in this ancestral land
there’s an embryonic plant to be hoed
songs of September birds
rivers diverted from beds
deserted plantations
barbed wire circling raised voices

remain human to the end
as long as trees take root
in the earth

Alain Mabanckou

Alain Mabanckou is considered one of Francophone Africa’s most prolific contemporary writers. Born in what is now called Congo-Brazzaville, Mabanckou’s work has garnered a multitude of awards, including the Prix de la Société des Poètes Français and the prestigious Grand Prix de la Littérature from the Académie Française. Twice a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, his themes include his love for mother and motherland, exile, civil war and political corruption, nostalgia for childhood, and hope for a better Africa-to-come. When Mabanckou is not teaching at UCLA, he spends the rest of his time in France or traveling the globe.

Nancy Naomi Carlson

Nancy Naomi Carlson, translator, poet, and essayist, has authored ten titles (six translated). An Infusion of Violets (Seagull, 2019), her second full-length poetry collection, was named “New & Noteworthy” by the New York Times. A two-time recipient of literature translation fellowships from the NEA, her translations have been finalists for the Best Translated Book Award and the CLMP Firecracker Poetry awards. Decorated by the French government with the French Academic Palms, her work has appeared in such journals as APR, The Georgia Review, The Paris Review, and Poetry. She is a senior translation editor for Tupelo Press.