Sanctificum

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Copper Canyon Press, 2010 - Poetry - 105 pages
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“Abani . . . explores place and humor, exile and freedom with poems of experience and imagination . . . [he] enters the wound with a boldness that avoids nothing. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal

“Stunning poems.” —New Humanist

A self-described “zealot of optimism,” poet and novelist Chris Abani bravely travels into the charged intersections of atrocity and love, politics and religion, loss and renewal. In poems of devastating beauty, he investigates complex personal history, family, and romantic love.

Sanctificum, Abani's fifth collection of poetry, is his most personal and ambitious book. Utilizing religious ritual, the Nigerian Igbo language, and reggae rhythms, Abani creates a post-racial, liturgical love song that covers the globe from Abuja to Los Angeles.

I say hibiscus and mean innocence.
I say guava and mean childhood.
I say mosquito netting and mean loss.
I say father and it means only that.
Happen that we all dream, but the sea is only sea.
Happen that we call upon God but it is only a breeze
ruffling a prayer book in a small church
where benches groan in the heat . . .

Chris Abani was born in Nigeria in 1966 and published his first novel at sixteen. He was imprisoned for his writings, and after his release he eventually moved to the United States. He is the author of ten books of poetry and fiction, including the best-selling novel GraceLand. He teaches at the University of California-Riverside and lives in Los Angeles.

 

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Contents

Sacrament
11
Divination
17
Revenant
23
Elephants
29
Descent
37
Processional
43
GodsCountry
51
Pilgrimage
57
Benediction
69
Histories
75
Dew
87
Nomad
91
Renewal
95
About the Author
105
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About the author (2010)

Chris Abani was born in Nigeria in 1966 and published his first novel at sixteen. He has been imprisoned, tortured, and sentenced to death for his literary activities. After fleeing Nigeria he continued to write, and is the author of ten books of poetry and fiction. He teaches at UC Riverside.

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