The possibility that the present is a continued struggle against nihilism, marked by the will to create, offers important questions about identity and heritage: what does it mean to exist in the present? Out of what matter do we form our identities? How are we different now than in the past? And, finally, what “pasts” unite us, and which legacies might we still identify with, even if we never experienced them? Charged with the political, Ex Nihilo is a poetic text that considers how art can respond to the annihilation of particular identities struggling to exist in an impossibly post-racial world, framed against the possibility that art and identity are creations ex nihilo (Latin for “out of nothing”) whose immateriality allow us to engage in endless discursive creativity, as we travel and endlessly (re)create ourselves.
Ex Nihilo was longlisted for the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize for Young Writers. The £30,000 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize, is one of the largest prizes for young writers and is awarded to the best published or produced literary work in the English language, written by an author under 30. This year’s long list consists of 16 literary works – poetry, novels and a play – by writers from Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States, South Africa and Somalia.
Ex Nihilo is a bold, beautiful, and timely collection of poetry. Deeply imbued with a rhythm as deep as Langston’s rivers, Adebe D.A. choreographs her words to dance on and off the page — her canvas. A remarkable remix of language and history, Ex Nihilo moves us to places we have not yet considered. A call to both thought and action, Adebe confronts and celebrates her polychromatism. She is a major voice of a new generation.
At once bristling and lyrical, intimate and political, Adebe’s persona in this courageous debut collection of poems vacillates between seemingly irreconcilable poses: artist and academic, activist and sensualist, innovator and traditionalist. As she confesses in the poem “Colour Lessons”, she’d like to be everything. Herein the reader will discover the richness of mixed legacies, competing voices, and the joys and burdens that come with them.
The poems delight in the play of line against idea in a vexed terrain of politics and feeling; history and the contemporary search here for new images. A poet of great promise.
Ex Nihilo troubles the waters of identity, opens the borders of literary precedence and official “canon” and is straight from the hip. It is fierce, streetwise poetry, with “a beauty of incongruence.”
These lyrics dare to “bring da noise” – not only the funk and blues of race snafus, but also the exquisite soul sound of intellectual analysis, harmonizing rhythmic lines and gritty insights. They come from a woman who knows the intricate gradations connecting black skin to white, pop culture to academia, and links sophisticated analysis with the verve and drive of performance poetry.
About the Author
Adebe D. A. is a writer whose words travel between Toronto and New York City. She recently completed her MA at York University, where she also served as Assistant Editor for the arts and literary journal, Existere. Her work has been published in various North American sources, such as Canadian Woman Studies Journal, The Claremont Review, Canadian Literature, CV2 and The Toronto Star. She won the Toronto Poetry Competition in 2005 to become Toronto’s first Junior Poet Laureate. Ex Nihilo is her debut collection.
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