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Africa World Press & The Red Sea Press

THE OIL LAMP: Poems, by Ogaga Ifowodo


THE OIL LAMP: Poems, by Ogaga Ifowodo


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Oil is my curse, oil is our doom.Where are my children? Where is my husband?Ashes and bones, ashes and bones.

So sings a 90-year-old widow whose husband fell off an oilrig and drowned. The unending carnage in the poet’s native Niger Delta provides a frame with which Ogaga Ifowodo seeks to mine meaning out of the patently absurd. The poems here are fragments out of the deluge. Born of complex and diverse registers, they speak with a voice that is robustly universal yet rooted in local lore. The public idiom of Udje performance poetry sits comfortably with a private and intimate rhetoric to generate a tension that is resolved in a muscular, fighting poetry that startles with lyric tenderness.

-Ike Okonta
University of California, Berkeley, co-author of Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights and Oil


“With Madiba, which centers on an impressive sonnet sequence dedicated to Nelson Mandela, Ifowodo has created a weighty and compelling contribution to world literature.”

-Bridget Meeds
Ithaca Times

“Ogaga Ifowodo captures the angst, the failed hopes and the glaring despair of his generation. His voice is firm and confident and his facility with the language is a testament not just to his talent, but to his well-honed craft.”

-Toni Kan
The Guardian and ThisDay

OGAGA IFOWODO has previously published Homeland & Other Poems, and Madiba which won the ANA/Cadbury poetry prize. A recipient of the Barbara-Goldsmith Freedom-to-Write award of the US PEN Centre, he holds an MFA from Cornell and is a fellow of the Iowa Writing Program.


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