Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

wole-soyinka-bookslive

The Noble Prize organization shared this video on Twitter a few days ago as part of their congratulatory message to Nigeria on its 54th anniversary.

It’s a video of Soyinka reading “Lost Poems.” The poem is in his 2002 poetry collection titled Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known. I strongly recommend the collection to anyone interested in Soyinka’s more recent poetic work.

The text of the poem is printed below so feel free to follow Soyinka as he reads.

Lost Poems

I think sometimes of poems I have lost —
Maybe their loss it was that saved the world — still
They do get lost, and I recall them only
When a fragment levitates behind
Discarded invoices, the black-rimmed notice
Of a last goodbye, a birth, a wedding invitation
And other milestones of a lesser kind.

The moment torments — why? Beyond
An instant’s passion, dubious flash —
Satori in a bar, taxi or restaurant, an airport
Waiting lounge — that births the scribble
On a stained napkin, what cast of the ephemeral
Once resonates, then spurns the mind
The morning after? All that survives

Mimics a wrinkled petal pressed
Between pages of long-discarded books.
A falling leaf trapped briefly by the passing sun
It flashes, a mere shard of memory
But filled with wistful accusations
Of abandonment. Too late,

No life to it. The book is closed
The moment’s exultation or despair
Drowned in wine rivers, shrivelled
In suns of great wars. I turn
These scrapbooks of a moment’s truth
To cinders, their curlings curse in smoke —
Once more fugitive beyond recall
Of usurper’s summons by
The morning after.

I think of voices I have lost, and touches,
The fleeting brush of eyes that burrows
Deep within the heart of need, the pledge
Unspoken, the more than acts of faith
That forge an instant world in silent pact
With strangers — deeper, deeper bonds
Than the dearest love’s embrace.

 

*****************

Post image by Victor Dlamini for Books LIVE via Flickr

Tags: , , , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

One Response to ““I Think of Poems I Have Lost” | Watch Soyinka Read “Lost Poems”” Subscribe

  1. Famous Isaacs October 7, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    thanks for sharing this

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans Longlisted for the 2020 Aspen Words Literary Prize

Lalami_Laila-1

Moroccan-American novelist Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans has recently been longlisted for the 2020 Aspen Words Literary Prize. Described on the Aspen Prize’s […]

Apply for SBMEN’s Workshop “Literary Criticism: Judging Dynamic Creative Writing in All Forms”| 23 November

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 8.57.48 PM

The Society for Book and Magazine Editors of Nigeria (SBMEN) is calling for applications to its fourth (and last) editing […]

They Say There are Over 50 Translations of Things Fall Apart. Here are 61.

Achebe Translation Cover

How many times have you heard or read that Things Fall Apart has been translated into over 50 languages? And yet, […]

Vol. II of 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Guest-edited by Yasmyn Belkhyr & Kayo Chingonyi, Now Available Here

20.35 Africa Issue II - graph

In November 2018, we published the debut volume of the 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry series. The first […]

Oyinkan Braithwaite Wins the 2019 Anthony Award for Best First Novel

Photo credit: CrimeReads

Nigerian author Oyinkan Braithwaite has won the 2019 Anthony Award for her debut novel My Sister, the Serial Killer. Braithwaite […]

Winners of the 2019 Nommo Awards

nommo

On October 25, the African Speculative Fiction Society (ASFS) announced the winners of the 2019 Nommo Awards. The award announcement […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.