please note I read Keïta’s poetry in her original French, so anything ‘lost in translation’ is down to my slightly rusty French!
a nutshell: excerpted from A Toutes les Muses (Mandé Editions), these poems by Malian writer Fatoumata Keïta evoke a lyrical, intimate sense of the hopes, illusions and emotions coursing through the poet
a line: “I invite you into my temple, friend | into the rooms of my firm pen” (“Je t’invite dans mon temple, ami | Dans les pièces de ma plume affermie”) – ‘These Blows’
an image: shaped with exquisite precision as a diamond, Keïta’s poem ‘Rebel Sword’ conjures visceral scenes of earthworms and dust to bring us up close with the mortality we all have in common – I (whether wrongly or rightly) interpreted this poem as an allusion to the Tuareg Rebellion
a thought: I was moved by the poem ‘Tears’, particularly the contrast drawn between the flood of tears and the aridity of harsh times, which prompted me to learn more about the geography of Mali – I learned it’s among the world’s hottest countries with frequent droughts, and the climate crisis has exacerbated conflict over access to water & land
a fact: born in 1977 in Baguinéda, near Mali’s capital Bamako, Keïta’s first job after graduating was editing radio scripts – which perhaps contributed to the amazing musicality of her poetry
want to read Poèmusiques? visit here – collection To all the Muses’ edited by Mandé Editions