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The Promise of Hope: New and Selected Poems, 1964-2013 (African Poetry Book)by Kofi Awoonor
Synopses & Reviews
Kofi Awoonor, one of Ghanas most accomplished poets, had for almost half a century committed himself to teaching, political engagement, and the literary arts. The one constant that guided and shaped his many occupations and roles in life was poetry. The Promise of Hope is a beautifully edited collection of some of Awoonors most arresting work spanning almost fifty years.
Selected and edited by Awoonors friend and colleague Kofi Anyidoho, himself a prominent poet and academic in Ghana, The Promise of Hope contains much of Awoonors most recent unpublished poetry, along with many of his anthologized and classic poems. This engaging volume serves as a fitting contribution to the inaugural cohort of books in the African Poetry Book Series.
"In effect the national poet of Ghana, Awoonor (1935-2013) belongs to the first generation of African writers who grew up along with their countries; his verse from the 1960s integrates modernist sparseness with traditional icons and ceremonial forms, as in 'A Dirge': 'Our fathers, the hippo has overturned our canoe./ We come home/ Our guns point to the earth.' Awoonor became a professor of literature in Long Island; in 1975 returned to Ghana, where he was incarcerated for political reasons; and from 1984 to 1994 served as Ghana's ambassador to Brazil, to Cuba, and to the United Nations. His later verse (along with his prose, sparsely excerpted here) reflects all that experience, folding into its lines disillusion with the U.S.; determination and resistance in jail; and enthusiasm for an international revolutionary left, for 'commitments that will not wait.' Awoonor's sudden death — killed by terrorists who attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi — prompted tributes from across Africa and the African diaspora. His place in a tradition seems secure; the later poems may sound like public speeches, but the earlier work, towards the end of this big selection, remains valuable for its vivid attempts to make new, locally rooted forms. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Kofi Awoonor (1935–2013) was a diplomat and a professor of comparative literature at numerous universities, including the University of Ghana. He is the author of several volumes of poetry, including Night of My Blood; Ride Me, Memory; The House by the Sea; and The Latin American and Caribbean Notebook. His collected poems (through 1985) were published in Until the Morning After. Kofi Anyidoho, a poet and scholar, serves on editorial boards for several journals and has been a guest editor of Matatu, a journal of African culture and society that is published in Amsterdam.
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