Abstract: How does poetic language propel the imagination of writing oneself as traces that dis/appear in the lives of others? I grapple with this question to examine the relationship between self writing and poetic language in Abena Busia’s Traces of a Life: A Collection of Elegies and Praise Poems. The poetry collection beautifully weaves together portraits of many lives encountered through the lived experience of movement across borders. I want to specifically ask: What does it mean to write about oneself without authorizing oneself? Why is it that the un/conscious desire to de-authorize oneself is central to this poetic work whose title promises the vision of “a life”? And how does this de-authorization of oneself open up the self to others in haptical relationality? In this presentation, I will argue that the poetics of hapticality generates the modality through which the self in figured and refigured through others in Busia’s poetic language. I will read the striking figuration of “the hand” of the self as a metaphoric trope that reaches to and for others. I will also make an analytic move that imagines the figure of the hand as the writing hand that extends its touch to re/claim other histories and other subjectivities. Through poetic language, writing becomes an act of touching others as a radical poetics of hapticality that imagines the ethics of intersubjective understanding in the world of movement.
Bio: Gabriel Bámgbóṣé is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University, New Jersey. He taught in the Department of English at Tai Solarin University of Education, Nigeria. He also taught Yorùbá as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) in Africana Studies Program at New York University, New York. His interests in scholarship include African literature, folklore, and popular culture; African women's poetry; feminist, postcolonial, and decolonial thoughts. Bámgbóṣé is also a poet and the founding editor of Ijagun Poetry Journal. His work has appeared in Comparative Literature and Culture, Contemporary Humanities, The African Symposium, Footmarks: Poems on One Hundred Years of Nigeria’s Nationhood, Ake Review, The Criterion, and Journal of Social and Cultural Analysis among others. He is the author of the poetry collection, Something Happened After the Rain.