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Writers of the Year Forum


Visit IRCALC Forum for discussions on poetry, literature, language, theory, creativity and contemporary issues  


  • Anjali Gera Roy: In Honour of Achebe

�Ekwefi and Ezinma still remain my favourite characters�

I began my research when feminism had just become a fashionable word in India and most of my contemporaries have either made outstanding significant contributions to the feminist movement or to feminist criticism. My problem with my activist friends and feminist scholars was that euro-american feminist theory failed to account for alternative feminisms � African-American womanism or more subtle forms of resistance that accord women in traditional patriarchal societies. However, I do appreciate the light that western and postcolonial feminist scholars have thrown on Achebe�s and Soyinka�s aesthetic and cultural blueprint for the 20th century and the novelists� incorporation of that criticism in the construction of female subjectivities in their latter novels such as �Anthills.� But Ekwefi and Ezinma still remain my favourite characters as their gentle strength reminds me of similar characters in Indian fiction and society. Gera Roy: Lit. Chat

  • Sembene Ousmane: Begging as Metaphor

"Standing at a corner and stretching an arm to receive alms constitutes begging. ... of course. There are now the corrupt people inside the offices in the administration (and) corrupt police officers who stand at the corners of the roads....One cannot say flat out they are beggars, but when they use their offices for corruption, there are nevertheless beggars, if you want, like the one who sits at the corner of the streets or in front of the mosque� to that we can agree. Now there are countries in Africa such as Nigeria or Senegal where one sees the petty civil servant who does not manage to tie both ends (before the end of the month) becoming corrupt� people like that we can accept as belonging to a rotten system of beggars. And the unemployed of various categories who trudge our roads? They will end up being beggars. Look at your cities in Nigeria: Kano, Maiduguri�.Burkina-Faso, Mali too.  � the young people starting from 30 to 40 years of age. We know of these fathers or mothers in the streets of Dakar on Friday� women who have twins, who have two children, who beg. ...Xala was a fight known in Senegalese community as h�l�e. Xala does not speak about the origin of beggars�. With the middle-class becoming increasingly small, begging −the beggars− grew increasingly numerous. But Xala is a kind of metaphor". - Sembene Lit. Chat.


  • Kei Miller: Privileging of the Female Subject


"People keep on mentioning this, so they must be right, but I�m not completely sure why that is. There isn�t any agenda at work, none that I am conscious of... I�ll hazard a guess though, and say it has a lot to do with my experience of reading. I guess, as a writer, I�ve come after the explosion of female writers of the 80s � I grew up reading Lorna Goodison and Olive Senior and Erna Brodber from the Caribbean, and Gloria Naylor and Toni Morrison from America, all these women who themselves were writing about women. So women were very present and very large in my fictional landscape. I�ve simply ended up writing the kinds of stories I liked reading, and they are inhabited by the kinds of characters I fell in love with."                       --Miller: Lit. Chat


  • Irene Marques: Myth, Reality, Poetry and States of Being

"My poetry or fiction tend to mix myth and reality, conscious and unconscious, spirituality and physicality, bringing to the forefront the intrinsic relationship that exists between all these planes or states of being, and questioning the very notion of what constitutes reality, or better yet, presenting a reality that is closer to the �whole reality� that humans inhabit or dwell in � it is very animist and holistic.  It also brings together different geographical, temporal and cultural spaces. This intertwinement of different cultural and spatio-temporal realities, and ways of knowing (epistemologies) creates �narratives� that have multidimensional and complex meanings, and allows the exploration of the oppressions and freedoms permeating different societies." 

Irene: Poetry                         Irene: Lit. Chat

  • Joe Ushie's African Imagery

"There is no doubting the fact that we have enough heroes and martyrs in Africa to use as reference points in writing... I am usually conscious of this. However, I also believe that literature is like a sea, which takes in water from many rivers, rivulets and streams. Once the water from these tributaries enters the sea or ocean, it becomes common property of all men, and all can fish in it�. In this case, I think of the image that is most apt for my immediate need. First, I explore for the African image, if it is not sufficient, I would go for an alternative..."  More


  • Chin Ce on the Language of Poetry

"I see the creative process as communication that goes beyond language; I visualise an interaction that goes towards the inner dimensions of the individual. And that interaction is neither imagistic nor symbolic; the interaction transcends the boundaries of language. It is knowingness that goes so deep within the individual. The problem comes in lending expression to this knowingness; to this self instinctual understanding or realisation and then that problem comes when you want to give verbal expression to this experience within the individual..." More


  • Anezi Okoro on Characterisation

"Generally, many of my characters represent snippets of the kind of time and period I saw as a child. The characters I portray were the kind of characters that existed in those days. Then, the teachers were respected. The teachers were happy to know that they were bringing up young minds. They served as role models for their pupils. There was no way teachers combined their duties with other jobs..."  



  • Ossie Enekwe on Igbo Masks and African Drama

"When I was in the university, most of our lecturers sounded as if we didn't have drama in Africa. When I got to the United States I came in contact with drama works from other parts of the world. I saw Japanese and Chinese drama. But above all how drama was presented in Japanese culture for instance. Further I studied history of drama and I realised that many of my teachers were wrong in supposing that we don't have drama in Africa. They felt that the dances which were ritualistic in nature lacked dramatic impetus because they believed that ritual and theatre were opposed to each other..." More