Sunday, April 21, 2019

Modern Sudanese Poetry

Modern Sudanese Poetry is an anthology of post-independence (1964-present) poetry from Sudanese poets. This book is in the African Poetry Book Series. Anticipated release date is 1st Sept 2019 from the University of Nebraska press. It's 186 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats.

This volume is impressive in several ways. This is obviously poetry in translation, the translation work by editor Adil Babikir seemed seamless and quite a number of the poems moved me despite being translated to English (and despite being read through the lens of my experiences as a western white woman). The included poetry is appealingly wide ranging. There are both male and female poets represented here. The poetry encompasses both the Arab and African experiences (sometimes both at once). There is a lot of poignant counterpoint in the culture of the region and it is reflected in the poetry.

I also really liked the supporting materials. There is a very well written, accessible, scholarly forward by  Matthew Shinoda which provides background information, some concise history and some interesting observations on the language and culture of the region. There is also an introduction, presumably by the editor, which gives a broad background with poetic and literary influences. The intro is accessible and also well documented, with a wealth of possibilities for further reading beyond the scope of the book.

The introductory materials represent roughly 20% of the page content.  There are poems from (by my count) 31 poets, many of them have more than one poem included.  I felt glimpses, reading them, of the common bonds which everyone shares across cultures and throughout time. We all experience love and loss and regret and confusion and anger.

There's an included notes section with some footnote info, a bibliography and reference section after the poetry, along with short contributor biographies.

I have done quick searches online and through the interlibrary catalogue at my university library. There is very little Sudanese poetry in translation available. None of these poets were familiar to me, and I found a number to follow up. This anthology was needed. Very well done (academic, true, but accessible and appealing to the layperson).

Five stars

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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