Chris Abani

Chris Abani

Kalakuta Republic

A beautiful work of art…elevates art and humanity above meanness and inhumanity.

World Literature Today

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Kalakuta Republic is a powerful collection of poems detailing the harrowing experiences endured by Abani and others at the hands of Nigeria’s military regime in the late 1980s. Abani’s poems are dedicated to those who shared in but did not live through the suffering. In them he describes the characters that people this dark world, from the prison inmates to their torturers, the generals. Kalakuta Republic is based on his experience as political prisoner between 1985 and 1991.

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An unheralded chunk of authentic literature

New Statesman

A brave and challenging book…I was moved as much by what the poems have achieved as by what they have rescued from that nightmare world. Reading, I found myself in tears.

Sunday Tribune

Stunning poems…Abani conveys the experience in words shaped into art and made unforgettable by their quietness.

New Humanist

Abani’s poems are the most naked, harrowing expression of prison life and political torture imaginable. Reading them is like being singed by a red hot iron.

— Harold Pinter

Abani’s …poems contain moments of grace, humanity and humor.

— Susannah Tarbush, Diwaniya

Abani’s poetry resonates with a devastating beauty which cuts through to the heart of human strength, survival and tyranny.


Chris has emerged with poems that are graceful pieces of art, almost ready to be hung in a gallery for others to come and enter them and rest in them and weep in them and admire them.

— Kwame Dawes, professor of English literature, University of Columbia, South Carolina, USA