Nigeria: In the Heart of Earth

The 17th International Poetry Festival in Berlin (June 3rd-9th 2016) introduced the guests to some of the most significant Nigerian poets.

niyi-osundare-c-paul-punzo.jpgFrom my perspective, the biggest highlight of the Nigerian night was probably the poet named Niyi Osundare, who is currently among the leading professors of English at the University of New Orleans and who has published 18 books of poetry to date. He received some of the most prestigious awards, such as the Tchicaya U Tam’si Prize for African Poetry or Nigerian National Order of Merit Award (the highest academic award for outstanding creative and intellectual contribution).

He not only recited his poems to the audience, but sang them, just like the Nigerians sing poems to their children. In his own words: “In our poems you can always find reflections of our ancestors, and that’s why my poems belong both to them and to you.


Another star of the event was the Nigerian-Canadian poet Titilope Sonuga. Her beautiful voice, her exceptional delivery, but above all the strength of her poetry almost made time stand still in the hall.

17. festival poézie Berlín
17th Poetry Festival in Berlin
More information at

Titilope Sonuga, TEDxEdmonton, July 30th 2014:

“… I think that God must be a multitasking woman,
because my mother can cook three different meals at the same time.
Feeding people is how she expresses her love, and I eat too much.
I peel her kindness clean off the bone… I know there are many different kinds of hunger…”

– Martina Straková