This volume contains poems from 1966 to 1989. "A Shuttle in the Crypt", written while Soyinka was in prison, maps out the course trodden by a mind under solitary confinement. "Idanre", a poem on the creation myth of Ogun, was written for the Commonwealth Arts Festival, while "Mandela's Earth" presents a selection of poems that are of searing urgency.
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(198mm x 129mm x 18mm)
Methuen Publishing Ltd
Publisher: Methuen Publishing Ltd
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
From this Nobel Prize-winning poet comes a compilation of three of his collections, Idanre, A Shuttle in the Crypt and Mandela's Earth, originally published in 1967, 1972 and 1989 respectively. Linking the three collections is Soyinka's ebullient use of words and images which come tumbling out across the page to bombard the senses with a powerful mix of colours, sounds and smells. Darker themes are those of death and oppression which find different voices as the poet's style changes subtly with the passage of time. Idanre has as its main theme the myth of Ogun, the Yoruba god of iron, and the rituals and beliefs associated with him. The poet paints a vivid picture of vast African landscapes as he describes 'bled horizons' and 'the chaste hide of the sky'. Interspersed between these poems are those about more personal subjects such as 'To my first white hairs' and a more measured and sensitive section, 'For Women'. A Shuttle in the Crypt is born out of Soyinka's experience of solitary confinement in prison, with compositions such as 'Conversation at night with a cockroach' and 'A cobweb's touch in the dark'. The preface, written in prose every bit as beautiful as the poetry, helps us to understand that experience as it tells of 'the landscape of the loss of human contact' and laments the 'unchanging nature of humanity'. A defiant and more accessible style characterizes Mandela's Earth. The experience of ordinary oppressed Africans is compared with that of their leaders, in particular the towering personality of Mandela, in such passages as: 'Utterances flung like lead shot will never/Forge the chain mail of our collective will./Only the salt of sweat-bathed palms/Pressed in anger will corrode/These prison bars.' With their fluidity of language and plethora of unusual images and metaphors, these poems provide a challenging read but one which will reward those willing to persevere. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Wole Soyinda
Wole Soyinka - playwright, novelist, poet and polemical essayist - was born in Nigeria in 1934. Educated there and at Leeds University, he worked in the British theatre before returning to West Africa in 1960. Soyinka's career as a political activist in exile is inseparable from his writing which has earned him world-wide acclaim. In 1986 he became the first African writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is now Woodruff Professor of the Arts at Emory University, Atlanta.