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Jide Salawu’s poetry book ‘Contraband Bodies’ acquired by Canadian publisher

Contraband Bodies, a new poetry book by Jide Salawu, a Nigerian author, has been acquired by NeWest Press Canada.

In a statement on Tuesday, Pelumi Salako, Salawu’s publicist, said the poetry book will be published in 2025.

Salako said Contraband Bodies explores migration and it is a personal documentation of exodus in Africa and outside the continent.

“Salawu’s debut full-length work, Contraband Bodies, has been acquired by NeWest Press Canada. The work is scheduled to be published in Fall 2025,” the statement reads.

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“Contraband Bodies is not Salawu’s first book of poetry. In 2019, his book, Preface for Leaving Homeland, was published by African Poetry Book Fund. His works have appeared in local and international journals and have been nominated for different awards.

“Jide Salawu wrote Contraband Bodies during his fellowship with Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, Vancouver Canada, and with the generous support of James Patrick Folinsbee Award, English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, Canada in 2022.

“In it, he moves from private disenchanting memories of migration to the public one. You can also describe it as an elegy of sorts to the postcolonial country, Nigeria. Its current description reads:

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“Contraband Bodies is a personal record of migratory travails and a country lost to precarious politics. It is a conscious elegy of displacement and home regained through the tribute of roads, evoking diasporic conditions in a new way by highlighting through pixelated imagery, syncopated language, and lapidary details the diverse circumstances of being a Black migrant in Africa, Europe, and America.”

Speaking with TheCable on Wednesday, Salawu, a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta, said Contraband Bodies is a turning point in his craft progress.

“I have been deeply interested in the issue of dispersal pressed by different factors since my publication of Preface for Leaving Homeland. But this current volume is an expected departure. It evokes how racial, social, economic struggles of migration are personally embodied,” the Kwara state-born author said.

“It is my own restless body flying across the sea. It is a versified code for grief. When I lost my grandmother in 2020, I couldn’t fathom how to process the trans-Atlantic elegy, so I returned to poetry while looking at her body image sent to me by my brother who was back home.

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“There is great joy in seeing poetry books by the new generation of African poetry. Poetry is well and alive, and right announcements by many of my friends are a testament that the future is not as bleak as assumed. I am excited that Contraband Bodies is joining the African poetry archive in Fall 2025.

“My hope is that through this work I can lead my readers to a marvelous place of language and advance conversation of migration for the common good.”

Salawu is a graduate of English literature from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state.

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