lyrikline blog

Nigeria celebrates Niyi Osundare’s 70th birthday on World Poetry Day

Posted in Niyi Osundare, our network partners, Remi Raji by lyrikline on 21. March 2017

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.

Niyi Osundare, photo: gezett

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.

Event Coordination:
Supported by:


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.


Looking back on the relaunch day – a summary

We had been eagerly awaiting the “relaunch day” for months. As of 1 September, the new lyrikline is up and running!

Many people helped to bring the new site into life and many people came to celebrate with us and followed the relaunch event at c-base in Berlin or online via live stream. For all who couldn’t be there or want to relive the event here’s a little summary.

Ready? Go!

What ingredients does an event need that celebrates the new lyrikline? Next to having a look into what is new, there should be the elements that make lyrikline the living project that it is – poets, users, national partners, voices, languages, poems and translations. We tried to add a bit of it all and stir well…

The event was opened by our two charming presenters, Joel Scott of Australian partner organisation The Red Room Company and Per Bergström who is the Swedish partner with Rámus förlag. Many other local lyrikline partners
sent their video greetings or organised relaunch happenings in their countries


Heiko Strunk speaking about the new website (© gezett)

Heiko Strunk, who managed the project right from its start in 1999 and masterminded the website relaunch, gave us a showcase tour of the site and introduced all the new features.

So, what’s new?

To mention all the new things in detail would extend poetry length by bar. Best go and have a look! But here are some of the essentials…

Navigation languages:

Next to the five existing languages to navigate the site which were Arabic, English, French, German, and Slovenian there are four new languages: Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Start page:

The new site opens new ways to access the content of lyrikline so the users don’t get lost amidst the 900 poets, 8,000 poems, 11,000 translations or 60 languages of poetry. Next to thematic teasers, the start page offers a radio like theme stream, recommends poems or poets to discover and informs about new content. From the main menu you can now select poets not only from A-Z or by languages but also by countries and you can browse the site by poems also, e.g. many poems can be found by categories like humorous poetry or issues like alcohol & drugs and many more everyday life topics.

Search & Community:

Have a look at the new design of the poem page, lean back on your couch after you selected „listen to all poems“ by your favourite poet or find the needle in the hay by using the new search and its dozen refinement options. Moreover, you can remember content, create your own lists or explore what other users like by becoming a member of the community.

Whatever access point you start from to explore poetry on lyrikline you’ll be able to find all the six poets who performed at the relaunch event on stage in Berlin, be it Finnish poet Helena Sinervo or Norwegian Simen Hagerup, who were both published on the site during the live event, Els Moors from Belgium, Pedro Sena-Lino from Portugal or the German poets Steffen Popp and Jan Wagner. Since the latter is the most translated poet on lyrikline his poem champignons was read on stage in the languages of all the present poets.

Can you hear me?


google hangouts session: Andrej Hocevar waiting in Ljubljana

To give the lyrikline users the chance to follow the event via online streaming was a main aim since lyrikline is a web project and its main audience is sitting at a computer and not in front of a stage. Another idea was to establish live video connections to our partners and to poets in Nigeria, Russia and Slovenia during the event. In the end this did not go as well as we hoped and not nearly as well as it did when we ‘practised’ two weeks before, meeting in our first google hangouts session to check if we can all hear and see each other. At least we could hear Russian poet Linor Goralik read a poem in Moscow that night, but due to technical problems, the session sadly hardly worked and there was a lot of desperate asking „Can you hear me?“  This photo of a waiting Andrej Hocevar in Slovenia portraits the unlucky attempt. The more we’d like to thank the patient poets Linor Goralik in Russia and Benson Eluma in Nigeria and the partners Andrej Hocevar, Dmitry Kuzmin and Remi Raji who put a lot of time and effort in this. It’s a shame it did not really properly.

