Monday May 27

WaberiAbdourahman Abdourahman Waberi is a prize-winning writer from Djibouti whose work has been translated into a multitude of languages. These poems come from his collection of poetry entitled The Nomads, My Brothers, Go Out to Drink from the Big Dipper, translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson, forthcoming from Seagull Books (distributed by the U of Chicago P) in 2005. He is an Assistant Professor of Francophone Literature at the George Washington University. His website can be found here.

CarlsonNancyNaomi Nancy Naomi Carlson received a literature translation fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts to translate Abdourahman Waberi’s collection of poetry, forthcoming from Seagull Books. She is the author of three prize-winning, non-translated poetry titles, as well as the critically acclaimed Stone Lyre: Poems of René Char. Calazaza’s Delicious Dereliction, translations of Suzanne Dracius, from Martinique, is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2005.

         Cerisier du Japon

il pleut des fleurs
des pétales de sang coupé de lait
l’arbre à pain dans le jardin
se rappelle à notre bon souvenir
et paisiblement
file sa laine de tous les jours

Japanese Cherry Tree

flowers are showering down
petals of blood blended with milk
the breadfruit tree in the garden bed
reawakens our fondest memories
and in peace
spins its everyday wool

Le vent calligraphe

pinceau en main le vent dessine des paysages de mots
des montagnes sculptées
des plaines d’ombre
des enclaves d’horizons
le calligraphe chatouille
les sillons enflammés du desert
avec un bâtonnet d’encre bien délicat

Wind Is a Calligrapher

brush in hand the wind sketches landscapes of words
sculpted mountain slopes
shadow plains
horizon enclaves
the calligrapher tickles
desert furrows of fire
with a quite delicate stroke of ink



la demi-certitude de l’aube insulaire
cet étranger instant qui s’égrène avant toute heure
en attendant la consolidation du matin

avant cette genèse
les garçons grelottent dans leurs qamis de laine
un bébé longe le cou de sa mère
comme une araignée qui a entamé
sans le vouloir
la course vers la mort


half-certainty of island dawn
that strange moment which falls in the earliest hours
while waiting for morning to gather strength

before this genesis
boys shiver in qamis of wool
a baby nuzzles her mother’s neck
like a spider who starts
the race toward death

Translator’s note: Qamis is an Arabic word referring to a long shirt or tunic worn in traditional dress.