Books by Niyi
Songs of the Marketplace (2006)
The Word is an Egg
Pages from the Book of the Sun (2002) /
Two Plays (2006)
Thread in the Loom: Essays (2002) /
The State Visit (2002) /
Midlife (2005) /
Moonsongs (1988) /
The Eyes of the Earth (2007)
* * *
Niyi Niyi Osundare
the name breathes a song
we are learning.
A life with the breath and depth
of a strong table: Handsome and useful.
A green bottle loosed and twirling in the ocean
rolls up on this riverbank,
a poem like music,
no translation needed.
Niyi, you are your country
and you are absent,
its negative space calls for you.
You’ve left words like cornmeal
for your people to follow
Your country calls,
Niyi, Niyi Osundare
I am missing you .
I know you sing of my beauty and my pain.
Where are you?
Does some other woman make your bed?
Sing only of me.
Sing to the woman’s children,
but sing only of me.
I am your beautiful mother.
Niyi, we know your home calls you,
but this too is your home.
Flood waters could not wash you away.
Tonight we celebrate you with ritual: candles, sage,
with many glasses lifted too many times.
We celebrate you as someone who arrives from great
as a man who arrives from the stars.
Grue photo by Phyllis Parun, photographer
posted 17 April 2007
* * * *
May peace flood your heart today.
It has been a very busy weekend down
here in Lagos. I have this morning
thoroughly enjoyed the poem on Niyi
Osundare by the New Orleans poet, Lee
Meitzen Grue. I suppose it had been
written earlier, or has it just been
I couldn't help feeling jealous that
someone is pleading with Niyi to stay
put in exile, saying that though Nigeria
beckons on him to return, New Orleans
cherishes his presence on its land. Can
you beat that?
Well, that has been our plight for many
years now. Majority of Nigeria's best
minds and original thinkers are all in
exile, because the horrible conditions
at home grow worse with each passing
We are stuck with an insufferably
incompetent junta, whose inferiority
complex drives into thinking that these
writers and great minds are its greatest
problem. And so, it hounds them into
exile, and we lose them to other
Chinua Achebe, for instance, is out
there in New York even at 76! This was a
man who had always cherished living in
his country, and contributing his
thoughts and ideas to further its
There are many others like him out there
scattered in Europe, Asia and the US,
where their persons, talents and
services are duly appreciated.
The April elections have brought no hope
to Nigerians. President Olusegun
Obasanjo, in an election adjudged the
worst in the nation’s history, has
imposed on the nation his anointed
candidates who will not ask questions
about his massive looting of the
Power supply continues to be withdrawn
almost the whole days in the week, and
so how can a writer function in such a
I will scan some pages of Osundare's
and send them to you. I always find
Niyi’s poems very delicious.
You sure will love them.
Have a nice day.
* * * * *
Osundare, who was born in Nigeria in 1947 and is currently a
professor of English literature at the university of New
Orleans, is considered the greatest living Nigerian poet. Most
of his books are published in Nigeria;
The Word is an Egg,
his latest collection, appeared earlier this year. Just
recently, two books of his,
Pages from the Book of the Sun:
New & Selected Poems and
Thread in the Loom: Essays
on African Literature and Culture, were published in the
United States by African World Press. His work has been
translated in Dutch, German, Korean and French, and has won many
literary awards, such as the Noma.
posted 24 April 2007
* * *
By Lee Meitzen Grue
Lee Grue is arguably one of the finest
practitioners of poetry in New Orleans'
storied history. These superb writs are
equal to the upwelling of jazz itself:
from Tremé street corners, to the
wayward French Quarter, to the carefree
vibes of Bywater, all the way to back o'
town; this astonishing collection speaks
from a mythic pantheon off yowls & beats
as timeless as the Crescent City
herself. "If you're missing New Orleans,
and you know what that means, you need
to read Grue's book front to back, place
by place, time by time, name by name,
everything that breaks your broken heart
and asks it to sing. A generous, loving
tribute to poetry and to New Orleans"—Dara
Grue's work is one of the majestic
pylons that keeps New Orleans above
water, a pylon woven thickly and subtly
from the city's history. Her poetry
weaves her personal history to the five
centuries of the city's own, a fabric
stronger than the dreams of engineers.
Lee Grue holds us all on the warm open
hand of her music; she emanates the love
that raises the soul levees"—Andrei
Grue was born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, a small town
upriver. New Orleans has been home for most of her
life. She began reading her poetry at The Quorum
Club during the early sixties. There she met
musicians Eluard Burt and Maurice Martinez
(bandleader Marty Most). Burt had just come back to
New Orleans from San Francisco, where he had been
influenced by the Beats. Eluard Burt and Lee Grue
continued to work together over many years. Burt and
his photographer wife, Kichea Burt, came home to New
Orleans from California again in the nineties, where
the three collaborated on a CD, Live! on Frenchmen
Street. Eluard Burt passed in 2007.
contributed some of the photographs in Grue's book
DOWNTOWN. During the intervening years Grue reared
children, directed The New Orleans Poetry Forum
workshop, and NEA poetry readings in the Backyard
Poetry Theater. In 1982 she began editing New Laurel
Review, an independent international literary
journal which is still published today. She has
lived downtown in the Bywater for thirty-five years.
After the flood of 2005 she began teaching fiction
and poetry at the Alvar Library, which is three
blocks from her house. Her other books are:
Trains and Other Intrusions, French Quarter Poems,
In the Sweet Balance of the
Goodbye Silver, Silver Cloud, short fiction.
* * *
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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