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Collected Poemsby Chinua Achebe
Synopses & Reviews
A collection of poetry spanning the full range of the African-born author's acclaimed career has been updated to include seven never-before-published works, as well as much of his early poetry that explores suchthemes as the African consciousness, the tragedy of Biafra, and the mysteries of human relationships.
"One of the world's most admired novelists, Achebe (Things Fall Apart; Anthills of the Savannah) has maintained a separate (and much less prolific) career as a poet: this slender volume shows American readers that work. Achebe was forced out of his native Nigeria in 1966, just before the grisly and devastating Biafran War of 1967 — 1970. Some of his most authoritative poems respond to those, and to later, public events. 'A Mother in a Refugee Camp' shows its title character combing 'the rust-colored hair left' on her son's 'skull,' 'Like putting flowers on a tiny grave.' Achebe's other poems include lyrics of hope and resolve, 'tearful songs/ Of joy,' and responses to ceremonial occasions: 'Beware, Soul Brother' advises its listener to 'protect this patrimony to which/ you must return when the song/ is finished.' 'Dereliction' (a good candidate for anthologies) denounces those who abandon local traditions. Some of his language is now dated, or sounds awkward, at least to American ears ('evil forests of Soviet technology'), but other, stronger work shows Achebe's narrative gifts, retelling New Testament stories ('Lazarus') or animating Nigerian legends and myths ('Lament of the Sacred Python'). These and scattered other poems are 'Clear-signed with a clarity/ rarely encountered in dreams.' (Aug.) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He was raised in the large village of Ogidi, one of the first centers of Anglican missionary work in Eastern Nigeria, and is a graduate of University College, Ibadan.
His early career in radio ended abruptly in 1966, when he left his post as Director of External Broadcasting in Nigeria during the national upheaval that led to the Biafran War. He was appointed Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and began lecturing widely abroad.
From 1972 to 1975, and again from 1987 to 1988, Mr. Achebe was Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and also for one year at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.
Cited in the London Sunday Times as one of the “1,000 Makers of the Twentieth Century” for defining “a modern African literature that was truly African” and thereby making “a major contribution to world literature,” Chinua Achebe has published novels, short stories, essays, and childrens books. His volume of poetry, Christmas in Biafra, written during the Biafran War, was the joint winner of the first Commonwealth Poetry Prize. Of his novels, Arrow of God won the New Statesman-Jock Campbell Award, and Anthills of the Savannah was a finalist for the 1987 Booker Prize.
Mr. Achebe has received numerous honors from around the world, including the Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Foreign Honorary Membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as more than thirty honorary doctorates from universities in England, Scotland, the United States, Canada, Nigeria, and South Africa. He is also the recipient of Nigerias highest honor for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Order of Merit, and of Germanys Friedenstreis des Beutschen Buchhandels for 2002.
Mr. Achebe lives with his wife in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where they teach at Bard College. They have four children and three grandchildren.
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