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  Femi Osofisan
  Tanure Ojaide
  Brian Chikwava
  Hugh Hodge
  Helon Habila
  Muhammad Jalal A. Hashim
  Ogaga Ifowodo
  Edwin Gaarder
  Harry Garuba
  Toyin Adewale-Gabriel
  Zukiswa Wanner
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  Maxim Uzoatu
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  E. E. Sule
  Beverley Nambozo
  Obi Nwakanma
  Matthew Dodwell
  Ikhide Ikheloa
  Afam Akeh
  Femi Oyebode
  Chika Unigwe
  Linda Chase
  Mohamed Bushara
  Wale Okediran
  Niran Ok
  Remi Raji
  Ahmed Maiwada

  Laura King

  Chuma Nwokolo


Linda Chase    

Two Poems

Linda Chase is a poet and creative writing teacher. She was born in Long Island, New York, and her most recent poetry volume is Extended Family (Carcanet Press). She lives in the UK.


  Tuning Your Cello

The sounds have been in my head since childhood
so, don’t worry, it’s not a hardship
for me to draw the bow across the strings
and listen.

Harmony and discord are nearly the same
and you wonder what I will change.
Suddenly I grab one of the ebony pegs
like the ear of a naughty boy.

‘Can’t you hold on to anything?’
I scold.
But the string has no idea
where it has strayed, what has been lost.



Cellar Dance

‘A man dancing naked in the cellar’
is not a story to dine out on.
It is just one of the secrets of the house
kept in the dark, next to the laundry room,
though lots of people saw him.

I mean he had music, for Christ’s sake
and rows of benches for the audience.
It was no accident, no chance event,
not something I stumbled on in the dark
without being led to the witness seat
by a young man with a torch
who invited me to sit down, and I did.

I could have teased you, made a story
of the gradual unfolding—for instance,
how I first saw his shoulder
with the tiniest bit of light behind it
and I could see he was not wearing a shirt.
He was sitting behind a big box
which let only his upper torso show.
I didn’t give the rest of his body a thought.

Not until he stood up, holding a tiny red light
in each of his hands.
No. Light is too strong a word—
just parts of the dark
which were no longer black,
but had turned red instead.

He danced with his arms in the air
like a brand new bear in the forest,
as if he knew no other creatures were looking.

Of course I looked. Everyone did—
quite hard too, forcing our eyes around the dim
edge of his body against the flaking cellar walls
to see what parts of him flounced to the music
describing a man, only a man
dancing naked in the cellar.


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