Bower on Translocality, Small Magazines and Nigerian Poetry

Our next seminar takes place on the 14th of May in Seminar Room 2 of the Leeds Arts Humanities Research Institute at 4 pm. The open to all.

Abstract

Translocality, Small Magazines and Nigerian Poetry by Rachel Bower

This paper considers some of the small literary magazines that emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Ibadan and Leeds, with a particular focus on the poetry published in The Horn (University College, Ibadan, est. 1958) and Poetry and Audience (University of Leeds, est. 1953). I look closely at the work of Minji Karibo, a student at Ibadan, and also consider other magazines, including Outposts (Hull), Ibadan (Ibadan) and Fresh Buds (Nsukka). The paper focuses on these specific examples as case studies from the period of decolonisation, in which multiple and diverse literary communities experienced a series of locally specific transformations. The concept of translocality therefore underpins this investigation into the African literary materials that developed in this period.

The informal, often student-run, magazines from this period were underpinned by literary relations between Nigeria and the UK, and sometimes by direct collaboration between poets in Ibadan and Leeds. Writers with connections to both cities contributed to or edited The Horn and Poetry and Audience for instance, including Wole Soyinka, J.P. Clark, Aigboje Higo, Kalu Uka, Tony Harrison, James Simmons, Martin Banham, John Heath-Stubbs and Geoffrey Hill. Some of these writers are now celebrated as national literary heroes. This paper not only adds to existing evidence showing that student magazines were important in constituting literary communities in Africa (and the UK) during this period, however, but also shows that we must look beyond the ‘nation’ if we are to better understand how literary relations shape literary aesthetics – in this case, African literary materials in English. The paper combines close reading with an analysis of the literary fields in which these magazines were produced, to show how translocality and collaboration are key to understanding the craft of a key generation of poets in Britain and Nigeria during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

About Our Speaker

Dr Rachel Bower

Dr Rachel Bower is a poet and a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. She is the author of Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and Moon Milk (Valley Press, 2018). She is the co-editor of a special issue of English Studies on Tony Harrison, and a special issue of The Journal of Commonwealth Literature on the crafts of world literature. Rachel also edited the Verse Matters anthology with Helen Mort (Valley Press, 2017). Her poems have been published in Stand Magazine, New Welsh Reader, The Interpreter’s House, Frontier, Popshot Magazineand many other places and she has also been shortlisted for the London Magazine Poetry Prize and won several other poetry prizes. 

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