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Gabriel Imomtimi Gbaingbain Okara, the son of an Ijọ chief, was born in Bomoundi in the Niger delta in 1921. He was educated at Government College, Umuahia, and later at Yaba Higher College. He studied journalism at Northwestern University in 1949, and before the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War worked as Information Officer for the Eastern Nigerian Government Service.
His most famous poem is "Piano and Drums." Another popular poem, "You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed," is a frequent feature of anthologies. Okara is very concerned with what happens when the ancient culture of Africa is faced with modern Western culture, as in his poem "Once Upon a Time." He pursues that theme in his novel The Voice (Africana Publishing: ISBN 0-8419-0015-9) Its protagonist Okolo, like countless post-colonial Africans, is hunted by society and haunted by his own ideals.
In addition to his poetry and fiction, Okara has also written plays and features for broadcasting.
Many of his manuscripts were destroyed during the Nigerian Civil War.
- 1970 The Voice - novel
- 1978 The Fisherman's Invocation
- Laurence, Margaret; Stovel, Nora Foster (2001). Long Drums & Cannons: Nigerian dramatists and novelists, 1952-1966. University of Alberta. pp. 171–. ISBN 978-0-88864-332-2. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- "Gabriel Okara," in Hans M. Zell, Carol Bundy, Virginia Coulon, A New Reader's Guide to African Literature, Heinemann Educational Books, 1983; pp. 445-447.
- Echeruo, Michael J.C. "Gabriel Okara: a Poet and His Seasons." World Literature Today, 1992: 454-456
- Mark Willhardt, Who's Who in 20th Century World Poetry, Routledge (2001), ISBN 0-415-16355-2 - p. 237.
- Eldred Ibibiem Green, Gabriel Okara: The Man and His Art. Port Harcourt, Nigeria: Onyoma Research Publications, 2007.
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