Other literary forms

(World Poets and Poetry)

Christopher Okigbo (oh-KIHG-boh) is known primarily for his poetry.


(World Poets and Poetry)

During his short lifetime, Christopher Okigbo produced a small but significant body of work that stands as a legacy for poetry, particularly Nigerian poetry. His work has been celebrated by critics, discussed at university campuses, and examined in scholarly journals. His poetry is often included in Commonwealth poetry anthologies, and an annual poetry award, the All-Africa Okigbo Prize for Poetry, was created in his honor. In 2007, his work was included in Crossroads, an anthology marking the fortieth anniversary of his death and containing verses from more than one hundred Nigerian poets. That same year, an international conference discussing Okigbo’s life and works was held in Boston.

In 1966, Okigbo was awarded the Langston Hughes Award for African Poetry by a panel of judges at the Festival of Black African Arts in Dakar. The award was refused by the poet on the grounds that it was awarded based on race. Okigbo was also recognized posthumously with the National Order of Merit of Biafra for his defense of the nation, an effort that cost him his life.


(World Poets and Poetry)

Echeruo, Michael J. C. A Concordance to the Poems of Christopher Okigbo: With a Complete Text of the Poems, 1957-1967. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2008. This is a comprehensive tool for anyone interested in Okigbo’s work, as it provides not only access to all of Okigbo’s poems in one volume but also a concordance of his imagery and style.

Egudu, Romanus. “Christopher Okigbo and the Growth of Poetry.” In European-Language Writing in Sub-Saharan Africa, edited by Albert S. Gerard and György M. Vajda. Vol. 2. Budapest, Hungary: Coordinating Committee of a Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages, 1986. Egudu seeks to explain Okigbo’s poetry and its modernist components in the wake of the Biafran war.

Mazrui, Ali Al’Amin. The Trial of Christopher Okigbo. London: Heinemann, 1971. Mazrui’s novel imagines Okigbo on trial for neglecting to put his art before all else.

Nwakanma, Obi. Christopher Okigbo, 1930-1967: Thirsting for Sunlight. London: James Currey, 2010. A modern biography of the poet’s life and overall contribution to literature.

Nwonga, Donatus Ibe. Critical Perspectives on Christopher Okigbo. Washington, D.C.: Three Continents Press, 1984. Although this is an older book, it is quite comprehensive and discusses many of Okigbo’s poems individually.

Okafor, Dubem. The Dance of Death: Nigerian History and Christopher Okigbo’s Poetry. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1998. A historical look at Nigeria at the time of the Biafran crisis. Okigbo’s poetry is discussed in depth, especially the later poems.