My country, tonight
Translated by Todd Fredson
Release Date September, 2016
Ivorian poet Josué Guébo’s My country, tonight, engages with the turbulence surrounding the 2011 ousting of president Laurent Gbagbo by French and UN forces and its subsequent civil war. My country, tonight posits the body of the state alongside the bodies left behind by globalist, capitalist violence, spurting the occult fluids of blood, oil, and “l’eau nue.”
“Josué Guébo’s My country, tonight offers English-language readers their first sustained encounter with one of the important contemporary poets of the Ivory Coast and Francophone Africa. Translated with superb nuance and verve by Todd Fredson, who also provides an insightful introduction to the collection, Guébo’s poems present a stirring, condensed and often ironic vision of his country’s long colonial and post-independence struggle for cultural, political and economic sovereignty, against the power-plays of the neoliberal West and global capitalism. Both lyric and polemic, My country, tonight, by ‘tear[ing] the names open for us,’ adds new depth to our post-colonial understanding of recent Ivorian history and enriches our appreciation of African poetry today.”
— John Keene
“An utterly moving poetry collection…. Embarks on erudite and crushing utterances — lyrics that are severed, that perplexingly and astoundingly grab sense with brevity. What I mean to say: these poems rest wholly on a gentle lyric gesture as well as its opposite, a single word tempo. They resist what is too sincere, and they puncture emotions’ lament with powerful lucidity — they pierce a colonial history that is ‘wearing its boreal red.’ This poetry collection draws poignant conclusions about what atrocity looks like to its poets and writers. Fredson delves deeply into preserving and honoring the historical sites and sights and the intensity of an anti-colonial speech through his contemplative translation.”
— Prageeta Sharma
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josué Guébo is the author of five collections of poetry, the most recent of which, Songe à Lampedusa, won the 2014 Tchicaya U Tam’si Prize for African Poetry. He is a professor at the University of Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Cocody in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR
Todd Fredson is the author of the poetry collection, The Crucifix-Blocks (Tebot Bach) and a translator of Francophone West African literature. Think of Lampedusa, his translation of Josué Guébo’s collection Songe à Lampedusa, is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press in 2017.