This paper discusses challenges of the relative neglect of African poetry in literary and popular culture studies by attending to not only the primary texts, but the reading cultures they foster. Taking a diachronic and comparative approach, three serial publication formats across the past seventy years are examined: the Francophone African magazine Bingo from the 1950s to the 70s, the multiple printings of Chinua Achebe’s poetry from the 1970s to the early 2000s, and emerging digital platforms in the 21st century. In each case, the rhetorical strategy of parataxis, or the juxtaposition of various forms and genres, contributes to the literary value placed on the poetry and its circulation among diverse audiences. The paper reconsiders the popular as a category of analysis that challenges a truism of African expressive culture—ascribing orality to tradition and written texts to elite structures—by attending to lay reading publics and their energetic engagement with the academy.


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pp. 70-93
Launched on MUSE
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