Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Pronominal Group as Signals of Authority, Opposition and Solidarity in the Poetry of Two Modern African Poets

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Pronominal Group as Signals of Authority, Opposition and Solidarity in the Poetry of Two Modern African Poets

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper examines the use of pronominal forms as signals of authority, opposition and solidarity in Obu Udeozo's Excursions and Cyclone and Tanure Ojaide's The Fate of Vultures. The pronominal group expresses the role relationship between and among participants in a discourse. These poets use pronominal forms specifically to identify the various 'speaking voices' in their poetry collections and to reveal their ideological positions. They also use these pronominal forms to enhance the ideational content of their poems. The issues raised in the poems and the events and situations described concern 'us', 'you' and 'me'.

My examination of the exploitation of personal forms in this paper derives from the need to use the tools of linguistics (stylistics) to explicate the poetry collections already highlighted. It is also motivated by the fact that despite their simplistic nature, the pronominal forms are meaning-signalling devices in the poetry collections. In our adoption of a linguistic approach, we are motivated by the opinion that linguistics can be a useful aid to the analysis of texts and can complement the efforts of literary criticism.

Key words: Solidarity; Opposition; Authority; Pronominal; Group and language

INTRODUCTION

Language is the basic tool of poetry. The language of poetry differs in essence from the language of other genres of literature. Although, it sometimes seems difficult to classify certain forms of literature as prose, drama or poetry. This is due to the overlapping of features. However, in poetry, it is common for poets to take advantage of poetic licence to demonstrate unrestrained creativity. Through the creative use of language, poetry achieves communicative and aesthetic effects. In the light of this, Adejare Oluwole (1984) describes poetry as 'one variety of language where the fusion of language as an art and language as a means of communication is fully realized '(p.13).

Like any other linguistic event, poetry does not exist in isolation from other aspects of human social behaviour; it is influenced by a number of social factors such as cultural, social, historical, political and economic events etc. In other words, in addition to making use of language in a unique and creative way, poetry as a form of literature often mirrors the society that produces it. The poetry of Obu Udeozo and Tanure Ojaide command interest in this regard. Their poetry demonstrates these two peculiar characteristics of poetic discourse. In other words, their works provide a good example of poetry that combines social message with a characteristically unique medium of expression. It would seem that these poets see themselves as people with a mission to awaken the social consciousness of their readers.

Their thematic concerns are issues of social relevance like the oppressor/ oppressed dichotomy, corruption, dictatorship, mediocrity and hypocrisy. They also treat events of contemporary significance in Nigeria and other countries: war, upheavals, elections, struggle, politics, religion, governance, love, hardships etc. They therefore use poetry as a rewarding channel through which the people (the common man, the oppressed, the down trodden and the disposed) can be salvaged in a society where frustration, abject poverty and other social realities survive unchecked.

Udeozo and Ojaide are contemporary Nigerian (Modern African) poets whose works highlight lavish display of grandeur. The reader is often carried away by the import and power of the poems. Their poetry, exhibit the creative use of language and are socially oriented. Their works can be seen as poetic excursion across diverse array of issues in contemporary Nigerian society in particular and other countries in general.

My interest in this paper is to examine the use of pronominal forms as signals of authority, opposition and solidarity in Udeozo's Excursions (1993) and Cyclone (2005), and Ojaide's The Fate of Vultures (1990). …

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