Intermediality and Visual Orature in Modern Nigerian Poetry in English

Ayodeji Isaac Shittu
Keywords: Visual Orature, Intermediality, Postcolonial Turn, Postmodernism, Modern Nigerian Poetry
Tropical Journal of Arts and Humanities 2020 2(1), 1-13. Published: July 16, 2020


The intermedial practice of incorporating visual art in verbal texts of Nigerian adult literature is a very recent and postmodern practice, dating from the mid-20th century. As an artistic practice that has its origin in indigenous artistry, modern Nigerian visual arts draw imaginative resources from indigenous verbal art forms. Therefore, it is not a surprise for visual artists to make attempts in their work to represent some of these verbal art forms. This paper explores instances of visual textualisation of orature in modern Nigerian poetry as a postmodern engagement of postcolonial experiences. The idea of visual orature is conceived from the observation that some of the visual art illustrations incorporated in modern Nigerian poetry in English were derived in essence from the pre-colonial traditional oral arts and imaginations. In some cases these artistic works are direct transpositions of oral history and narratives. Used as texts of indigenous collective episteme and consciousness, visual orature serves as a tool or semiotic system for outlining modern and postcolonial strategies for negotiating contemporary reality for the purpose of self-apprehension. This paper explores these instances in modern Nigerian poetry in English.