Coronet Inside Out: Ben Okri
CLOSED, STILL OPEN
For the first week of Coronet Inside Out, Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri wrote a new poem: Closed, Still Open.
The poem was written from inside the experience of the pandemic. Its mode is reflective, its tone intimate, its method symbolic.
How do we improvise in these difficult times?
How to keep our art and spirit alive?
We have to find a new way into the future
That is better than the way of the past.
Perhaps now like children who have
Woken the kraken from the deep
We’ll learn what laws
Of life to keep.
No more can we blame God
Or the gods. We are the evil
That keeps on coming back to us.
It’s time to re-examine our histories.
Find a new way to the future.
Get back to the balance we’ve lost.
Or we are on the path to dust.
Our past has led us here.
But to have a radiant future
A new consciousness is needed.
Something brave, beyond fear.
This must be the time of awakening.
The kraken’s here.
Can we in these times improvise?
Upwards our dreams must we revise.
Ben Okri is one of contemporary literature’s most important writers. Growing up in Nigeria and England, his poetry, novels, short fictions and essays reveal a unique sensibility. Part of a trilogy, his novel The Famished Road won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1991. In 2018 he adapted Albert Camus’ existentialist masterpiece The Outsider for The Coronet Theatre. Recent works include The Freedom Artist (which some are now calling prescient) and Prayer for the Living, a volume of stories.