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Abstract

In her paper, "Postcolonial African Consciousness and the Poetry of Agostinho Neto," Irene Marques introduces the magic words of a great poet with the question: can poetry carry enough sorrow, enough strength, enough fire, enough love, enough wisdom, enough care, and enough horror to penetrate the hearts and the souls of the oppressed and the oppressors so that both will desperately want to escape their sinister labels? For Marques, this question represents an old quandary and one that many of us wish could be answered with a simple yes. Marques analyses Neto's poetry in the context of littérature engagé: if only the cries, putrid smells, and bloodshed were allowed to penetrate the thick wall of the utilitarian human mind, if only emotion had a little more room to breathe freely and then, perhaps, could poetry perform fresh, new, and potent miracles. Marques argues that Agostinho Neto was not only the first president of independent Angola, he was also a great poet who put his art at the service of Angola's anti-colonial revolution and struggle for cultural and political independence. Neto was a man whose artistic life is connected deeply to and inseparable from his socio-political environment. Through an analysis of various poems taken from Neto's volume Sacred Hope, Marques attempts to answer questions such as how exactly is Neto's poetry interconnected with the socio-political condition of his country, his people, and himself, what are some of the most successful poetic strategies used by Neto to fight the Portuguese colonial power, can one say that his poetry is the very arena where a new African consciousness is being created/recreated, and is Neto's poetic enterprise sufficient for the "real" revolution?

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