25 April 2008

blogging the ala: new copperfield author reading

A short trek from the dorm to a small local bookshop -- New Copperfield's Book Service -- on Macomb's courthouse square (in the beginnings of slight spring thunderstorm). A slight delay as the waters, audience, and authors gather...

4:32 pm -- Well, it's a bit more than a slight storm...

4:38 pm -- Tanure Ojaide begins. His focus in recent years has been on the environment and ecology of the Niger Delta. Also trying to make his poetry more accessible (though without specifying the inaccessibility he's writing against).

4:42 pm -- Up on his feet; we stay seated. Call and response: "Come and see" / "American wonder".

4:44 pm -- And one from The Tale of the Harmattan with more attention to form... "Remembering" in couplets.

4:48 pm -- Veronique Tadjo is up next, juggling fiction and poetry. From Cote d'Ivoire but now in South Africa. Reading from Blind Kingdom - her newly translated novel. There's an otherworldly, mythical striving in the piece (Tadjo noted it as "apocalyptic") that feels like later Armah, and is ultimately untethered. And leaves me... well, just leaves me.

4:58 pm -- And Niyi Osundare returns. Teacher, poet (though no clear distinction for him between performer and audience). And up on his feet with a song for all.

5:06 pm -- Such a poet, such a performer: "people are my clothes". His whole body; he wraps the clothes around him, one hand holding the book, the other wrapping and sweeping and wagging a finger at all. And his voice bounces up and down and hits percussive note, and picks up a bit of song, and then back to "just" reading.

5:10 pm -- "Our Earth Will Not Die" from The Eye of the Earth. There is, Osundare says, a stubbornly optimistic note to it -- which is not a bad way of characterizing much of his verse. Which is also one of the reasons I feel his poetry to be so powerful. Which is saying something for a cynic like myself.

5:14 pm -- Back to prose with Sefi Atta.

5:20 pm -- And so the reading ends...

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