Other literary forms

(World Poets and Poetry)

Kofi Awoonor (AH-wew-nohr) is an accomplished writer in a range of genres. He has shown a lifelong interest in the oral poetry of his Ewe-speaking Anlo people and acted as translator of this culture’s oral history and literature. His best-known work in this vein is his translation of three modern Ewe poets in Guardians of the Sacred Word: Ewe Poetry (1974). He is well known as a political essayist, a role reflected in his larger nonfiction titles, which include The Breast of the Earth: A Survey of the History, Culture, and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara (1975), The Ghana Revolution: Background Account from a Personal Perspective (1984), and Africa, the Marginalized Continent (1994). He is also a capable fiction writer, with works that include This Earth, My Brother (1971) and Comes the Voyager at Last: A Tale of Return to Africa (1992).


(World Poets and Poetry)

Kofi Awoonor has been honored with several awards and fellowships. He held Rockefeller, Longmans, and Fairfield Fellowships and won the University of Ghana’s Gurrey Prize for creative writing in 1959 and for poetry in 1979, the National Book Council award for poetry in 1979, the 1988 Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the African region, and numerous other honors, including the Columbia University Translation Award, Brazil’s Cruzeiro do Sol, and the Ghana Association of Writers Distinguished Author Award.


(World Poets and Poetry)

Awoonor, Kofi. “African Literature: The Common Tongue—A Conversation with Kofi Awoonor.” Interview by John Goldblatt. Transition 75/76 (1997): 358. Awoonor explores the roots and commonalities in African literature.

_______. “Kofi Awoonor.” Interview. In Palaver: Interviews with Five African Writers in Texas, edited by Bernth Lindfors. Austin: African and Afro-American Research Institute, University of Texas, 1972. Awoonor discusses the phases of his poetic development, as well as other topics.

_______. “Kofi Awoonor: In Person.” Interview. In In Person: Achebe, Awoonor, and Soyinka at the University of Washington, edited by Karen L. Morrell. Seattle: African Studies Program, Institute for Comparative and Foreign Area Studies, University of Washington, 1975. Awoonor discusses his work, his life, and African poetry.

Egudu, Romanus. Four Modern West African Poets. New York: NOK, 1977. Examines the etiology of conflict in the poetry of Kofi Awoonor and cultural oppression in the poetry of Christopher Okigbo, John Pepper Clark, and Lenrie Peters.

Ojaide, Tanure. “New Trends in Modern African Poetry.” Research in African Literatures 26, no. 1 (Spring, 1995): 4. Examines the ways in which younger African poets have rejected many of the poetic practices associated with the early Awoonor, Christopher Okigbo, Wole Soyinka, and others. Among the characteristics of the new poetry are the national experience, indigenous and oral modes, and a loosening and diversification of language.

Roscoe, Adrian A. Mother Is Gold: A Study in West African Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Examines the roots and historical criticism of a range of West African authors, including Awoonor. Includes bibliography.

Wilkinson, Jane. Talking with African Writers: Interviews with African Poets, Playwrights, and Novelists. Studies in African Literature. London: J. Currey, 1992. Provides a discussion of the history and criticism of African literature as well as a series of interviews with African writers, including Awoonor. Bibliographical references and index.