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When poet Ben Okri was just seven years old, he and his family moved back to Nigeria on the eve of civil war. Ever since, he has been fascinated by what he calls “cusp moments,” the periods just before catastrophe strikes. His new novel, The Last Gift of the Master Artists, takes place in an African society just before the Atlantic slave trade. In the book, he sets out to examine the spirit of a culture on the eve of its destruction.

In today’s episode of Tricycle Talks, Tricycle’s editor in chief, James Shaheen, sits down with Okri to discuss how writing can help us face what we refuse to see, how Buddhist teachings have influenced his work, and why he believes that art is most powerful when it brings us to a point of crisis.

Tricycle Talks is a podcast series featuring leading voices in the contemporary Buddhist world. You can listen to more Tricycle Talks on Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio.

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