The new publication takes readers on a journey through the poet’s life and works, comprising his most cherished verses from over five decades.
By Helena Olori
Internationally-acclaimed poet and Africa’s first Nobel laureate in Literature, Wole Soyinka, has unveiled his latest publication, Selected Poems (1965-2022): A Retrospective.
The book, featuring artwork by celebrated artist, Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya, seamlessly integrates literature and visual arts, a testament to the ending power of Language and Art.
Published by Bookcraft Africa, the collection is a curated selection of poems, including published and unpublished works, that provides a unique glimpse into Soyinka’s creative process over five decades.
Speaking at the 6th edition of the CORA BookTrek held on July 16, 2023, at Providus Bank Corporate Office Rooftop Lounge, Victoria Island, Lagos, Soyinka emphasised the significance of including visual elements in his book. “As earlier remarked, this selection is framed, and moderately interspersed with the works of a graphic artist […] It helps perhaps to remind ourselves that the poetic enterprise, sometimes, treats words like the material of the canvas, wood, fabric, even metals, beaten into shape,” he noted.
Co-hosted by Bookcraft Africa and supported by ProvidusBank, the event celebrated the public presentation of Soyinka’s Selected Poems (1965-2022): A Retrospective, and the exhibition of artworks by Onobrakpeya, which, according to Soyinka “embellish the book, rather than illustrate it.”
The occasion also served as a tribute to the longstanding friendship between the two icons, Soyinka and Onobrakpeya, as the Selected Poems collection was dedicated to the acclaimed artist. Bruce Onobrakpeya was a leading artist who illustrated some of the earliest editions of novels in the African Writers Series, and other fiction works by pioneering authors.
The Committee for Relevant Art‘s (CORA) BookTrek series is a monthly author-audience interface focused on books that offer historical and contemporary insights into the African condition.
This edition, focused on the Selected Poems (1965-2022): A Retrospective, featured readings by Soyinka himself, and brought together a cross-generational audience of literature enthusiasts and prominent Nigerian leaders.