Towards Environmental Justice: An Ecopoetical Reading of Ikiriko and Otto’s Poetry
Keywords:ecology, ecopoetry, environmental degradation, 21st century, Ikiriko, Otto
Ecology is a study that transcends disciplinary boundaries. It has roots in the sciences but enjoys a number of representations in the humanities, specifically through literature. Several African writers have in their imaginative works, portrayed the devastating condition of the environment in a 21st century technological-driven world and also proposed solutions to this malady. In fact, environmental degradation has become a global issue, hence, the pressing need for a lasting panacea. Attempts at literary ecocriticism in Nigerian literature have largely focused on prose fictional works and the poetry collections of older and second generation poets like Tanure Ojaide. Consequently, little research has been carried out on the representation of environmental degradation in the poetry of more contemporary poets like Ibiwari Ikiriko and Albert Otto. This paper therefore, is a critical, close reading of Ikiriko and Otto’s poetry engagement with environmental degradation. The paper adopts the notion of ecopoetry from the ecocritical theory, which accounts for poetry foregrounding questions of ethics in relation to the environment. It acts as a reminder to humans of their responsibility towards the earth and challenges the existing status-quo that has the environment and the common people at the mercy of the ruling class. In this paper, Ikiriko’s Oily Tears of the Delta and Otto’s Letter from the Earth are subjected to literary and critical analysis to examine their preoccupation with the destructive onslaught on nature, and the traumatic experiences of the marginalised. Amidst the environmental depredation, the poets express hope and revolutionary fervour towards the rejuvenation of their society.