Monday, January 10, 2005

Ushie's Critics

Less overtly political than the work of, say, Ogaga Ifowodo or Nimo Bassey, Joe Ushie's work is metaphorically and linguistically cunning. Though he is from the south-east of Nigeria, Ushie was for some time a student of Niyi Osundare's in Ibadan. That influence shows in the measure and music of his work, as well as in the ironic eye he casts over some of the less praiseworthy cultural conventions of his people. As he observes in "Song of the Dead", from his most recent collection Hill Songs (Kraftgriots, 2000):

Before I died
You could have let me
Lean on crumbs of yours;
But you did nothing;
And now you feed A market of mourners

Although almost half the poets represented in the book are from Nigeria, neither Oyebode or Ushie are included in the Gambian poet Tijan Sallah's recent anthology, New Poets of West Africa (Malthouse Press).

*Review - Stewart Brown in "The Pleaded Grace of Song - Wole Soyinka and Nigerian Poetry" http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/review/pr92-2/brown.htm

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