Saturday, April 29, 2006

chinua achebe's collected poems

Reviewing Chinua Achebe's Collected Poems, Maya Jaggi writes:

Much of Achebe's poetry reflects both the searing disillusionment of this era, and his own peculiar wisdom and transcendance. Several poems, Achebe writes by way of preface, "surged from the depths to bring pain-soaked solace in the breach and darkness of civil war" - a fact underlined by two of the book's sections: Poems About War, and Poems Not About War. His failure to persuade others against violence is reflected in "1966", written just after the quelling of Biafran secession, in which he sees the "absentminded" descent into war as a "diamond-tipped drill point" delving towards the "rare artesian hatred / that once squirted warm / blood in God's face / confirming His first / disappointment in Eden". The wartime death of Achebe's best friend, the poet Christopher Okigbo, is reflected in a haunting poem in Igbo, translated here as "A Wake for Okigbo", which elaborates an Igbo dirge.

Jaggi is a judge of this year's Caine Prize. Read the review here.

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