THE POET AND THE ENVIRONMENT
1.1 Background to the Study
Since prehistory, literature and the arts have been drawn to portrayals of physical and human environmental interactions. The modern environmentalist movement as it emerged first in the late nineteenth century and in its more recent incarnation, in the twentieth (20th) century, gave rise to a rich array of fictional and non-fictional writings concerned with humans’ toward the natural world. Only since the early 1990s, however, has the long standing interest of literature studies in these matters generated the initiative most commonly known as “ecocriticism”, an eclectic and loosely coordinated movement whose contributions, thus far, have been most visible within its home discipline of literature, but whose interests and alliances extend across various art forms and medium (Ezeochi, 2008).
Therefore, it could be said that art essentially, is committed to practical social realities, therefore, writers (or critics) adopt different literary approaches and strategies to register their messages. The artist is saddled with the task of practically assessing the contemporary situation in society with the mind of identifying and proffering solutions to the different prevailing contradiction situations. Accordingly, literature and environmental studies commonly known or called “ecocriticism” or environmental criticism, in analogy to the more general term literary criticism, comprise and eclectic, pluriform and cross disciplinary initiative that aims to explore the environmental dimensions of literature and other creative mediums in a spirit of environmental concern not limited to any one method or commitment. Ecocriticism begins from the conviction that the arts of imagination and the study thereof – by virtue of their grasp of the power of word, story and image to reinforce, enliven and contribute significantly to the understanding of environmental problem: the multiple forms of ecodegradation that afflict planet earth today.
With this view, ecocriticism concurs with other branches of environmental humanities such as humanistic geography, among others, in holding that environmental phenomena must be comprehended and that today’s burgeoning array of environmental concerns must be addressed qualitatively as well as quantitatively. This agreement is, therefore, fundamental to the remediation and breakthrough as well as strengthening of policy implementation which is the impetus of creative imagination, vision, will and belief. Therefore, the combination of poetry and the experiment of literature and other mediums, can offer unique resources for activating concern and creative thinking about the planet’s environmental future. However, by themselves (only poetry), creative depictions of environmental harm are unlikely to free societies from lifestyles that depend on radically transforming ecosystems. But reflecting on works of imagination may prompt intensified concern about the consequences of such choices and possible alternatives to them (Wikipedia).
Ecocriticism is, therefore, the study of literature and the environment from an interdisciplinary point of view, where literature scholars analyze texts that illustrate environmental concerns and examine the various ways literature treats the subject of nature. Some ecocritics brainstorm possible solutions for the correction of the contemporary environmental situations. Ecocriticism is a broad approach that is known by a number of other designations such as: “green studies”, “ecopoetics” and “environmental literary criticism”. In comparison with other political forms of criticism, there has been relatively little dispute about the moral and philosophical aims of ecocriticism, although its scope has broadened rapidly from nature writing, romantic poetry and canonical literature to take film, television, theater and animal stories and narratives as well as an extra-ordinary range of literary texts. At the same time ecocriticism has borrowed methodologies and theoretically informed approaches liberally from other fields of literary, social and scientific study (Buel).
Accordingly, this work seeks to examine the social and environmental injustices through Ojaide’sDelta Blues and OgagaIfowodo’sThe Oil Lamp. The research sets out to examine how the two poets’ works are maximally opposed to inhumanity which has become the recurrent index in the lives of man and the insensitivity that has adorned the attitude of the oppressors in their relationships with the environment. Ojaide and Ifowodo, therefore, by implication of their poems call for social and attitudinal change from the oppressive tendencies unleashed against the environment through their poetry.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In response to the persisting environmental crisis occasioned by man’s activities of depleting of earth’s physical and aerial layers, this research seeks to examine the inherent problem of environmental exploitation. Such exploitation may include: gas flaring, environmental pollution, indiscriminate waste disposal, air and water pollution, deforestation and other forms of environmental destruction. This research, using Ojaide’sDelta Blues and Ifowodo’sThe Oil Lamp will also pay close attention to the elements and imagery which describe these forms of exploitations in the two texts as the yard stick to solving this problem.
1.3 Aims and Objectives
The aims and objectives of this research include:
To identify Ojaide’s and Ifowodo’s poetry as viable tools for achieving environmental justice.
To examine Ojaide’s and Ifowodo’s style and techniques in presenting environmental problems.
To justify the suitability of ecocritical theory as a tool for interpretation of literary works such as poetry.
For the purpose of this research, selected poems from Ojaide’sDelta Blues and Ifowodo’sThe Oil Lamp shall constitute the primary source of data from which analysis will be done. The library will serve as the major source of information for this research, while books, journals, reviews and notes on related areas shall be adequately consulted to further strengthen the level of information used for the research. Additionally, the internet will also be consulted to further enrich the contents of the research.
1.5 Scope of the Study
This study shall primarily concentrate on ecocritical study through examination of TanureOjaide’sDelta Blues and OgagaIfowodo’sThe Oil Lamp. It shall also consider any issue related to the concept of ecocriticism or environmental studies.
1.6 Limitation of the Study
By reason of the constraints placed by time and money, the researcher will not be able to spread the scope of this study to include oral interview of the poets whose works are used as study case. Therefore, the researcher will limit his research to the analysis of the works of the authors.
1.7 Significances of the Study
The significance of this study shall be its overall contribution to scholarship. Accordingly, scholars of literature in general and those in ecocriticism in particular as well as environmental campaigners are likely to benefit from this research. Additionally, those who may wish to work using ecocritical framework to analyze other texts are equally likely to be beneficiaries of this research. In other words, this research will contribute to the body of knowledge toward this direction.