In Voices in the Rainbow, the poet-protagonist sees himself as the “griot of a threatened tradition.” The poems in this collection are therefore a heroic effort to rescue the ancestral oral tradition of bards and raconteurs from obsolescence by reinventing its tropes and techniques within the tradition of the written word. The use of musical accompaniment, of criers and choruses, and the resources and rhythms of song and chant as an integral part of these poems lend them a multi-layered dimension which further reinforces the stylistic virtuosity displayed in the author’s earlier-award winning collection of short stories, The Night Hides with a Knife.
The delight of the present volume is that it presents us with a palimpsest from which we can read back through contemporary poetic forms to an archaeology of the most ancient of poetic forms and devices. The range of voices extends from T.S. Eliot to Okigbo and a broad spectrum of new Nigerian poets. Poems take off from other poems, spiral into yet other poets to create a veritable symphony of voices as harmoniously blended together as the colours of the rainbow.
A highly innovative writer, Nduka Otiono jointly won the first Association of Nigerian Authors/Spectrum Prize with his controversial first book, The Night Hides with a Knife (1995). Currently Editor of The Post Express Literary Supplement (PELS), he is married and lives in Lagos.