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Traces of a Life: A Collection of Elegies and Praise Poems
In Traces of a Life, Busia is starting a new genre in praise poetry as a modern griót. Grióts are trained oral historians – key figures in West African society who carry the cultural knowledge and identity of each people. To quote Stephanie Newell’s appellation, Busia considers herself amongst those “grióts with pens in their hands”. The collection is a refreshing departure from the conventional form of written poetry while incorporating aspects of orality in written form.
This collection of poems of lamentation and celebration were written and dedicated to individuals – some famous (including Nelson Mandela and John Lennon) some unknown – (including family members, friends and work colleagues) whose lives touched the author in a profound way. “I discovered,” writes Busia, “that these poems when placed together not only record the lives of those to whom the poems are dedicated, but in the end trace my own.”
Key Selling Points
- The poems in this collection affirm Busia as one of the most important voices of her generation of modern poets – a scholar and teacher interested in the contemporary aspects of tradition in celebration and lamentation verse.
- The poems have a universal appeal and are dedicated to legends – present and past such as Nelson Mandela, John Lennon and the feminist icon Audre Lorde.
- This book will lend itself to enriching history and literature courses in schools, colleges and universities as well as being appreciated by readers who enjoy learning more about famous as well as ordinary lived lives.
- Busia delves into the turbulent years of Ghana’s past through the era of military dictatorships to attaining the current democracy and enlightens the reader about the havoc this period wreaked on ordinary families in a way that has not been properly documented in Ghana’s history.
- The text includes a Preface contextualising the collection and an Postlude entitled “What is Africa to Me” examining the importance of laying our dead to rest in a universal context through verse (with examples from Africa) to further illuminate the text while simultaneously celebrating the envisioned timelessness of this collection.
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Abena P. A. Busia is associate professor in the Department of Literatures in English for Race and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, New Jersey. Widely published in the fields of Colonial Discourse and Literatures of Africa and the Black World, she is also author of an earlier volume of poems, Testimonies of Exile (1990).