Hilary Plum: Abortion is Thinking. Thinking is Banned.

Nan Goldin, Amanda crying on my bed, Berlin, 1992. Source: nytimes.com 

When Roe fell, I felt what lots of people felt. My feelings were common.

I felt that the lives of everyone I knew had been made possible, in the forms we know as ourselves, by access to reproductive healthcare. Everyone, most especially women and trans and nonbinary people. The job I have—the shape and status and income and independence of my working life—was barely available to those of my mother’s generation and unheard of to my grandmother’s. This is all so obvious it’s almost embarrassing to state, but apparently these days we must. Contraception and abortion are perfectly material. But the profound ways that access to them shapes us—the structures of our relationships and workplaces and society and politics, the nature of our opportunities, our ideas of who we are—aren’t easy to quantify, or even to think.

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Tọ́pẹ́-ẸniỌbańkẹ́ Adégòkè: Kelvin Kellman’s Inheritance

Kevin Kellman. Source: solsticelitmag.org

At any time, it has been an interesting exercise doing a study of Nigerian poetry, rewarding for anyone who appreciates the genre, because, no matter your taste or expectation, you are sure to find a poet that caters to it. You only need to pick a poet or period. Here is why Kelvin Kellman catches our attention: to sample his work will expand our understanding of contemporary Nigerian poetry.

To begin with, we must locate Kellman within the literary tradition he inherited, between the 1950s and 1980s, the period that signalled modern African and Nigerian poetry. Poetry was basically a vehicle of decolonisation and radicalism for poets disenchanted with colonialism and the failures associated with postcolonialism: leadership corruption, military interregnum and general social decadence. Texts such as West African Verse (1967) edited by Donatus Nwoga, Labyrinths (1969) by Christopher Okigbo, Poems of Black Africa (1975) edited by Wole Soyinka, The Poet Lied (1980) by Odia Ofeimun, Voices from the Fringe: An ANA Anthology of New Nigerian Poetry (1988) edited by Harry Garuba cannot be forgotten. They have become touchstone marking those times and beyond. But since the year 2000, following the military handover of power to civilian rule in 1999, the new millennium has provided a new context for Nigerian poets, inspiring entirely new themes in addition to reinforcing older concerns. Of course, by the middle of the second decade of the millennium, an indisputable canon had emerged, The Sahara Testaments by Tade Ipadeola, as espoused by the foundational critic of Nigerian literature, Dan Izevbaye.

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Youssef Rakha: Who the Fuck Is Charlie

miraj-nama_of_shah_rukh_1-1490ba5a0977120034b

From the Miraj Nama of Shah Rukh, 15th century, showing the Prophet Muhammad astride his Buraq. Source: studyblue.com

The mere idea of contributing to the Charlie Hebdo colloquy is a problem. It’s a problem because, whether as a public tragedy or a defense of creative freedom, the incident was blown out of all proportion. It’s a problem because it’s been a moralistic free-for-all: to express solidarity is to omit context, to forego the meaning of your relation to the “slain” object of consensus, to become a hashtag. It’s a problem above all because it turns a small-scale crime of little significance outside France into a cultural trope.

Charlie Hebdo is not about the senseless (or else the political) killing of one party by another. It’s about a Platonic evil called Islam encroaching on the  peaceful, beneficent world order created and maintained by the post-Christian west. Defending the latter against the former, commentators not only presume what will sooner or later reduce to the racial superiority of the victim. They also misrepresent the perpetrator as an alien force independent of that order.

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