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Dr Kemi Atanda Ilori studied at the University of Ife in Nigeria (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) and then in the United Kingdom at Leeds, Sheffield and Bradford, gaining degrees in Drama, Literature and Housing.
He lectured from 1983 to 1990 at the University of Ife, where most of his early poems were published in Sokoti, Ijala and ISALA. The University published his Voices of The Hurricane in its monograph series in 1983. The Association of Nigerian Authors published his Amnesty in 1988. Ilori's poetry combines the lyricism of oral performance with the elegance of postmodern diction. He focuses relentlessly on the postcolonial challenges facing Nigeria - the raw politics, the rough justice and the rueful military and civilian administrations. In-between the harsh imagery of corruption and injustice, Ilori finds quality space for hope and redemption, love and laughter, often in a tender self-critical manner. This collection shows Ilori as an adept craftsman whose words sculpt Nigeria's postcolonial humdrum blues into something both vivid and engrossing. Several of the poems are either tributes to Wole Soyinka for his fearless activism, or intuitive commentaries on Soyinka's themes.
Ilori moved to the United Kingdom in 1990 and found a new career in Housing in 1993. He rose through the ranks and became the Director of Housing Services with Manningham Housing Association in Bradford in 2002, a post he held until 2011. He has been the Pastor of Living Hope Church since its inception, first in Nigeria and, latterly, in the UK.
In addition to poetry, Ilori has published essays on Nigerian drama and theatre. He is currently developing research towards a book on the theatre of Wole Soyinka.