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Return of the Town Crier?: Okigbos Path of Thunder and Labyrinths

Curwen Best


This article enters the long running debate about the poet Christopher Okigbos published oeuvre and the place of Path of Thunder in the compilation called Labyrinths. The article does not set out to directly prove or disprove if Okigbo saw them as separate works. It is more concerned to consider arguments regarding the compatibility and incompatibility of his earlier and later work, and to suggest another pathway by which it is possible to read the later collection Path of Thunder. The essay uses Ruth Finnegans insights about the free-lance poet as a template for the assessment of Okigbos performance as a poet. Beginning with her insights the discussion goes on further to do a close reading of selected poems and their employment of traditional African tools, motifs and strategies. The essay contends that he is a much more dynamic poet than is widely believed. Much time is spent examining some of the strategies at work in his later poetry. All in all the essay wants to broaden the debate so that less attention or blame is personally laid at Okigbos feet and more emphasis is placed on concerns to do with artistic freedom, motivation, audience and mask wearing.

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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