Poets of the younger generation

Posted by on 12/9/2005 10:30:25 AM
Post Comment Poets of the younger generation Nigeria

In the early 1980s a group of young writers appeared on the Nigerian literary scene advocating a new form of poetry. They included Odia Ofeimum, Harry Qaruba, Funso Aiyejina, Niyi Osundare, Ossie Enekwe, Tanure Ojaide and several others. They were all university-trained men in various professions including journalism, book pub lishing and university teaching. Many of them were former students or admirers of the modernist poets (in particular, Soyinka and dark), but were now openly in revolt against the poetic practice of their mentors. They complained about the obscurity, dif ficulty and excessive allusiveness of the poetry of Okigbo and Soyinka and alleged that such a poetic practice alienated the majority of the populace from poetry. They wanted to create a new age of simple, accessible poetry which would address major issues of society in a language understood by the common man, instead of the learned, tortuous and often convoluted verse of their teachers/mentors.

The most productive and most acclaimed mem bers of this new generation are Niyi Osundare and Tanure Ojaide. Niyi Osundare published several books of poetry, including Songs of the Marketplace (1983), Village Voices(1984), The Eye of the Earth (1986), Moon songs (1988) and Waiting Laughters (1990). Osundare is a committed poet who is con cerned about a social and moral revolution that will turn our world into a better place to live in. To this end, he is concerned not only with large political issues like Sharpeville, Hiroshima and Namibia, but also with crucial questions about the present state and the future of our Earth in both the literal and metaphoric senses. He is armed with fresh and vig orous imagery with which he waxes lyrical and even sometimes mellifluous poems, whether he is writing about three rocks of his native village, probing our conscience on moral issues, or simply meditating on the moon, time, or the idea of simply waiting. Ojaide's poetry is in many ways similar to Osundare's. Both poets draw on the oral tradition for inspiration and specific verbal effects. Ojaide too published several books of poetry, including, Children of Iroko (1973), Labyrinths of the Delta (1986), The Eagle's Vision (1987), The Endless Song (1989), The Fate of the Vultures and Other Poems(1990) and The Blood of Peace(1991). The poetry ranges from the ritual verse of children of Iroko to indictment and satire in The Fate of Vultures and Other Poems. Ojaide's poetry is quite often topical with criticisms, overt or subtle, of Nigerian leaders and regimes, civilian and military, for their corruption, insensitivity, and the imposition of draconian laws on the populace.

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