Friday, April 18, 2008

Poem & RIP: Aimé Césaire

JPEG - 22.6 koIt's been a busier week than usual, so I haven't been able to complete the daily poetry posts I began, but I'll try to finish as many of them as I can so that I cover all 30 of April's slots. I also do want to post a squib on the Race Sex Power: New Directions in Black and Latino/a Sexualities conference at the University of Illinois-Chicago, which I attended and spoke at last weekend.

But today, let me note the passing of one of Martinique's greatest gifts to the world Aimé Césaire, one of the most important figures in 20th century Black Diasporic and francophone literature.

I wrote the following little blurb on the CC list:

Evie, many thanks to you and Reggie for posting on Césaire's passing, and on this excerpt from his masterpiece. He once said: «Je suis de la race de ceux qu'on opprime»--I am of the race of those who are oppressed--and he devoted his life and work to challenging that oppression through his art and civic activism, and to creating and celebrating black caribbean, translatlantic and diasporic culture.

Reggie H. sent the following obituary link, from the International Herald Tribune.

And Evie sent this snippet (originally from her partner Stéphane) from Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal:

and here at the end of this daybreak my virile prayer
that I hear neither the laughter nor the screams, my eyes
fixed on this town which I prophesy, beautiful,
grant me the savage faith of the sorcerer
grant my hands the power to mold
grant my soul the sword's temper
I won't flinch. Make my head into a figurehead
and as for me, my heart, do not make me into a father nor a brother
nor a son, but into the father, the brother, the son,
nor a husband, but the lover of this unique people.

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