Samarkand and Other Markets I have known


Wole Soyinka

17/10/2002 | Paperback |

ISBN: 9780413772558

About Samarkand and Other Markets I have known

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.




Wole Soyinka


Wole Soyinka - playwright, novelist, poet and polemical essayist - was born in Nigeria in 1934. He was educated at Government College, Ibadan and then at Leeds University, and worked in the British theatre before returning to Nigeria in 1960.


Soyinka's career as a political activist in exile is inseparable from his writing which has earned him worldwide acclaim. Soyinka's numerous plays include The Road, The Lion and the Jewel, Death and the King's Horseman and many others. His earlier prose work The Interpreters was awarded the Jock Campbell Prize for Commonwealth Literature. His collections of poetry include Idanre and Other Poems (1967) and A Shuttle in the Crypt (1972) were composed during a period of over two years in prison without trial, most of it in solitary confinement. He has also written two earlier autobiographical volumes, Ake: The Years of Childhood and Isara: A Voyage Around Essay, published in 1981 and 1990 respectively. In 1988 his collection of essays on literature and culture Art, Dialogue and Outrage was published.


He received a New Statesman John Whiting Award for 1966-7 and was Overseas Fellow at Churchill College Cambridge in 1973-4 where he wrote Death and the King's Horseman. He has been awarded the George Benson Medal for 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 is currently Woodruff Professor of the Arts, Emory University, Atlanta.



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