Professional poets of the African tradition


The traditional akewi makes up praise names to describe the elephant. He has no message to convey accessible or obscure. We already know everything he tells us about elephants and we are not looking for new information. Despite its clarity, his language is totally inventive and almost untranslatable. He creates novelty not in what he says but in his way of saying it. He creates in fact only to the extent in which the style of the saying strips the film of familiarity away from the subject and brings the reader up close to an obscene density of experience that is never tiffany necklaces fully exhausted.

essentially, he makes up a series of hyperboles, each phrase an exclamation, an exorcist's shout, a semantic coinage new minted, to invoke the unknown presence. The elephant of the poem is an imaginative creation: oro (doom), ogiyan (monster), oni'gbo (forester), ogbologbo adete (ancient leper), iku (death), Laaye, Otiko, oriiribobo, odudu-moramora. The list is potentially endless in the tiffany accessories search for expressive inventions to gesture at the brute nameless fact that is always far beyond the limitations of its names.

Lexical and semantic forms break down in the attempt to convey the enormity and mystery of the real. mallarmé did not go far enough. He needed to postulate that even when the poet wishes to give the experience of a known object, he could not do so by tiffany rings naming it. Professional poets of the African tradition, as Okigbo heard and read them, were technically not much different from eliot and the French symbolists. Those who praised Okigbo's verse pamphleteering during the 1966 crisis clearly thought that he valued the oriki and the town crier highly. But that was not the case. The craft of the traditional artisan in words falls within the category of speech craft that Okigbo dismissed as "platform poetry" in the interview that he gave to marjory Whitelaw. To examine Okigbo's approach to his vocation in mid 1966, we turn now to the last major poem he wrote at the time, "elegy of the Wind."

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