By Henry Akubuiro
Over 40 poets from Europe, Africa, and North America participated in the World Poetry Day virtual launch of Wreaths for a Wayfarer: An Anthology in Honour of Pius Adesanmi edited by Nduka Otiono and Uche Peter Umezurike.
The event, which took place virtually on Sunday, March 22, 2021, was facilitated by Nduka Otiono and Ndubuisi Martins, an Ibadan-based poet and author of the collection of poems Answers Through the Bramble.
The event opened with welcome remarks by Otiono, Associate Professor and Graduate Programme Supervisor at the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University. Also present to witness or participate in the poetry readings and performances, and reflections on mobility and mortality in the time of Coronavirus, were Professor Toyin Falola, the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin; Professor Chinedum Babalola, Vice-Chancellor of Chrisland University, Nigeria; Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, scholar and multiple award-winning writer; Jane Bryce, Professor Emerita of African Literature and Cinema at the University of the West Indies, Barbados; Akua Lezli Hope author of Embouchure and recipient of US National Endowment of the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships for Poetry; and other distinguished scholars, established and emerging poets.
Dr. Eghosa Imasuen, co-founder and director of Narrative Landscape Press, unveiled the African edition of Wreaths for a Wayfarer, praising it for its symbolic significance, poetic depth, and global character. Acclaimed poet, journalist, and writer Uzo Maxim Uzoatu kickstarted the poetry readings. His reading of his poem “The Passing of Pius” was followed by readings and performances by other poets and contributors to the anthology such as Unoma Azuah, Iquo DianaAbasi, Peter Midgley, Yejide Kilanko, Sarah Katz-Lavigne, Rasak Malik Gbolahan, Jumoke Verissimo, Uthman Ajibola Adejumo, Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, Ndaba Sibanda, Maryam Ali Ali, Ludwidzi Mainza, Uzo Odonwodo, Peter Olamakinde Olapegba, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, Celina Aju-Ameh, Olajide Salawu, Onuchi Mark Onoruoiza, and Umezurike.
The event was both commemorative and celebratory of Pius Adesanmi to whom the anthology is dedicated. Participants highlighted his accomplishments as a writer, scholar, and public intellectual. Before his untimely demise on the 10th of March 2019 aboard the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Adesanmi was a professor of English and Director of the Institute of African Studies at Carleton University.
It should be recalled that some distinguished scholars have hailed the book in the following glowing terms: “Richly evocative and engaging” a “powerful collection of poems from the heart” (Professor Obioma Nnaemeka, Chancellor’s Professor, Indiana University, Indianapolis, USA, and President, Association of African Women Scholars); “an assemblage of kindred tongues creating and recreating a new future from an unrelieved past and a censured present. . . a rare accomplishment” (Professor Olu Obafemi, Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and recipient of the Nigeria National Order of Merit); “magisterial anthology. . .Verses speak to our expectations—the daydreaming, the anticipations, even the blessings of a temporary moment” (Professor Toyin Falola).
The World Poetry Day virtual launch of Wreaths for a Wayfarer event was sponsored by Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies, Chrisland University, Lunaris, Digirature, and Ngiga Books and Club. Both the Nigerian edition and Canadian edition (published by Daraja Press) of Wreaths for a Wayfarer are internationally available in-store and online for purchase. The video recording of the event can be viewed at this link:https://youtu.be/oHaWoAM5FUs