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1 Christopher Okigbo created and lived his myth. As Uzoma Esonwanne (2000: 1-2) argues, the meagerness of biographical sources can generate myths about a poet like Okigbo. But such myths can also be influenced by the poet's own attitudes. Chinua Achebe ends his preface to Don 'tLet Him Die (1978), a collection that asserts the triumph of poetry over death, with the rather curious statement that "Okigbo had taken care to ensure that he will not die" (1978: ix)--a figurative reference to posthumous memory and reputation as a response to the depth of the poet's friendships and literary achievement. It is, of course, an ironical statement to make about one who seems to have consciously courted death in literature and in life--that is, in poetic image and theme as well as in the decision to fight at the war front. (1) What is curious here is the idea that Okigbo consciously cultivated his posthumous reputation. It is possible to produce evidence in support of this statement; for example, that Okigbo was conscious of the importance of his poetry because he probably felt, like Keats, that he would be numbered among the poets of his race. Unlike most African poets, he recorded the dates of composition for virtually all his published poems, thus inviting posterity to pay attention to the historical phases of his work. The attention that he paid to the style and structure of his poems has been much studied and imitated. Achebe and Okafor's 1978 collection probably contains many more instances of the replication of phrases, images and other elements of his poetry than tributes to any other African writer. (2)

Professional & Technical
September 22
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