A major volume of poetry from the Nobel prize-winner.
A market is kind haven for the wandering soul
Or the merely ruminant. Each stall
Is shrine and temple, magic cave of memorabilia.
Its passages are grottoes that transport us,
Bargain hunters all, from pole to antipodes, annulling
Time, evoking places and lost histories.
Soyinka's title poem for this collection takes as its cue the Yoruba song "The world is a market place". By turns satirical and lyrical, this fourth collection of poetry, his first in ten years, spans the poet's recent experience of exile from Nigeria as well as the journeys that have followed his Nobel Prize for Literature award. Here are reflections on the deaths of politicians, dictators and dissident friends as well as invocations to fellow writers Ken Saro-Wiwa, Josef Brodsky and Chinua Achebe. In sections tellingly entitled "Outsiders", "Of Exits" or the poem sequence "Twelve Canticles for the Zealot", Soyinka confronts political realities - religious fundamentalism, bigotry and the repression of free speech. Others such as "Lost Poems", "Doctored Vision" or "Visiting Trees (Night Hunt)" are evidence of a more private, interior search.
"One of the liveliest, most exciting writers in the world today." New York Times
"His images run into each other like brilliantly coloured dyes ... His sense of joy and freedom is irrepressible." Richard Holmes, The Times
About the author:
Wole Soyinka was born in Nigeria in 1934 and in 1994 was forced into exile by military dictatorship, returning in 1999. He has been awarded the George Benson Medal of the Royal Society of Literature and the UNESCO Medal for the Arts. In 1986 he became the first African writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He now divides his time between Nigeria and overseas universities. His previous collections of poetry include A Shuttle in the Crypt, Idanre and other poems, Mandela's Earth and Ogun Abibiman. His Selected Poems was published in 2002.