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Poets of West Africa in English workshop

This shows the poems in just one one workshop. To see all the poems on Neopoet, go to the stream. Or go to the workshop page itself, where you can find out more about the syllabus.

The casualties are not only those who are dead.
They are well out of it.
The casualties are not only those who are dead.
Though they await burial by installment.
The casualties are not only those who are lost
Persons or property, hard as it is
To grope for a touch that some
May not know is not there.
The casualties are not only those led away by night.
The cell is a cruel place, sometimes a haven.
No where as absolute as the grave.
The casualties are not only those who started

Earth will not share the rafter's envy; dung floors
Break, not the gecko's slight skin, but its fall
Taste this soil for death and plumb her deep for life

As this yam, wholly earthed, yet a living tuber
To the warmth of waters, earthed as springs
As roots of baobab, as the hearth.

The air will not deny you. Like a top
Spin you on the navel of the storm, for the hoe
That roots the forests plows a path for squirrels.

My apparition rose from the fall of lead,
Declared, ' l am a civilian.'It only served
To aggravate your fright .For how could I
Have risen , a being of this world, in that hour
Of impartial death! And I thought also; nor is
Your quarrel of this world.

Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka

From Eumolpus-
(To introduce this workshop, I though it might be good to start with a famous poem (I think!) by Soyinka, first African to win the Nobel Prize and legendary for 50 years. I have reproduced the poem as written.
Craft-wise, what I like about this poem is the easy access to the poem through a dramatic incident,

Abiku
Wanderer child. It is the same child who dies and returns again and again to plague the mother.
-Yoruba belief

In vain your bangles cast
Charmed circles at my feet
I am Abiku, calling for the first
And repeated time.

Must I weep for goats and cowries
For palm oil and sprinkled ask?
Yams do not sprout amulets
To earth Abiku's limbs.

So when the snail is burnt in his shell,
Whet the heated fragment, brand me
Deeply on the breast - you must know him
When Abiku calls again.

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