Where the Baedeker Leads uncovers the many delicate layers that lie in the spaces between departures and arrivals, offering memories and stories. Whether it's about journeys, personal transition, or changes in the seasons, the aim in these poems is to draw attention to the personal experiences and social conditions that push people away from home to the new landscapes, sights, and encounters that remind them of the times and place they have so painfully left behind.
James Yeku is a Nigerian-Canadian writer who lived in Saskatoon for six years before moving to Lawrence, Kansas, where he is an Assistant Professor of African Digital Humanities at the University of Kansas. He teaches introductory courses in African studies, Black masculinities, and digital literary studies. Yeku?s poetry and fiction have been recognized with awards and nominations, including the University of Ibadan Okigbo Poetry Prize in 2008 (First runner-up).
"James Yeku writes with passionate observation of a world being made ever anew beneath his keen-eyed examination. Both beauties and sorrows, ugliness and attendant graces, are woven artfully into hymns of life writ large. " --Andréa Ledding
"James Yeku is a delight to read, a joy to follow as he peregrinates. His powerful intellect and eye for detail does not burden his audience with pedantry, rather, his works lift the imagination as thermals lift the falcon. " --Tade Ipadeola, author of The Sahara Testaments
"A thoughtful, fresh invocation of departures and arrivals, not only of places, but those moments and encounters from which life derives its meaning. This is a collection that casts a spell into those things, people and places, that even where familiar, are realized in the new form the poet reveals to us. . . This is an elegant collection that gives both pleasure and newness to the reader. " --Jumoke Verissimo, Author of I am memory and A birth of Illusion
"James Yeku's Where the Baedeker Leads is refreshing poetry. . . This collection is artfully Janus-faced, one eye fixed on new discoveries and encounters, the other gazes on the lived experiences of the poet's homeland where the influenza of politics and the horrors of bad governance threaten the human capacity for survival, for loving, belonging and memory. " --Remi Raji
"James Yeku's collection is an atlas that 'kisses the skin with fierceness. ' One can feel winter creeping, wings flapping, and cities as bodies withstanding the cold and the night. In Where the Baedeker Leads coexist the digital longing, the poignant prophecy, and the rising whir of unrest. " --Ignacio Carvajal, author of Plegarias
"Where the Baedeker Leads is a patchwork of beauty and pain; an exploratory window through which James Yeku sings of the beauty of the earth while at the same time lamenting the crass stupidity that humans repeatedly visit on themselves. It is a song of wander and of longing for home from a soul reeking of despair yet clinging to the frail flowers of hope. " --Servio Gbadamosi, author of A Tributary in Servitude (Winner, ANA Prize for Poetry 2015 and Runner-up, Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, 2018)
"Beyond the longing for a distant home and the cuddles of strangers in a foreign land, James Yeku's debut poetry book sucks the reader into the apparitions that every sensitive troubadour in exile confronts. Between these pages, 'poetry is born' as 'the union/ of strange tales and tongues,' to paraphrase the poet-persona. A commendable collection, especially for those at the crossroads of life. " --Nduka Otiono, Associate Professor of African Studies and English, Carleton University, Canada