FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Poet of the Week from the Congo: Jean-Baptiste Tati Loutard

Poet of the Week from the Congo: Jean-Baptiste Tati Loutard

This week's poet of the week: Jean-Baptiste Tati Loutard, hails from the DRC where he was born in 1938. Educated at the University of Bordeaux, he returned to his native country becoming a leader within the Congolese cultural movement.  He died in 2009.

Following is one selection from his Poems of the Sea or Les Poemes de la Mer.  I think his impuissance is powerful and I look forward to reading it in full:


Si j'etais faiseur de pluies comme feu mon grand-père
Je pousserais dans l'ombre ce scarabée de jour
Qui roule déjà sa grosse boule de soleil
Par tous monts et vaux de mon ame

And now my very loose and quick translation for my non-francophone readers:

Impotence (or powerlessness)
If I was a rainmaker like my late grandfather
I would push in the shadow of this sad day
that already rolls the sunshine
past all the valleys and mountains of my soul

"Tati-Loutard made his mark on Francophone poetry as a leader of the generation that followed Leopold Senghor and David Diop. Where Senghor and Diop sought to use their voice to break away from the confining rhyming verse of the earlier works of Birago Diop and Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo in favor of a free rhetorical verse, Tati-Loutard has worked to develop the stature of Francophone African poetry through a return to more classical styles of un-rhyming meter. As a student of Aimé César's "Negritude," Tati-Loutard seeks a black voice to answer the challenges of the human condition.
           He won the Prix des Lettres African Alioune Diop in 1982 for "New Congolese Chronicles" and the All Africa Okigbo Prize for Poetry in 1987 for "The Tradition of Dream" and in 1987 he also won the Black Africa Literary Grand Prix for "The Story of Death"."


FUUO Past Poets of the Week:
Some of my favorite poetry books:

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