Syl Cheney-Coker is generally regarded as Sierra Leone’s leading writer. Indeed, he is one of the most accomplished and challenging writers to have emerged from Africa in recent years and his works have deservedly won several literary awards. A versatile artist who excels in both poetry and prose and whose influences range from Africa, to Latin America , to Europe, he is arguably the most prolific, complex, popular and misunderstood poet to have come from Sierra Leone. His poems demonstrate a tendency to use poetry as vehicle to vent his emotions. He is also a literary artist who is as much concerned about the role of the artist in society as with the nature, purpose and function of art.
The first part of this volume consists of interviews with Cheney-Coker himself which not only shed considerable light on his own aesthetics and his views of the role of the writer and of literature, but also illuminate the works themselves, works which can, at times be challenging. On a general note, the essays by various hands in this anthology shed light on the work of a writer whose writing is reflective of his country's history, the struggles of both the individual and society to come to terms with the legacies of history, the social and cultural ambiguities occasioned by the history of slavery and colonialism, the destruction of indigenous systems and the resultant chaos and threat of violent revolution, and, more importantly, the attempts at reconstruction after a brutal ten year civil war.
Together these essays analyze Cheney-Coker’s exploration of gender relations and the forging of a new community identity in post-colonial African societies; the experimentation with new forms of writing the novel such as the epic novel; the exploration of several phases of history in the development of post-colonial societies in Africa; the role of cultural syncretism, language, myths and legends in the decolonization process; and the reconfiguration of history to subvert traditional generic elements of the historical novel in the recreation of new identities.
This collection of essays provides analyses of the works of Syl Cheney-Coker, as seen through the eyes of different scholars and critics, and offers a comprehensive portrait of the writing of a poet and novelist who is both challenging and fascinating.
ABOUT THE EDITORS
Eustace Palmerearned his PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Edinburgh. He taught for several years at Fourah Bay College where he was Chair of the English Department, Dean of the School of Arts, and Dean of Graduate Studies. He is regarded as one of the pioneer critics of African Literature. In addition to four novels, he has published five books and over sixty articles on English and African literatures. He was for several years Associate Editor of African Literature Today, and served as President of the African Literature Association from 2006 to 2007. Dr. Palmer currently teaches at Georgia College & State University, where he is Distinguished Professor of English and Coordinator of Africana Studies.
Ernest Cole, PhD is Associate Professor of English and Towsley Research Scholar at Hope College, Holland, Michigan, where he teaches Post-Colonial literature with an emphasis on Sub-Saharan Anglophone Africa, India and the Caribbean. Previously he had taught African literature at Fourah Bay College (1990-1996), Gambia College, Brikama (1996-2000) and the University of The Gambia (2000-2003). He has published articles and book reviews on Post-Colonial literature in Journal of African Literature Association (JALA) as well as book chapters in A Critical Introduction to Sierra Leonean Literature and African Cultures and Civilizations.
Literature, Literary Criticism/AFRICA