Refractive Africa: Ballet of the Forgotten

Will Alexander

Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Granta Books

Published: 6th Jan '22


A career-defining collection from one of America’s most significant poets, never before published in the UK.

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FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE IN POETRY A Poetry Book Society Recommendation Refractive Africa is a set of three poems ruminating on diasporic witness, colonialism, invasion, and political resistance. This ‘pas de trois’ of poems begins paying homage to Amos Tutuola, innovative Nigerian-Yoruban author, and ends with a speech towards modernist Malagasy poet Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo. The collection turns around the long middle poem, using the geographical site of the Congo river as a lens for considering the pillaging and dislocation of societies through history, honing-in on the specific colonial and post-colonial histories of the area. He welds these to contemporary instances of ecological damage through mining for tin and cobalt. Fierce, compelling, and full of astrological reckoning, this book is a ‘savage enunciation’: ‘this is the Congo vertiginous with derangement with its foul & delimited hygiene with its “weaver bird nests” with its sprawling grasslands with its “ghostly voltage” as flares from old oil rigs thus our intelligence forcibly blunted our thought stream injured as culpable integument within this compound negation terror persists snaking its way through interior suppression’

Additional information

Weight 0.165 kg
Dimensions 10 × 131 × 198 mm
Page Count 128