them are the poets Adam Borzič, Ondřej Hanus, Ondřej Buddeus, Božena Správcová, and Jonáš Hájek. Read more about the newly founded Writers’ Association on CzechLit. And here’s a German language radio feature of Radio Prague about the new group.
Last week, in the run up to our website relaunch and the live event, we started an open call and asked for your short ‘Space Poems’. The call is closed now and we would like to thank everyone who took part!! We received 15 poems, sent to us in English and German via twitter, facebook and as blog comments and enjoyed reading the poems a lot. We hope you all do!
… and here are the Space Poems …
when we credulously
reached for the clouds
from the mouth of
a careless fish
by Achim Wagner (via twitter)
words are vinds which blow roofs
Daiga Mežaka (via blog comment)
There’s no sound in a space poem, only the charged particles of solar wind.
by Dave Bonta (via twitter)
Weil polygam in der
Dode jedan ratom
by Friedrich Stockmeier (via facebook)
At one gee
an event horizon forms
one light year
behind my ship:
no news from home
as long as my engine holds out.
(from Microcosms, 5/2011)
by Geoffrey A. Landis (via blog comment)
This poem was read at the lyrikline relaunch event, selected by Catalan lyrikline partner Julià Florit.
im Tosen beginnen die Automaten zu sprechen,
die Menschen zittern und lauschen.
Gebete denkt sich einer.
by Julia Dathe (via facebook)
don’t let me guess what you want
give me or go play somewhere else
in the digital void it’s too dark to see
underground in me is a deep mine
laid by the Furies.
They got tired of people robbing
my precious ores.
If I keep on following
this vein of thought
(too late to replace the years
too bored for revenge)
I’ll end up like those aging rock ’n folk heroes
writing songs of disillusion
spiked with passive aggression
You know, the brittle lyrics that skate
coolly along the surface
endorsing the chosen path of the past
(Don’t look back.) Then crack
to reveal the anger in the last line
with a parting shot. Bang! Bang! —
I wrote you off. All of you.
© Karen Margolis
Berlin, August 2013 (via blog comment)
What would I wear into space?
My black dress with the tiny silver beads.
Not the one with swirls of blue and green
soft lonely longing.
by Kirsty Elliot (via blog comment)
„Au“- schrie es in meinem Kopf. Eine reflexive Reaktion auf das zwickende Zwerchfell? Ein Zwitschern des Augenliedes und katarrhhh klingt es rumorvoll langsam aus.
Er hatte einen traumhaften Schaum. Auf der Etikette stand „selbstaussäend“, doch das las er nicht, sondern setzte sich und dekorierte den Rest mit Passionsflüchten.
2 poems by Lydia (via blog comment)
wir bewegen uns durch welten
nehmen uns her
und bringen uns ein
räumen die welt aus den räumen
by Matthias Dietrich (via blog comment)
All-That-Is a boundless dot, through time and space itself forgot: Dichtung means densification of all-that-matters as vibration.
by Raffael Kéménczy (via twitter)
Message in a bottle of dreams
you should call it free
or else uncoil it
through thin air and in the misfit casts
of rident expansion.”
“Botschaft in einer Flasche aus Träumen
frei nennen / oder abspulen
durch dünne Luft und in den Fehlschmelzen
by Schirin Nowrousian (via facebook)
This poem was read at the lyrikline relaunch event, selected by Belgian poet Els Moors.
A ship at sail…
-does it ever think
the waters may abscond?
Or that the mast
is a woodworm’s nest?–
The bow divides the waves
trusting its strength
and is a god in motion.
by Therese Pace (via blog comment)
Wohin geht der Zugangscode wenn man ihn gedrückt hat?
by UKON (via twitter)
This poem was read at the lyrikline relaunch event, selected by Swedish publisher Thomas Andersson.