Gabriel Okara’s Poetry

Last week I heard Gabriel Okara, the acclaimed Nigerian poet, read his poetry at the Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA. His poetry was moving and poignant. His son, Dr. Ebi Okara introduced me to his father, Gabriel, and now Gabriel has agreed to read for the Massachusetts State Poetry Society—North Shore Forum Chapter. I’m thrilled and know that you will want to help us celebrate Gabriel’s poetry.

Come and hear him read at the Beverly, MA Public Library Saturday, September 17 at 11:am. We’ll socialize and share refreshments after the reading.

Gabriel Okara is considered one of the founders of modern African literature and he is one of the most famous West African writers working in the English language today. He’s won a number of awards including the Commonwealth Poetry Award.

A poem from Gabriel’s work:

Piano and Drums

When at break of day at a riverside
I hear the jungle drums telegraphing
the mystic rhythm, urgent, raw
like bleeding flesh, speaking of
primal youth and the beginning
I see the panther ready to pounce
the leopard snarling about to leap
and the hunters crouch with spears poised;

And my blood ripples, turns torrent,
topples the years and at once I’m
in my mother’s laps a suckling;
at once I’m walking simple
paths with no innovations,
rugged, fashioned with the naked
warmth of hurrying feet and groping hearts
in green leaves and wild flowers pulsing.

Then I hear a wailing piano
solo speaking of complex ways in
tear-furrowed concerto;
of far away lands
and new horizons with
coaxing diminuendo, counterpoint,
crescendo. But lost in the labyrinth
of its complexities, it ends in the middle
of a phrase at a daggerpoint.

And I lost in the morning mist
of an age at a riverside keep
wandering in the mystic rhythm
of jungle drums and the concerto.

Gabriel Okara

About versealive

Founder of the Louise Bogan Chapter of the Massachusetts State Poetry Society, grandmother of five budding poets, and married to Richard who writes poems for birthday parties.
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