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The late Gabriel Okara.

Gabriel Okara, the first Modernist poet of anglophone Africa, recently passed on at the age of 97. His best known works are the poetry collections The Fisherman’s Invocation (1978) and The Dreamer, His Vision (2005), and the experimental novel The Voice (1964).

His last published book, Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems (April 2016), is available on the website of its publishers, the University of Nebraska Press, as part of its African Poetry Book Series, which has Kwame Dawes as series editor. The book, edited and with an introduction by Brenda Marie Osbey, is 168 pages long.

Here is all you need to know.


About the Book

Arranged in six sections, Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems includes the poet’s earliest lyric verse along with poems written in response to Nigeria’s war years; literary tributes and elegies to fellow poets, activists, and loved ones long dead; and recent dramatic and narrative poems. The introduction by Brenda Marie Osbey contextualizes Okara’s work in the history of Nigerian, African, and English language literatures. Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems is at once a treasure for those long in search of a single authoritative edition and a revelation and timely introduction for readers new to the work of one of Africa’s most revered poets.


About the Author and the Editor

Gabriel Okara was born at Bumoundi, Bayelsa State, in the Niger Delta in 1921 and educated at Government College Umuahia in Nigeria and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He worked as a bookbinder and printer for Federal Government Press at Lagos, served as the director of cultural and information services for the short-lived Republic of Biafra, and was the general manager of the Rivers State newspaper and broadcasting corporations. He is an honorary member of the Pan-African Writers’ Association, a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, and is currently writer in residence at the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.

Brenda Marie Osbey is a poet and essayist. Her most recent volumes are History and Other Poems and All Souls: Essential Poems. A native of New Orleans, she is poet laureate emerita of Louisiana and distinguished visiting professor of Africana Studies at Brown University.


Table of Contents


Introduction by Brenda Marie Osbey

Part I: The Early Lyrics

  • The Call of the River Nun
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Piano and Drums
  • Were I to Choose
  • Spirit of the Wind
  • New Year’s Eve Midnight
  • You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed
  • The Mystic Drum
  • One Night at Victoria Beach
  • The Snowflakes Sail Gently Down
  • Adhiambo
  • To Paveba
  • “Franvenkirche”
  • Fantasy
  • The Passing of a Year
  • The Gambler

Part II: The Fisherman’s Invocation

  • 1: Introit
  • 2: The Invocation
  • 3: The Child-Front
  • 4: Birth Dance of the Child-Front
  • 5: The End

Part III: War Poems

  • Moods from Songs without Words
  • Leave Us Alone
  • I Am Only a Name
  • The Silent Voice
  • Suddenly the Air Cracks
  • Metaphor of a War
  • Cancerous Growth
  • Freedom Day
  • Moon in the Bucket
  • Flying over the Sahara
  • Kindly Sprite
  • Rural Path
  • Lady and Her Wig
  • Silent Girl
  • Cross on the Moon
  • Rain Lullaby
  • Come, Come and Listen
  • Sunday
  • Dispensing Morning Balm
  • To a Star
  • Celestial Song
  • The Glowering Rat
  • The Dead a Spirit Demands
  • Christmas 1971
  • Welcome Home
  • Waiting for Her Son
  • Part IV: Revolt of the Gods
  • Argument I
  • Argument II

Part V: The Dreamer, His Vision

  • The Dreamer
  • Bent Double with Weight
  • Darkness
  • The Precipice
  • Moon Massaged Me to Sleep
  • Adieu!
  • Anthem of Silence
  • Complex Matter
  • Dispensing Morning Balm
  • Setting Sun
  • Beauty beyond Words
  • Taps Are Dry
  • Self Preservation
  • The Little Bird
  • Morbidity
  • Smiling Morning
  • River Nun—2
  • We Live to Kill and Kill to Live
  • The Land at Christmas ’93
  • Ovation Seeker
  • Mass Transit Buses
  • Contractors
  • Civil Servants
  • Smokers’ Wish
  • Man Dies, Never Dies

Part VI: Prayers and Tributes

  • Give Us Good Leaders
  • Talking Nonsense
  • Rural Dweller
  • Lone Mourner
  • Apartheid
  • Spark in the Sky
  • A Prayer
  • From Ken to Mike
  • Rise and Shine
  • Requiem
  • Man Polygamous
  • Mammy-Water & Me
  • Wedding Bells
  • To the Lady of the House
  • For Ada Udechukwu
  • A Boy’s Dream
  • Queen
  • Letter to My Grandson
  • Babydom Wisdom
  • Waiting for a Coming
  • Snow over Home of the Newly Wed
  • Before I Say Good-Bye (India)
  • Moon over Heidelberg
  • Salt of the Earth
  • Eagle in the Sun
  • The Aruzzo Farm House
  • We Shared
  • Happy Birthday
  • Chronology




Paperback (April 2016) | 978-0-8032-8687-0

$19.95 | Add to Cart

eBook (PDF) (April 2016) | 978-0-8032-8868-3

$19.95 | Add to Cart

eBook (EPUB) (April 2016) | 978-0-8032-8866-9

$19.95 | Add to Cart


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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he sits on the judging panels of The Miles Morland Writing Scholarships and of The Gerald Kraak Prize. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

2 Responses to “Gabriel Okara’s Collected Poems Is Available from African Poetry Book Series” Subscribe

  1. Nnamdi April 1, 2019 at 1:11 pm #

    “Gabriel Okara, the first Modernist poet of anglophone Africa, recently passed on at the age of 73.” You may correct “73” to “97.”

    • Otosirieze April 1, 2019 at 2:34 pm #

      Thank you, Nnamdi. I will correct it right now.

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