17 August 2009

looking forward, looking back...

Kudos to the complete review -- one of the great literary blogs to my thinking if for no other reason than the breadth of its daily coverage -- for its 17 August 2009 posting highlighting Onukwube Ofoelue's remembrance of Christopher Okigbo in Nigeria's Daily Sun.

It's more an overview of his life than anything else, only lightly touching on his poetry. But any thoughtful consideration of poetry is worth a read. And it's well worth being reminded of the existence of the Christopher Okigbo Foundation (though it's unclear where "the Okigbo Collection" as its referred to on the Foundation's website is currently held, or whether it's accessible; and I can find neither hide nor hair of Elegy of Twilight the collection of unpublished verse promised before the end of 2006).

For its part, the complete review also has a cursory review of Okigbo's Labyrinths available.

The pump was primed, though, and when I surfed through the next site for the latest news from Nigeria I was again pleasantly struck to read an article on a yet another younger Nigerian poet new to me (surprise, surprise!!): Ikeogu Oke.

The article -- "A poet of feeling and thought" (my goodness, but that's rather a commonplace, no? even rather redundant; and it's clear from the piece that Oke would concur) -- is more Oke in his own words than anything else. And the "Oke demurs when described as a fan of Chinua Achebe, but offers this" is an ouch moment if I ever read one.

The piece got me looking to see if I could find more on his latest work (the release of which inspired the piece): Salutes Without Guns. Any luck? No.

I found this undated publishers announcement referring to Oke's book (among others), which led me to the publisher's website which...

Leads me nowhere. His work doesn't show up in the catalog. And the contact us page is "Under Update".

And this is the maddening thing about the field. To my thinking. An endless source of frustration. And I am a small player in this, and perhaps the least important. It's less important that I am able to find the work then, say, Nigerian readers, or Kenyan readers, or... Well, hell, let's just stick to Nigeria for the moment. As Oke points out in another piece in the Nigerian Tribune online, "we need to make books attractive, accessible and affordable".

Good luck finding a copy. If you do, let me know how you did it. And where you found it. And how it reads.

Who controls African literature?
Surely it isn't the authors themselves. But then again, they never have...

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