Two Poems by Marie-Léontine Tsibinda (tr. Nancy Naomi Carlson)

a nutshell: as a pair, these evocative poems juxtapose Tsibinda’s memories of village life in Congo-Brazzaville – both the beauty and the brutality

a line: “Do you feel how the daytime air vibrates | and feel the shudder of lush land | when the rushing train rattles the silence of mountains?” – ‘The Village’ (the first poem)

an image: in the second (darker) poem, ‘In My Village’, Tsibinda portrays the more sinister elements of village life, for instance how each brother becomes an enemy, each laugh an arrow, each word a shoal – these images are particularly powerful with the knowledge that Tsibinda fled her homeland in 1997 due to ongoing conflict and was ultimately resettled in Canada with her family

a thought: I enjoyed reading the translator’s note in which Carlson describes her process of first creating sound maps to highlight Tsibinda’s patterns of assonance, alliteration & rhythm to try to honour the music infused in these lyrical poems, e.g. imitating the pattern of repeated sibilants around snakes (“hirsutes où se tissent des serpents”) with “thickets where snakes intertwist”

a fact: until reading these poems I’d never heard of a ‘pirogue’ and had to look it up – Merriam-Webster records the same definition as for the word ‘dugout’, that is, a boat made by hollowing out a large log

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How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana with Abigail Pesta

a nutshell: this moving memoir follows Uwiringiyimana’s journey from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, through the Gatumba massacre, to the US where she resettled with her family and began to confront her trauma

a line: “We must not fall prey to the kind of thinking that separates us”

an image: Uwiringiyimana vividly recalls the sense of displacement in the family’s arrival in the US, for instance how her father says he feels like the cold wind is electrocuting him

a thought: I was astonished to learn the family did not receive any counselling during their resettlement, which seems like an extreme oversight in the program – I was very moved by Uwiringiyimana’s frank account of her mental health in the years following the massacre

a fact: Uwiringiyimana’s activism grew out of a photo exhibition she created with her brother, Alex, which led to an invitation to speak at Women in the World – here‘s part of that interview she did with Charlie Rose

want to read How Dare the Sun Rise? visit here