LENRIE PETERS (Gambia, 1932)

LENRIE PETERS (Gambia, 1932)

Parachute men say
The first jump
Takes the breath away
Feet in the air disturb
Till you get used to it.

Solid ground
Is not where you left it
As you plunge down
Perhaps head first

As you listen to
Your arteries talking
You learn to sustain hope.

Suddenly you are only
Holding an umbrella
In a windy place
As the warm earth
Reaches out to you
Reassures you
The vibrating interim is over

You try to land
Where green grass yields
And carry your pack
Across the fields

The violent arrival
Puts out the joint
Earth has nowhere to go
You are at the staring point

Jumping across worlds
In condensed time
After the awkward fall
We are always at the starting point

Lenrie Peters was born in Bathurst (at the time a British colony), now Banjul, Gambia on September 1, 1932. Poet, narrator, publisher, medical surgeon and opera singer. Author of the poetry books: Katchikali; Satellites; and Collected Poems and the novel The Second Round, 1965. All his works were published by Heinemann, in London, in the collection African writers series. After making his first studies in Bathurst and in Sierra Leone, he traveled to Cambridge to study Natural Sciences at Trinity College. In England, he was the president of the Union of African Students. He also worked as a publisher for one of the earliest Gambian newspapers, The Gambia Echo. As well as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and other writers, he belongs to the first generation of the Anglophone West African Writers in being recognized as such and being published abroad. He is an enthusiast defender of the panafricanism. A cosmopolitan poet, his densely packed, minimalist stanzaic structures fit in the broad universal spectrum of human experience: aging and death, the risks of love, the loneliness of exile. In his book Satellites (1967), the poet-doctor's detachment is a metaphor for the uprooted individual's painful existential isolation; his scalpel penetrating “at the cutting chaotic edge of things” an image for the imaginative piercing and spiritual penetration which are the real goals of the poet's quest. Although he gets furious with the frustration of the African underdevelopment, he reflects about blind and sickening models of “progress” that do not show a continuity with the past and destroy more than what they preserve. In his only novel The Second Round, a physicist trained in Great Britain and victim of the so called “massacre of the soul” brought by westernization, returns to the capital of his homeland filled up with “noble ideas about the progress of Africa”, but ends accepting a job in a remote jungle hospital and therefore taking roots in the traditional experience
Última actualización: 28/06/2018