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The Stylistic Significance of the Graphological Structure of Taban lo Liyong's "Another Nigger Dead" by Ogo A. Ofuani
Criticisms of Taban lo Liyong's poetic form, particularly in "Another Nigger Dead," have tended to disregard totally or to gloss over cursorily the peculiar nature of the typographic/graphological shape of his poems, dismissing it as merely incidental and nonfunctional.
Adrian Roscoe, for instance, sees him as "eccentric" and passes off the use of lowercase letters without punctuation as merely "curious." Roscoe does not consider the possibility of lo Liyong using lowercase letters in "Another Nigger Dead" for significant stylistic effects, especially since earlier, in "Frantz Fanon's Uneven Ribs", the poet had been more conventional in the use of forms that he now openly and constantly deviates from. In the same vein, Timothy Wangusa says that
"In form and expression he is among the very "freest" verse writers, defying all rules and guides. And yet a central preoccupation of his poetry is that of the very nature of poetry."
Recognizing lo Liyong's "preoccupation" with the nature of poetry is one thing, but realizing that it may be responsible for his own practice of the art - and that he expects his practice to be taken seriously - is another. Wangusa does come close to making an evaluation of the stylistic import of lo Liyong's "free" verse but shies away at the last moment.
In his review of the collection, Eldred Jones not only considers thematic issues but also ponders the linguistic significance of the medium. His evaluation, however, is marred by the imprecision that characterizes that of other critics. To Jones, the poet's ideas "sometimes straight, sometimes ironic, serious, parallel, contrasting, are massed together to produce a prickly, jumpy effect" in "Another Nigger Dead." About lo Liyong's graphical deviation, he observes that "for the eye alone the poetry seems to flow, but for everything else... lack of punctuation slows down comprehension." This suggests that lo Liyong's nonuse of punctuation is unnecessary nuisance.
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