By Chinonye Ekwaume-Ugwu
Everyone dies. Everything that has life must someday relinquish it. But that exit is never final. Plants and animals are generally converted into new states and reabsorbed into nature. Human beings remain alive in people’s memories for varying degrees of time. And if you leave a legacy behind, your life will truly begin after your physical death.
Thousands of scholars and and readers who encountered him through his literature retain him in their memories. They also transfer his existence to future generations looking for excellence in the arts.
Throughout his exemplary life, Clark touched on various issues affecting the globe. He displayed a thorough knowledge of his world through his poems.
His writing explored politics, arts and the socio-cultural character of humans. His intimacy with nature, conveyed via his poems, has made him a favourite of eco-conscious readers.
Rich ecological imagery
Clark’s exploration of the intersection between our natural environment and literature is an inspiration to writers and critics. He often found ways to accommodate nature, even when he addressed the mundane issues within politics and academia. His viewpoints can be found in his poetry collections The Casualties and Incidental Songs for Several Persons. His poem, The Usurpation, is a great example.
Clark’s constant ecological imagery shows great knowledge of, and strong attachment to, natural entities. In all their dealings, human beings operate within the natural realm, interacting with other non-human entities.
I revisited those poems 35 years later and realised the crucial influence of the natural environment in his work. Many of his poems set in the riverine areas of Nigeria’s Niger Delta, “embody environmental metaphors, capable of projecting authentic African eco-lit” according to a study of “natural trajectories” in the poems.
His exploration of nature in his poems stimulates a romantic awareness of the African ecosystem, that goes beyond the current agitations of environmental justice in Nigeria. They project 21st century African literary traditions beyond the domains of activism.
Clark’s works are multifaceted. His attachment to his home region, coupled with his training in the arts and the humanities may have conditioned him towards exploring nature in his works. And he did so alongside other nagging socio-political and economic themes that he equally projected.
. Chinonye Ekwaume-Ugwu is a Lecturer at University of Nigeria. This article was first published on The Conversation.