Friday 8 July 2011

Eight Young Nigerian Poets Whose Poems Delight

There are certain everyday things that make you despair of Nigeria (like the incorrigible craze for acquisitiveness by the ruling political oligarchs), but then there are also certain things that make your heart race around your chest with joy. Yes, my heart often dances a makossa every time I read about literary activities in Nigeria; it shows that at least there is some green growth regardless of all the muck and rot of politics eroding the land.

I have been watching some contemporary younger Nigerian poets closely and reading their poems with a combined sense of wonder and delight. Now, well, these are not the very familiar big names you often run into in print and online. These poets are many and all home-based generally. A few have stood out from this throng, though. Quite distinctively.

And I strongly think these poets are destined to inspire and astound, that is, if they remain committed to this arduous craft they have embraced. To me, they are the Eight Young Nigerian Poets Whose Poems delight.


Dami Ajayi is a final year medical student. His first collection of poems, Clinical Blues, is scheduled to be published in 2012. His poems have appeared in Saraba Magazine, Sentinel Nigeria, IFEMED journal, Mapletree Literary Supplement and elsewhere.


All fools make pictures
But pictures are no memories,
They remain darkroom scams;
My mind surpasses every camera.

I’ve tried to touch good times twice
But they elude me, like swinging
Pendulums, cherry mangoes, physics.

So what are my options: Fantasies?
Grandiose ideations? playback video reality?
Or plain youthful CPR?

My thoughts wash in old houses
Fresh with coats of dust.
Torn settees and a creaking dining table
Offering gecko shit as breakfast.

Quick glances challenge cerebral bytes.
Where is the Grandfather clock
With a stainless scrotum, the clattering
Icicles of our curtains, the smell of boiling beans
On sawdust stove, the broken manual rewinder,
The June 12 season?

Emmanuel Samson (E. S. Abdalmasih) is an unpublished poet, who started trying out his hand at writing poetry in late 2007 but became frustrated and quit early 2009, then resumed mid 2010 (while he was recuperating -- for 14 months -- from a compound fracture he had sustained on his left leg's tibia, after he came out of a ghastly automobile accident on March 21, 2010) and since then became serious with it.

That Part of You

That part of you,
That lives inside me,
I know the texture of it—
It sings for me—
It smells of jasmine;
My soul hankers for it.

I know the shape of it—
The “O” of lips teeming with kiss,
A full moon, whose light
Dissolves the walls of darkness
That separates you from me,
Guiding me you-ward.

Itunu Akande, a graduate student from electronics and electrical engineering, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has some of his works published in Saraba magazine, Ife Festival of Poetry and Avant-garde Poetry anthologies. He is currently working on a one-act play and a collection of poetry.

Bridge Blues 7 (An Eastern Rising)

Now the day is oval
And where there are minions' flames
Shadows hiss by aging bricks.
I hear Godward cries
Lost to staggering starlight
Through a sheet of incensed clouds
Some other gods in an armored square
Shivering behind cold bars.
The night draws nigh and grey
Blackening handful notes of maiden joys
All things and their seasons shrivel into dust
But in death a palsied hope.
In surrender, no conquest lies
Only light that strays and fades and never returns.
All glories be vain
Awake, awake still
Shadows of the evening mists
If to emptiness of peace
And vanities of conceived beauties.
Awake, awake still
These burning lamps are nothing like the sun.
Bless the sun
Let its tinsel wings come bear you home
Renewing times by a cleansing tide
Stilled across the dusty night.

Richard Ali is a lawyer and editor of the Sentinel Nigeria Magazine. He is presently working on his debut novel, City of Memories and a debut collection of poems. His work has been published in the African Writing Journal {vol. 4 & 8} and in the Prosopisia Journal.

Remedios: A Marquezade

There you are at the corner of my eyes
In the swirl of a crowd, haunting the briefness
Of my glance – you the memory of Samarian thirsts
Siren shape, your hair garlanded with poppies

Stretch of lines seeking a spell to capture in time
A private nostalgia; the sun of me who espies
A dream lily, white amidst the colorful; the sun of me
Who knows you’ll be gone by dawn’s keeping

Remedios! We have danced on the sides of rolling dice
And though my ray liberates a second of symmetry
The larger tune riffles us to earth’s ends – I go also
But it isn’t my departure I mourn.

Emmanuel Iduma holds a degree in Law and is the Managing Editor and Co-Publisher of Saraba, where his poems have appeared, as well as in ITCH and New Black Magazine. He has recently completed a novel, Farad, and would begin work on another in August.

The Lives of a Signpost

I was there when affinity caught up with magic
and the single coffee grew into our hearts;
Justice is the cruelest word
framing life into disjointed parameters
for men like us, and our love
that cannot be defined.

Let us stay, you and I
in the place where alcohol is the music
of teetotalers and juvenilia the cure
for aging, this life that is upon us.

There would be time for affliction,
the satirical fogs of memory, artlessness,
void, limbo.

And there would be time for open cities,
Colian tales of movement;
upon us are the changes of perception,
in the room where the critics come and go
talking of rewritten Ulysses and brainy books
and Africa and complaints.

