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Just read your piece. I consider it a very welcome intervention, especially against the background of the copious pontifications of some local reviewers who deem any mention of ‘death’ or my preferred word, ‘endsong’, actually indicates that you are doing a suicide note! After seventeen years of writing and publishing ‘Endsong’ and ‘A Writer’s Pains’ (the latter being your own serialised sequence) in “The Nigerian Tribune” we are still here theorising ‘abjection’. The point is that poetry, if it’s to be worth anything, must go beyond nonce concerns to name the paradox at the heart of life. Mario Vergas Ilosa, the Peruvian novelist, hit the point when he stated in Death in the Andes, “There is so much death in the Andes because there's so much life...” Great poetry, like the best of Greek tragedy, must help us to come to the true understanding of this existential fundamental, and assist us to purge ourselves of our delusions of grandeur towards the recognition of the humanity in each one of us. The last point is pertinent notwithstanding all the towering castles (ideological, dogmatic, racial, gender, religious, class etc) we build in the air to confuse the less discerning. This paradox remains. It’s the poet’s business to remind us all about this. And here I mean ‘the poet’, not with any prefixes, like the ‘political’, ‘feminist’, because the true poet is the consciousness of his universe. This essentially is at the core of Shakespeare's over 150 Sonnets to his boyfriend, and, same reason that would make Shakespeare proud to share same initials with our own WS: poetry and abjection, mutability and immutability in an eternal sparring session... The moral imperatives arising from a recognition of our humanity's core spiritual/existential dilemma are as diverse as the actors in the ring, and this is how it should be!

 

Shakespeare was never known to be an ‘activist’, literary or political, while Soyinka has endeared himself to all of us for his activism as well as for his sublime poetry and plays. But somehow what we have these days as literary reviews aspiring to be taken seriously as criticism, are automatic labelling, without any serious literary/critical intent. The book becomes the blurb writer's sales gimmickry.Every unfamiliar content that poses a challenge to our pseudo-critic is not worth the while of the inept reviewer posing like a pundit. Poetry that is supposed to ameliorate abjection is further encumbered by the abjection posed by the philistines playing the literary/cultural sentinel – please ignore the pun! It is important to have more of these clear-headed interventions in a forum like this, and even outside, to help deepen our understanding of our vocation as poets/critics. And I will leave you with a quote from one of my poems (that is if you have not banned quotations!):

 

 “The quest for the light

Is no light matter…”

 

Chiedu Ezeanah

Nigeria

 

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Sentinel Poetry (Online) #51   ISSN 1479-425X

THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF POETRY & GRAPHICS...since December 2002

Editor-in-Chief: Amatoritsero Ede

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