Writers To Write About: Chinua

I’m adding some new series to my blog including:

  • Doc Talk, where I interview doctors about things of interests to special needs parents
  • Writers to Write, Open Letters, where I will write open letters to authors I admire (living and dead) and when I can actually find a contact for the living send them said letters.
  • Writers to Write About, this is the first of these.  When I read a really good book, be it poetry, novel, memoir or nonfiction, I will write about it and let you know.  I always welcome feedback and suggestions for other good reads.

Of course I’ll keep doing Cause Warriors, and I may be doing a Local Cause Warrior radio show later this year and possibly a radio show about writing memoir.  TBD, I have to do my volunteer training in September.  Stay tuned!

Now – Writers to Write About: Chinua

I just finished reading Chinua’s Collected Poems about Nigeria.  I really loved it.  It was entirely accessible and he provided a few end notes that were helpful but not entirely necessary because he was easy to follow.  I believe that it is harder to be an accessible and beautiful poet than simply to string complex language like gaudy baubles.  Chinua always remembers his reader.

I will be reading his novels in the future.  I always love when someone like Chinua or Garcia-Marquez opens my eyes to other cultures and sets them in equal standing.  Too often literature is filtered through “Western” lenses, and while the use of English itself is such a lens, the tone and authority of writers like Chinua to speak their truth with simple eloquence is the highest art.  I welcome suggestions of other writers whose work speaks to a larger truth.

My favorite poems in this slim volume were:

  • Pine Tree in Spring  captures the essence of being true to oneself and one’s core values.  This is a theme throughout the work but here it so so pure and forthright that the poem shines brightly for me in this short and direct poem.
  • A Mother in a Refugee Camp captures the transcendence and permanence of sentiment and the value of love in a way that few poems can do.  Through this work, you can watch a husk be formed as the vitality of life drains slowly, so slowly away.  It’s sublimely painful and fully beautiful.
  • Beware, Soul Brother is possibly my favorite poem not only in the book, but one of my favorite poems ever.  It captures the need for the artist to stay close to the earth and to channel substance.  At this skill Chinua is a master.  I cannot express how important this, to have substance in art, but Chinua does it perfectly.

Being a writer myself, I abide by and respect copyright and while I could quote a small piece of Chinua’s work legally, to pull any of the lines out of context would ring hollow.  So I strongly encourage you to either purchase your own copy or go online to your local library and request this book.  If it’s not in your local collection, request it for acquisitions or get it through inter library loan.  The title is Collected Poems, by Chinua, ISBN 1-4000-7658-7.


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