Harry Garuba’s Shadow and Dream is a highly influential poetry collection that has continued to stun poets and readers in the Nigerian literary scene. This slim but well-regarded collection has just been reissued on March 23.
The collection was first published in 1982 when Garuba was still in his early 20s. According to the publisher’s note, Shadow and Dream demonstrates an “uncommon maturity, vision and understated confidence that have rarely been encountered ever since its initial release.” The 2023 edition will feature a new foreword and introduction, transforming Garuba’s landmark work from “cult status to canonical validation.”
Sanya Osha, author and senior research fellow at the Institute for Humanities in Africa in University of Cape Town, wrote the foreword for Garuba’s republished collection. Osha remarks in the foreword:
The importance of this slim collection of verse can be perceived in the totemic status it maintains amongst the so-called “third generation of Nigerian writers”, most especially those engaged in poetry. In contrast to Okigbo’s landmark Labyrinths which is an epic of grand quests both personal and collective, Shadow and Dream and Other Poems is a nuanced song of poetic efflorescence, a eulogy for youthful experience, élan and emotional adventure. But much of its subtle power stems from its measured understatedness. Devoid of the customary braggadocio of youth, it is a guarded celebration of affect, tenderness and wholesome feelings. Ultimately, its subtlety, equanimous undertones and delicate but unfailing charm, lent a profound sense of poetic liberation to an entire generation of poets.
Harry O. Garuba was born in 1958 in Akure, Nigeria. He was a poet, literary critic, distinguished professor, as well as the nominal leader of the Thursday Group, an influential gathering of poets that emerged from the Poetry Club in the University of Ibadan during the 1980s and 90s. These poets were fondly labeled the Thursday People and imposed stringent standards upon themselves when it came to mastering the craft of poetry.
Garuba and the group believed that “poetry as an art form was meant to be lived and experienced in its entire range even if it entailed transcending the boundaries of sensibility, convention and nationality.” Garuba eventually became a respected professor of literature and Africa studies at the University of Cape Town in South Africa where he passed away in 2020.