West African Poetry: A Critical History

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Sep 4, 1986 - Literary Criticism - 351 pages
Previous studies of African poetry have tended to concentrate either on its political content or on its relationship to various European schools. This book examines West African poetry in English and French against the background of oral poetry in the vernacular. Do the roots of such poetry lie in Africa or in Europe? In committing their work to writing, do poets lose more than they gain? Can the immediacy of oral performance ever be recovered? Robert Fraser's account of two centuries of West African verse examines its subjugation to a succession of international styles: from the heroic couplet to the austerity of experimental Modernism. Successive chapters take us through the Négritude movement and the emergence of anglophone free verse in the 1950s to the rediscovery in recent years of the neglected springs of orality, which is the subject of the concluding chapter.
 

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Okara's "The Voice" is amazing, and it changed my life for everything Fraser criticizes about it. For one, using African vernacular. I bet more people have benefitted from "The Voice" than Fraser's criticism of it, given anyone has even read the latter work.

Contents

From oral to written verse development or depletion?
7
Ladies and gentlemen
20
The negritude movement
42
Poetry and the university 195763
73
The achievement of Christopher Okigbo
104
Continuity and adaptation in Ghanaian verse 195271
138
Two Ijo poets
168
Psalmody of sunsets the career of Lenrie Peters
200
The road to Idanre 195967
231
The poet and war 196670
251
The poetry of dissent 197080
273
The return to orality
311
A guide to availability
341
Index
346
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