Messages from Space

Other connections to the outer world were more successful. It was fun to read what Julià Florit and Thomas Andersson, the partners from Catalonia and Sweden wrote while they took over our lyrikline facebook and twitter accounts to post some impressions of the event. The two of them and poet Els Moors also formed the jury that selected their favourite „space poems“ which were sent for the relaunch by users answering an open call. The space topic was inspired by the event venue, the c-base „space station“ in Berlin which is an association of IT activists and their headquarter was a great place for the lyrikline relaunch event.

literaturWERKstatt berlin

Left: the two presenters Joel and Per, right: Julià and Thomas connecting to the outer world (© gezett)

We’re happy that with the relaunch, this new era of lyrikline has finally started. It’ll certainly take a good while before all the little bugs left on the new site will be found and fixed. Continuously, more and more poems will be sorted into the categories, more new poets will be published and ideas for new start page teasers will have to be found. It is, as it was, work in progress so stay tuned and visit the new site every now and then.

Thank you all for coming to the relaunch event, for watching it online or for following the whereabouts of lyrikline!

The Anniversary Week Chain Poem

10 Jahre Lyrikline

For the final event of lyrikline’s anniversary week we asked the poets who read on Oct31 whether they’d like to write a chain poem together in the weeks before the event and present it on stage together. Six of the poets took part in this project: Daniel Samoilovich (Argentina), Babangoni Chisale (Malawi), Lutz Seiler (Germany), Remi Raji (Nigeria), Elke Erb (Germany), and Thomas Möhlmann (The Netherlands).

We have drawn the order of the poets by lot. Each of them wrote 5 lines and sent them, together with all the previous lines, to the next one. The poets decided to go for a second round with Lutz Seiler closing the circle on Oct30. Everyone was free to write in the languages of their choice. Here is the result of six weeks of poetic exchange (including the German/English translations in Italic):


1    Daniel Samoilovich

A root of heliotrope on Mars
produced a siren on the Moon.
There is a noisy waking up
of the dominoes knocked over
in triumph on the table.

Die Wurzel einer Sonnenwende auf dem Mars
schuf eine Sirene auf dem Mond.
Lautes Erwachen
der Dominosteine, triumphierend
angestoßen auf dem Tisch.

2    Babangoni Chisale

This small world
Multitude queue for justice, peace and fairness
Decision makers unconcerned
Unconsciousness of the masters pinches servant’s souls
But life is worthwhile with justice, equity and fairness

Diese kleine Welt
Menge steht Schlange für Gerechtigkeit, Frieden und Fairness
Gleichgültige Entscheider
Besinnungslosigkeit der Herren quält die Seelen der Knechte
Doch mit Gerechtigkeit, Gleichheit und Fairness lohnt Leben die Mühe.

3    Lutz Seiler

aber zuerst – ein kriegsherbst, wenn die dinge schon
von einem nerv durchzogen sind, entzündet an der luft. die treibjagd
holt über dem acker die schwerkraft
der gleise entfernungen schrumpfen & wer gerade unterwegs
gewesen ist, verschwindet in seinen gedanken

but first – a wartime autumn, when things were already
run through by a nerve, kindled on the air. the hunt
fetches the gravity of the tracks across
the field distances shrink & whoever was already on
the way, disappears in his thoughts

4    Remi Raji

There is a noisy waking in the silence…
Men walk in the thickets of their thoughts
Some blessed to be thorns, some cursed to thrive.
The world runs a race on crooked limbs
And one deaf foot does not tell the other.

