"Always light-hearted and yet philosophical, Taban lo Liyong's poetry flows effortlessly and belies the public mistrust of modern African poetry as academic, dry, and rigid. In his recent creative outburst, the poet opens technical and thematic frontiers that energize the modern African poetic tradition. lo Liyong's poetry is a fresh harvest of wit, humor, and word-play that any reader will feel happy to indulge in."
--Tanure Ojaide, Professor of African-American and African Studies, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and author of Great Boys: An African Childhood (AWP, 1998)
"lo Liyong's suspicion of conventional thinking and standard attitudes is obvious in almost everything he writes... While his poetry is present-oriented, indeed even future-oriented, his poems draw on tradition, not only through references to traditional characters and events and in his fable-like use of animals, but also in their form. He uses epigrams that are close to riddles, or he tells moral lessons, often in long "epicaresque" narratives using to the full the oral devices of repetitions and scansion, sometimes in balanced sentences that acquire the status of proverbs. lo Liyong is a thinker-poet [and] a teacher-poet. His use of paradoxes and his exclusiveness prompt the reader to an increased degree of aletness. His poems say exactly what readers expect them to say from the way they begin. ... lo Liyong is often bitingly, at times bitterly, ironical. But his irony, more wounded than wounding does not indicate detachment. In his concern for his native Sudan and for exploited communities all over the world he is a committed writer and political activist... Inspired both by traditional forms and by modern experiment, lo Liyong produces subtle and moving poems out of the pain and confusion of the community in which he lives."
--Christine Pagnoulle, in Contemporary Poets
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Taban lo Liyong was born in the Sudan and raised in Uganda. He was educated at Howard University, Honors Program, and is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. A prolific writer of poetry, fiction and literary and cultural criticism, Taban lo Liyong has the wide and deep educational background and sharp intellect to see clearly and comment succinctly on what has been going on in Africa within the last 50 years. His periods of teaching in international universities in Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Japan and currently the University of Venda, South Africa, have given him a unique opportunity to put African developments in their historical and contemporary world context. Of his poetry, lo Liyong says, "the period of introspection has arrived; personal introspection, communal introspection. Only through introspection can we appraise ourselves more exactly."