Black you say
That skin you don’t name
Because there’s no name
That you could ever theorize
Because it’s not a concept
That you can expose
Because it’s not an object

Anonymous it’s yours
This is the house you live in
Named it stands apart from you
Barely recognizable
It doesn’t look like you
It doesn’t tell your stories

But those of troubles elsewhere
Those of a world shared
In desperately uneven allotments










But your skin is the safe
Where you keep the keys that sort
The signs written along the ground
By your steps as you travel

Here no grotto no cave
The old growth forest has disappeared
Where to shelter yourself with a fire
That will warm your wings

Now you’ll grant yourself the right
To build your new home
There where your grounds are preserved
Inside the breath and your heart
Which continues to beat
And to love at every stop along the way







Tanella Boni is one of the most prominent figures in modern African literature. Born in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, she completed her advanced studies in France, returning to Côte d’Ivoire as a professor of philosophy. She served as president of the Writers’ Association of Côte d’Ivoire from 1991 to 1997. Boni’s 2004 novel, Matins de couvre-feu (Mornings after curfew) received the Ahmadou Kourouma Prize. In 2009 she won the Antonio Viccaro International Poetry Prize. Her poetry collection Là où il fait si clair en moi won the 2018 Prix Théophile Gautier from the French Academy. The English translation, There where it’s so bright in me, will be out in Fall 2022 from the University of Nebraska Press.


Todd Fredson is the author of several books of poetry and poetry in translation as well as of literary criticism and scholarship on West African poetics. His translation of Ivorian poet Tanella Boni’s collection The Future Has an Appointment with the Dawn (University of Nebraska Press, 2018) was a finalist for the 2019 Best Translated Book Award in poetry and the 2019 National Translation Award. His translation of Boni’s collection Là où il fait si clair en moi There where it’s so bright in me will be out in Fall 2022 (University of Nebraska Press). His translations of Bété poet Azo Vauguy’s book-length poems, Zakwato and Loglêdou’s Peril are forthcoming as a double-translation in Spring 2023 (Action Books).