New African Poetry: An Anthology (Three Continents Ser)

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9780894108914: New African Poetry: An Anthology (Three Continents Ser)

This anthology presents the voices of a new generation of African poets, drawn from across the continent and representing a wide range of themes, styles and ideologies. These contemporary voices have been shaped in the realities of postcolonial Africa from the mid-1970s to the end of the 1990s.

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From Publishers Weekly:

This provocative yet unsatisfying anthology presents what the editors call a "Third Generation" of African poets, those who came of age after their nations' independence. Of 62 poets from 23 countries, a plurality write in English; others appear in translation from Arabic, Portugese and French. Some now live in America and Europe; few enjoy reputations outside Africa. (One exception is Malawi's Jack Mapanje.) Some readers will scan this volume looking for news about daily life, culture and politics in these writers' states and landscapes. Other readers will seek original, interesting poems, in familiar or entirely unfamiliar genres and forms. Both kinds of readers will find some gems and many more letdowns. A Cape Verdean poet hopes "to read my revelries before they fade behind twilight clouds"; a writer from Ghana promises his enemies, "on wings of flames we'll rise... and rain rumours of blood/ upon their festive dreams." Zindzi Mandela (daughter of Nelson) has four poems here: one begins "There's an unknown river in Soweto/ some say it flows with blood/ others say it flows with tears." Both editors include their own poetry: Sallah's two-page "Television as God" explains that "In America television is a god/ Therapeutic to ailing hearts." Many poems protest deprivation, violence and misgovernment; they may be understood as contributions to political struggles, but the frequent clich s make them hard to enjoy. Mapanje's bitterly fluent, detail-conscious work stands among the volume's highlights. Other bright spots come from Musaemura Zimunya, whose anecdotes detail everyday need in Zimbabwe; from Sierra Leone's fiercely compelling Syl Cheney-Coker; and from Ghanian Kojo Laing, whose oration-cum-satire "I Am the Freshly Dead Husband" converts a funeral into a mordant sexual apocalypse. A book of those four poets' work would be something to treasure. (Oct.)

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

This anthology of "new" African poetry presents a body of valuable poetry inaccessible to readers in the West. Both respected poets, editors Ojaide (Nigeria) and Sallah (Gambia) group poets by region: nine poets from Central and East Africa; nine poets from North Africa; 14 poets from Southern Africa; and 30 poets from West Africa. Most of these 62 well-educated postcolonial poets more willingly embrace the ancestral "oratory" tradition of the African continent than poets with a Western literary orientation of the era of Leopold Senghor and Wole Soyinka. Instead of anti-colonialism, these poets focus on women's roles, rural life, and the need for creativity despite economic hardships. Realistic criticism of patriarchies and traditional taboos arises from a strong attachment to homeland. Overall, regional diversity seems to have replaced defensiveness of Pan-African unity. While poetry of Central, East, and West Africa is lively and plainspoken, there are only a handful of Arabic-oriented poems from North Africa, and the poetry of Southern Africa mostly confronts the scourge of apartheid. "Agents of change," these forward-looking and energetic poems reveal that new African poets "sing of a world reshaped."AFrank Allen, Northampton Community Coll., Tannersville, PA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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