TOYIN ADEWALE GABRIEL (Nigeria, 1969)
Explorer of Aromas
As the fire devours the grass,
as flames consume the matchsticks,
the street swallows my steps,
my voice dissolves in soil.
I know the green bile of hunger.
I know the triumph of dust,
the sneering arrogance of the sun,
on the carcasses of sodden
rats. l have dined on dried dogs,
flavoured with acrid urine.
And at the feet of elaborate remnants,
I find the most high remains,
Of chicken thighs unloved by excess.
I, the explorer of aromas,
wading through the maze of rice,
delighting in trash. l say your refuse
can is finger-licking good.
They say the rich also cry,
dancing to soothe their shame,
their throbbing sores.
Toyin Adewale Gabriel was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1969. Poet and narrator. She made studies in Literature and English. She has also worked as literary critic in different newspapers of her country, among them The
Guardian, Post Express and The Daily Times. She was cofounder and coordinator for several years of the Association of Writers of Nigeria. Works: Naked
Testimonies 1995; Breaking The Silence, 1996; Inkwells, 1997; Die
Aromaforscherin, 1998; Flackernde Kerzen, 1999; 25 New Nigerian
Poets, 2000; Aci Cikolata, Gunizi Yayincilik, 2003; and Nigerian
Women Short Stories, 2005. Above any consideration of gender, the poetry of Toyin Adewale outstands in the contemporary world as one of the most beautiful and outstanding voices of the new African poetry. Her work is a kind of cultural mixture where the common issues of African poetry appear: the savannah the faunae, the beautiful landscapes and its surroundings, the geography of pain -Goree-, etc., and along with these elements there are others that belong to universal poetry, from other latitudes and cultures and that give as a result a unique mixture of great beauty and that have a strength which seduce us and integrate us in its poetic heartbeating. In her poems we find elements that upsurge as wild grass and that bet for a manifestation that goes beyond what is simply poetical and lyrical finding in this way images of bitter flavor, ironical and painful, itinerary of pain. Intimate poetry with elegiac aspects, her work clearly stands as one that will create a lot of expectancy and that must be included in any anthology of African poetry.