To an English Friend in Africa

Students from Wren’s December 2017 Art of Speaking Poetry class — Jenn Rajala, Christine Rinaldi, Holly Miller, Kathy Zerlin, and Matthew Greif — perform To an English Friend in Africa, a poem by Ben Okri.


From Wren: “This poem, by Ben Okri, was a joyful, inspired moment of collective creativity.

Jenn Rajala brought two poems to class and couldn’t decide which to do.  After she performed a Walt Whitman piece, we entertained the idea of having her also read this poem by Okri because we all fell in love with the profoundly important, yet basic message.

However, it didn’t seem quite right to me that she would do two poems and everyone else do one, so I asked how many stanzas were in this poem. Luckily, there was the perfect amount of beautiful stanzas for everyone, so the group gathered around the microphone and each person spoke their lines with truth and heart.  It was a special moment of spontaneous bonding that we pass along to you.

“Be grateful for life as you live it.
And may a wonderful light
Always guide you on the unfolding road.”

NOTE: Though the recording mentions Unfolding Road as the title, after the class, I did further research to find this poem and it is actually entitled, “To An English Friend in Africa” from the book, An African Elegy (1992), and is longer than the version we recorded here.”

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