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African Poems Volume One: Àṣẹ Òrìṣà!: A Praise Anthology to Yorùbá Orishas, Rituals, Traditions and Wisdom

In the literate tradition of poetry, the poet's appeal to an audience is dual: namely, auditory and visual, the sound of words as spoken, as well as the words as set on paper. Today, in view of the modern world of increasing digital technology, the consequent tendency of the reader has shifted to reading poems privately, in their nooks/tablets, rather than listening to them at poetry recitals. Few authors, still venturing into the world of the printed pages, manage to keep alive the magic of the art of reading poetry directly from a physical book. In honor of this fading art, author Alex Cuoco created the African Poems Series to put into print a form of African art, the Yorùbá oral tradition of Oríkì, with the hopes of distancing it from the list of items threatened to fall into extinction. This poetry edition brings the reader a repertoire of magical evocations, startling imagery, mythological allusions, reclamations, outrages, reasoning and wisdom, all against the backdrop of Yorùbá poetry which is one of the world's most fascinating literary traditions. African Poems Volume One: A Praise Anthology to Yorùbá Orishas, Rituals, Traditions and Wisdom will delight the readers with its wealth of information on Yorùbá Òrìṣà religious beliefs that is presented in a spirited poetic form. This Anthology contains eight chapters and 317 poems in total. Chapter one, being the most extensive one, entitled: Praise to the Orishas, provides portraits of poetic praises, based on traditional Yorùbá Oríkì to different Òrìṣà, divinities of the Yorùbá pantheon. The following seven themed chapters, Divine Metamorphosis, Power and Traditions, Ritual Rising, Awaking the Spirits, Of Gods and Man, Call of the Gods and Reclaiming the Soil, contain sixteen poems each, embracing a variety of themes concerning different aspects of Yorùbá traditional culture, rituals, traditions, social aspects and wisdom, written mostly, in free style poetry.

Reviews

This is a superb collection of poetry highlighting Yoruba Orishas and African rituals in poetic form. Most poignant is perhaps the last chapter which discusses in poetic form the attempt of many to de-root Africa from its traditions. Touching are the poems: "Do Not Cry," "Sacred Grounds," and "Bellowing" among others which show how Western Culture at times attacked tradition and profited from slavery. Truly an interesting look at the continent and its rich culture. A perfect collection for African Studies, Literature and History as a point of reference which would provoke lively discussions. Alex Cuoco also provides a detailed glossary of terms and there are interesting photographs contained from what his personal collection. This is a must read for readers interested in Orisha, West African Culture, its history and traditions. Very informative and clear work.

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