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The Heinemann Book of African Poetry in English (African Writers Series)

The Heinemann Book of African Poetry in EnglishThe Heinemann Book of African Poetry in English by Adewale Maya-Pearce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up this book at some used book sale, not sure where. It is a 1990 anthology of various African poets who write in English. The oldest poet included was born in 1924 and the youngest in 1961. Many of them were not poets I had read before. The most famous name included is Wole Soyinka, most were unfamiliar to me.

As one would expect, I found some of the poems to be alien, others to be deeply engaging. Many were political. Many dealt with war and poverty. There weren't many nature poems, though natural themes appeared in many of them.

The most beautiful poem in the book was by the Ghanaian poet Kojo Laing; it is entitled "One hundred lines for the coast" and is much too long to include in its entirety. Here are the opening lines:

Grown old are these strong elements of tragedy,
the strength the elephant's head brings to a whole country,
bright centuries of betrayal for a noon of funerals,
and the dead in their dramatic drums and dances,
congregating in deserted beaches full of the roars of sorrow,
and these broad cliffs holding the sea in granite embrace,
touching redeemed countries amazed and tired far beyond the shores,
slicing the receding silence with large harmonies large death,
and all the commotion of histories deeper for being beyond discovery,
all the rhythm of time trapped in giant webs, terrible and kind,
and grown old without wisdom by generations of dire disconnection.

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