This presentation is a panoptic survey of seven decades of contemporary Nigerian poetry written in English. It is a general discourse of four major generations of poets, with each period marked by their agencies and undercurrents, characteristics, major voices and significations. For its range of publications, contemporary Nigerian writing holds a remarkable fount within African literary space. Although the generational categorisation of modern Nigerian poetry is decidedly a matter of critical convenience, there are notable and established trends and tendencies of the tradition which include socio-political engagment, female consciousness, Niger Delta imagination, ecological sensibilities, and other peculiar aesthetic idioms which project the Nigerian/African condition in symbolic reliefs.
Aderemi Raji-Oyelade (aka Remi Raji) teaches Literature of the African Diaspora, Literary Theory, Creative Writing, and New Media in the Department of English, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. His scholarly essays have appeared in journals including Research in African Literatures, ARIEL, Wasafiri, Matatu, and African Literature Today. His book – Playful Blasphemies: Postproverbials as Archetypes of Modernity in Yoruba Culture (2012, rev. 2022) – has received acclaim as a seminal work in contemporary African studies. Raji-Oyelade is the coordinator of a multi-site, pan-African research project on the theory and practices of postproverbials in seven African countries.
A member of Nigeria’s Third Generation writers, Raji’s has read his poems widely in Africa, Europe and America. In 2005, he served as the Guest Writer to the City of Stockholm, Sweden. His volumes of poetry include A Harvest of Laughters (1997), Webs of Remembrance (2001), Shuttlesongs America: A Poetic Guided Tour (2003), Lovesong for My Wasteland (2005), Gather My Blood Rivers of Song (2009), Sea of My Mind (2013) and Wanderer Cantos (2021). His works have been translated into French, German, Catalan, Swedish, Ukrainian, Latvian and Croatian.