Wreaths for a Wayfarer: An Anthology of Poems in Honour of Pius Adesanmi (1972-2019)

Front Cover
Nduka Otiono, Uchechukwu Umezurike
Daraja Press, 2020 - Literary Collections - 328 pages

Pius Adesanmi died in the doomed Ethiopian Airline flight 302 on March 10, 2019. Wreaths for a Wayfarer: An Anthology in Honour of Pius Adesanmi is an assemblage of 267 original poems written by 127 established and emerging African writers. While some of the poets celebrate Adesanmi, others reflect philosophically on existence, mortality, immortality and/or offer hope for the living. In this memorably textured collection, the poets - some who knew, and some who did not know Adesanmi - exorcise the pains of loss through provocative poems that pour out their beating hearts with passion. Adesanmi's passing has been commemorated in a superb anthology of commissioned poems, Wreaths for a Wayfarer. Wreaths for a Wayfarer is an eclectic collection of 161 poems by 126 poets and writers, woven like a tapestry of words into a wreath for one of their own. The mix of writers cuts across generations, social strata and stylistic practices of the genre. Rather than being a drawback, this is actually a strength of the anthology, that one man can bring together such an array of writers in one tome. It is an attestation to the influence of Adesanmi, the wayfarer, on his earthly journey - a man who served as a bridge that connected people from different backgrounds and brought them together for a common cause, be that the academic field of African studies and his desire to see it gain greater traction in academia, or global literature at large and his love of deconstructing the western canonisation of literature. Above all these, however, Adesanmi quintessentially remained a human with love for fellow humans. lt is a testament to Adesanmi's influence and reach across generations that renowned African poets such as Niyi Osundare, Helon Habila, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, Maxim Uzor Uzoatu, Emman Usman Shehu, Jumoke Verissimo and Funmi Aluko, all representing various ethnic and generational divides, share the pages of the collection with up and coming poets in a poetic salute to a wayfarer who also happens to belong to their artistic tribe. As a collection, Wreath for a Wayfarer fills a gap in the coming to terms with the tragic passage of Pius Adesanmi by his artistic peers. In a culture that has become so material, that the concept of a wreath carries with it the presence of a cadaver and a tomb - neither of which was present at the time Pius died, due to the nature of his death - to have a "wreath" of words helps give Adesanmi's contemporaries closure and deal with the trauma that accompanied his passing. One of the co-editors, Nduka Otiono, alludes to this in his introduction, pointing out that the poems represent "the collective wreaths laid by a dispersed community of writers unsettled by the untimely loss of Adesanmi.

About the author (2020)

Nduka Otiono is a writer, Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator at the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University. Prior to turning to academia, he was for many years a journalist in Nigeria. His works have appeared in Journal of Folklore Research, Af rican Literature Today, Journal of Af rican Cinema, Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, Wasafiri, etc. His co-edited volume of essays, Polyvocal Bob Dylan: Music, Performance, Literaturewas recently published under the imprint of Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Music and Literature Series. Otiono is winner of a Capital Educator's Award for Excellence in Teaching, a Carleton University Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Early Career Award for Research Excellence, twice winner of the Carnegie Africa Diaspora Fellowship, and a 2018 Black History Ottawa Community Builder Award. He is the author of The Night Hides with a Knife (short stories), which won the ANA/Spectrum Prize; Voices in the Rainbow (Poetry), a finalist for the ANA/Cadbury Poetry Prize; Love in a Time of Nightmares (Poetry) for which he was awarded the James Patrick Folinsbee Memorial Scholarship in Creative Writing. He has co-edited We-Men: An Anthology of Men Writing on Women (1998), and Camouflage: Best of Contemporary Writing from Nigeria (2006). Uchechukwu Umezurike is a PhD Candidate and Vanier Scholar in the English and Film Studies department of the University of Alberta, Canada. An Alumnus of the International Writing Program (USA), he has participated in residencies in India, Switzerland, and Italy. His poem "there's more" won the 2019 National Norma Epstein Foundation Award for Creative Writing. He was one of the winners of the the Commonwealth Short Story Competition in 2006 and 2008. His children's books Sam and the Wallet and The Runaway Hero have been shortlisted and longlisted for the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2007 and 2011 respectively. His creative writing has appeared in the following publications: The Lamp, Evergreen Review, Onomonresoa, On Broken Wings, Long Story Short, Dream Chasers, Migrations, Lagos of the Poets, Washington Square Review, African Roar, Daughters of Eve and Other Stories. His critical writing has appeared in Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, Postcolonial Text, Journal of African Cultural Studies, Cultural Studies, Journal of African Literature Association, and African Literature Today.

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