Two Lyrical and Moving Poems From Nigerian Poets That Will Change Your Outlook

Two Lyrical and Moving Poems From Nigerian Poets That Will Change Your Outlook

Tuesday, 17 November, 2020

Poetry is an outlet to explore personal, social, political, and economic issues through imagery and emotion. In the five decades since Nigeria established its independence, poetry has been an integral part of its literary scene.

Nigerian poets are visionary writers and social reformers, artists who create moments of quiet reflection and loud rebellion. Here are two poems we love from two distinctive Nigerian writers.


Tomi Adesina

Tomi Adesina was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and is a fiction blogger and screenwriter. In 2013, she won the Nigerian Blog Awards for her blog fiction series, and her screenplay Fiesty John about cyberbullying won the 2015 Homevida Prize; watch the short film. She also won the Nigerian Writers Award for Best Young Writer in 2015, and her short stories have been featured in magazines across Africa. She lives in Lagos, where she is working on a new novel. Read her online fiction on her website.

photograph of elderly woman combing another woman's hair

Her poem ‘Part Me’ was inspired by the photo of these women.


Part Me by Tomi Adesina

  • Part my hair, part it in two.
  • Part my fears, take a part for you.
  • Part my body, find yourself in it.
  • Part my soul, build your home in me.
  • Part my hair, oil its land.
  • Part my hair, till its soil.
  • Part my hair, make me beautiful.
  • Part me, be a part of me.


Saddiq Dzukogi

Nigerian poet Saddiq Dzukogi is the author of Your Crib, My Qibla, coming from the University of Nebraska Press in 2021. The poems in the book are a tribute to his daughter Bahra who died in 2017. His poems have appeared in Oxford Review of Books, Kenyon Review, Oxford Poetry, Salamander, and many others. He was a finalist for the 2017 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and is currently a Ph.D. student in English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter.

There Is No Scar, Only Absence by Saddiq Dzukogi

  • After Assar, I sit on the tail end
  • of our house where birds nest
  • on a lemon tree. A snake

  • bunches half its body on a height,
  • while the rest creeps along a branch,
  • niggling its head sluggishly

  • into a nest, and as the yard grows quiet,
  • feasts on newly laid eggs. In my hands
  • a thread goes into another thread,

  • until a blanket grows out of my crochet
  • and rests on my lap. Night, like my blanket,
  • covers what light remains

  • of the day. I reach deep
  • into my throat and say a prayer;

  • of the many things that can kill me
  • death is not one of them. However,
  • the earth is the snake that will

  • consume me like an egg.
  • I’ll live longer than the silence a corpse
  • leaves behind.

  • Nothing of the eggs remains.
  • But, as for me, my stories will linger

  • like a neckbone
  • that can withstand a hangman’s noose.
  • Tomorrow, when mother bird returns,

  • I’ll repeat my wife’s mantra;
  • a scar is not a flaw, just a story
  • that sticks to our skin.

Top image courtesy of iyinoluwa John Onaeko/Unsplash.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

Nigeria embodies contrasts: colorful tribal culture and the tragedy of slavery, stunning natural beauty and the megacity of Lagos, Christianity and Islam, sweet puff puffs and habanero peppers. One constant: hustle.
Fact: Meat-on-a-stick is always the best meat. In Nigeria, skewered meat is called suya. Seasoned with garlic, ginger, smoked paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and peanuts, it's street food you can make at home.
The energy of Nigeria is infectious and undeniable. It's a long way to travel IRL, but you can take a virtual trip to its street markets, fashion shows, and book clubs in Lagos and beyond via these stunning photos.
Jollof rice is a delicious staple of Nigerian cuisine. Seasoned with tomatoes, red pepper, and chiles, it's simultaneously spicy, sweet, complex, and comforting — much like the heroines of 'Butter Honey Pig Bread.'

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter

Join our Substack to get our FREE newsletter with podcast updates and behind-the-scenes info join in fun chats about books and travel.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
Sign up for our free Substack!
follow us

Content on this site is ©2024 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.