Smiles in Pathos and Other Poems is a collection of selected poems by Khainga O’Okwemba. The poet stands on the opposite ends of his contemporaries because of his faith and reverence in the traditional forms of poetry. He is intimately Augustan in craft and romantic in idealizing the poetic forms. The poems are written in three models divided into separate books, with each book sub-themed.
In Book One we have the celebratory short poems called Poems of Homage which are inspired by the poet’s admiration of canonical African writers: Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Chris Wanjala, Peter Abrahams, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Ayi Kwei Amah, Denis Brutus, Christopher Okigbo, among others.
The Incidental poems in Book Two called Poems of Known Tradition , adopt identifiable forms; rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, repetition, stanza, terza rima, sonnet, and which take on socio-political themes.
In Book Three we find the mock epic narrative poetry with the title Pearls of Laughter. The narrative poem needs first to be enjoyed as a love story, and as a satire. Every piece has a life of its own. However, the work is well appreciated when the fragmented pieces are united into one, a feat generally admired by the poet.
What others say
“Here on our road a great mind sings freedom to open wings in clouds of cyanide over horizons; mists at crusted duties serving deities of latest power of invaders come to drink our Nile. Khainga is our new Moran!” – Prof Okello Oculi, Ugandan Poet and Distinguished Professor of Political Science
“Khainga has shown his unwavering fidelity to traditional forms of poetry.” – Lennox Odiemo-Munara, Literature Lecturer, Egerton University
“By returning to traditional forms, rhymes and language of poetry, the contemporary Khainga breaks convention in the most simple, profound and elegant way – this is what makes his work distinctive.”
– Kadija Sesay, Sable LitMag Publisher/Chair African Writers Abroad/ – Chair International PEN Women Writers Committee
“Khainga O’Okwemba’s narrative songs do not come to us in a condemnatory voice. They are rendered in quiet satire, most of the time pleasing to the ear. He constantly redefines his role as a poet, recording as he does the slices of life and expressing life’s message in the ever-renewing medium. Khainga O’Okwemba is the embodiment of the new subtle optimism which the African requires to face the new forces in his own ironical words.”
– Chris Wanjala, Distinguished Professor of Literature, University of Nairobi