And indeed there would be time
for affection, short nights,
women speaking of whiz-kids
bad teas, empty milk tins, culinary skills
and fraternity.

In the room where the critics come and go
speaking of Ulysses.

Do we dare disturb the watery presence
of Idoto, bad poets, copycats?
Yes, of course
(They will say: “see how far they’re going,
their convoluted selves and picture books”)

Do we dare disturb the watery universe with our presence?
Yes of course.

You know, we should listen to Giant Steps;
There are words we cannot speak,
and perfection that we ought to take away;
We have once been to the witch of Endor,
You remember?

This is time to murder and create
this bitch of a life, this botched creativity
and Eliot, and a million castaways
whose interest time shall reverse;
Nonetheless, time for me and time for you
we go to the evening of our lives
there is a window-pane waiting.

Do we dare?
Yes, of course.

We are 25 and younger;
This time the road turns and we are signposts.

In the room where the critics come and go
speaking of Ulysses

Gimba Kakanda is the author of the poetry collection, Safari Pants and is currently polishing his debut novel, Night Book. His poems have appeared in various print and electronic media, including the Indian journal, Prosopisia: An International Journal of Poetry and Creativity (Vol. III No. 1, 2010).

Dream Chase

So many cowries
Thrown onto wandering tides
To slower the sinking grins of contentment…

So many sojourns
Hurriedly drained in darkness
To machete the ropes of ancestry…

So many neighbours’ poultry
Stolen to dress the gods
That our dreams flow no coarse course…

So many cows
Lamed in our selfish morrow-darting
To halt the mooing of our barrenness…

So many seeds sown
In pyramid-heaps of a virgin life
To satiate our emptied silos…

…vamoose in a flicker of sun-lid
At the yawning wake of germination

We cry blood
For the ripe wind in tomorrow
Tomorrow that never comes
When our cries ambush the draped moat
Our beaten contingency gets bandaged by salads

There’s tomorrow

And when the tomorrow never comes
They toast
In a parliamentary breath

There’s another tomorrow after tomorrow

So much so many times
Our dreams slump
In the arm-pit of mirage

Yemi Soneye was a winner in the 2010 StoryTime One Sentence Short Story Competition and is working on his first poetry book, Guarded Drifts. His works have appeared in Sentinel Nigeria, The New Black Magazine, Istanbul Literary Review, Saraba Magazine, Palapala Magazine, etc.

The Old Beverage Truck

Though her engine and body
had been worn by the long walks
between here and the big town,
the old Beverage Truck still comes

Crying and heaving louder than
any music of maternity down
the hill, with the crated tidings
to our shop that serves the world

In searching for where to pause
for a nap, she gusts out black bits
that leave straight for our insides;
enwrapping our aches and blowing
out in refreshing coughs and sneezes

Violence of the ignition and jerks
of our arms wake her gently and she leaves
but before she mixes with the distance, our
purse would have started jingling as shop
increases with contented throats!

Senator Iyere Ihenyen is the author of Colourless Rainbow. He participated in the British Council Crossing Borders Workshop in 2006 and was featured by Literatur ad Art, Barcelona, as a voice to watch. He is currently working on his second volume of poetry centred on HIV/AIDS.

A Poem Written by God

I long to write a poem on the walls of your heart, that whenever your heart beats,
you will feel the throbs of my love,
steaming beyond the flames of February fourteen.

But whenever my eyes fall on yours,
Your eyes gleaming on my mobile wallpaper,
Heightened hills of ignited imaginations break into dust, waterfalls of brimming emotions lean to a slithering drop,

Because what I see before me
Is a work of poetry,
of art, of nature, of perfection, of immortality -
my muse is too bemused to mould your being
with the clay of human hands, the mortality of human desires, of human

The word of God has become flesh in you,
Would you dwell inside my heart so true,
For I now long to write on your lips with a kiss,
You're a poem written by God in bliss.


  1. A very pat list. Great poems.

  2. Thanks, KT. Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. There were really some good poems, and a joy to see familiar faces. Thanks Uche.

  4. u r welcome, our great Whitman!

  5. It was pure bliss moving from one poem to the other. A weekend delight that lingers for a lifetime. I am a fan of their work, but reading them all in one place, is near orgasmic! The future is insured no doubt!

  6. Nice comprehensive list and beautiful poems too, but I don't see one of my delightful poets here: Tee Akindele. First time I read one of his poems, I had goose bumps.

  7. I actually read the poems out loud and pretended had an audience in front of me, lol. I couldn't choose which was better if asked to. Now think I may go write me a poem :)

  8. @House of a Million Minds, thanks. I agree with you

    @Laradaniels, thanks a lot. Will have to check Tee Akindele out

    @Naomi Lucas, thanks for dropping by

  9. Some cool poets to watch out for. Thanks for sharing, Uche.

  10. u r welcome, as usual. KT. have a splendid weekend...

  11. A good list you have made there. The poems are good and delightful. I could digest well Ajayi's Celluloid out of the eight poems. May be that's just because he took time in dissecting it when using it as a reference in his talk at Saraba Workshops some months ago.
    A refreshing list this really is.

  12. Uche Umez, it looks like there are no lady poets that delight you with their poetry. Or, are you going to extend the list and make it more inclusive?