~ Poet: Atukwei Okai ~

Oblogo Concerto by Atukwei Okai

Ghanaian poetry videos are a little thin on the ground, but I found three in the International Poetry Festival of Medellín’s massive video archive (African poets section), and was fascinated by Okai’s dramatic style and use of extreme alliteration. Atukwei Okai “was the first to try to take African poetry back to one of its primal origins, in percussion, by deliberately violating the syntax and lexicon of English, creating his own rhythms through startling phonetic innovations,” according to the Nigerian scholar of African Studies Femi Osofisan. In typical Medellín video style, we are shown the audience’s reactions — or lack thereof — as the poet recites.

For more on the festival, see the Guardian Weekly article, “Medellín’s poems of peace.” I would love to see the same kind of media coverage given to this festival as to the World Cup, at least on Univision. But I imagine it would have to be turned into a poetry slam-style competition for that to happen, and that would probably clash with the festival’s peace agenda.