Da ist ein lautes Erwachen in der Stille…
Menschen wandern im Dickicht ihrer Gedanken
Einige gesegnet Dornen zu werden, andere verflucht zum Blühen.
Die Welt im Wettlauf auf gebeugten Gliedern
Und ein tauber Fuß erzählt nicht dem andern…

5    Elke Erb

Maria durch den Dornwald ging
und der Glaube versetzte die Berge
Wessen Ohr ein Herz hat
kann Geflüster hören
und Tauben gurren

Maria walks amid the thorn
and faith moved the mountains
Whose ears have a heart
may hear a whispher
and doves coo

6    Thomas Möhlmann

Roses on the thorns appear and I
thank god that you’re around to tell me
nothing’s wrong and I should simply raise
one foot after the other, keep on walking
even when the thorns start wearing roses

Aus den Dornen blühn Rosen und ich
danke Gott, dass du hier bist mir zu erklären
alles in Ordnung und ich soll nur einen Fuß
vor den anderen setzen, weitergehen, auch
wenn die Dornen beginnen Rosen zu tragen

7    Daniel Samoilovich
and cooings wearing doves.

und Gurren Tauben trägt.

8    Remi Raji

finally, the mountain will appear to you
as the happy path, the valley of dreams
you will walk, away from the war game, with me
into the new ceremonies of light and love.
Even the birds are singing differently, because of you.

Zuletzt wird der Berg dir als der frohe
Pfad erscheinen, das Tal der Träume
du wirst gehen, aus dem Kriegsspiel, mit mir
in die neuen Riten von Licht und Liebe.
Auch die Vögel singen anders, weil du.

9 Babangoni Chisale

In the thicket of desperation
Broken thoughts mingles with empty heart
Drilling anxiety, depression and marauding tears
AS construction of hope progressing
Patience heals the wounds and gouges a way through

In der Verzweiflung Dickicht
Mischen zerbrochene Gedanken sich mit leerem Herzen
Nagender Furcht, Depression und marodierenden Tränen
Als ein Konstrukt nicht endender Hoffnung
Heilt Geduld die Wunden und bahnt einen Weg

10 Elke Erb

Wie die Verzweiflung das Dickicht hat,
so hat das Tal Berg und Berg.
Die Berge aber, sieht es, haben einander.
Wer sprechen kann, kann sich zweifellos fragen,
ob das Leiden das Leiden heilt.

As desperation has the thicket,
so the valley has mountain and mountain
But the mountains, it sees, have each other.
Whoever can speak can ask themselves without a doubt,
whether suffering heals suffering.

11    Thomas Möhlmann

So like snowballs I throw new pain
at you, it’s only medicine my dear,
like two giant mercies, like two marble
mountain tops gazing at each other, like
nothing’s wrong: I should simply raise one foot.

Werfe ich so neuen Schmerz wie Schneebälle
auf dich, es ist nur, Liebe, Medizin,
wie zwei gigantische Gnaden, wie zwei marmorne
Berggipfel die einander anstarren, wie
alles in Ordnung: Ich soll nur einen Fuß –

12    Lutz Seiler

über die täler und berge redest du nicht wie
das licht über die vögel spricht. aber auch draussen
war etwas wie drinnen, unter dem fenster
die strasse herunter gewunkene lieder, sie sagen:
wir hätten das bein an die zeit gebunden

of the valleys and mountains you do not speak like
the light speaks of the birds. but then outside
something met the inside, under the window
songs beckoned down the street, they say:
we tied our legs up to time

Translations by: Steffen Popp, Lutz Seiler, Daniel Samoilovich, Juliane Otto, Melita Aleksa, Marisa Pettit

10 Jahre Lyrikline

LIVE STREAM of the final anniversary event!!!

Follow the closing ceremony on Oct 31 at 8pm CET via live video stream on or on this static page

With the poets: Nicole Brossard (Québec), Babangoni wawa Chisale (Malawi), Bei Ling (China), Elke Erb (Germany), Nikola Madzirov (Macedonia), Thomas Möhlmann (Netherlands), Remi Raji (Nigeria), Daniel Samoilovich (Argentina), Lutz Seiler (Germany)

Have your say on CHAT & TWITTER

Nicole Brossard on
Elke Erb on
Thomas Möhlmann on
Lutz Seiler on

web event realised