– Nikky Finney. Instruction, Final: To Brown Poets from Black Girl with Silver Leica




  • Cave Canem Reading and Conversation with Nikki Finney⇨



None of us has one definite home place.

We haunt the shadowy woods, bed down on riverbanks,

On meadowland in earshot of running streams.

– Virgil. excerpt from Aeneid VI

translated by Seamus Heaney


There was the sea, yes; blue held
between the island and its hem of coral.
I liked diving best, the warm, lemony
taste of seawater, the fizz of sand
like leaning my ear to the rim of a glass of Fanta.
Afterwards, salt crusted my eyelashes, cracked
my lips; I sat in the sun with my arms wrapped round
my legs, licked the fine, bitter dust on the insides
of wrists, elbows, the tops of knees.

Here it was sweet water, sweet stones;
the pebble-click language of lakes.

Always stepping in to be carried: to be
lifted, tilted and tear-dropped, set down
by swells on toe-tips. To be swayed. Whole afternoons
spent like this; at the end of the day I would lie in bed,
        feeling water,
turbulent ghost moving through me, my body
not yet accustomed to the bed’s smooth,
rippled beach.

– Soraya Peerbaye. Lagoons and lakes


  • Tell: poems for a girlhood

Have you heard, stone wall?
Iron door, blind window,
My pillow, my bunk, my chain,
My hidden sad picture for which
I risk death again and again,
Have you heard?
My visitor brought green onions,
My cigarettes smell of cloves.
Spring has come to the mountains of my land.

– Ahmed Arif. Inside

translated by Murat-Nemet Nejat



If the night deposits you at the sea’s high line
Do not offend the sea in you by running ancient gods aground
Only flowers know how to climb eternity
We call you wounded earth O how brief our time
Will be, like the water whose bed cannot be seen
Song of water piled on the water of that sorrowful evening
You are sweet to the one you distance from your night
Like a too-heavy pebble buried on the shores of midnight
I aimed my oars between the islands I named you
Long before you assigned me sanctuary and breath
I named you Ungraspable and All-Fled-Away
Your laughter separated the blue waters from the unknown waters

                                                                       * * *

      I named you wounded Earth, whose rift is ungovernable, and I clothed you in
threnodies uprooted from the recesses of yesterday
      Crushing dust and hurtling down my words to the pens and pushing the mute
gray bulls to the edges
      I dedicated to you a people of the wind where, in your silence you capsize so
that earth, you create me
      When you rise in your color, where there is a crater ever in leaf, visible in the

– Edouard Glissant. excerpt from For Mycea

translated by Brent Hayes Edwards


The gaping mouths of a hundred crocodiles form netted traps in each wave
Consider the labour within the sea-change of a raindrop to a pearl

– Mirza Ghalib. dām-e har mauj meñ hai halqah-e sad kām-e nihang *

translated by Azra Raza and Sara Suleri Goodyear



In the net of every wave is a circle of a hundred crocodile mouths,
Let’s see what happens to the drop on the way to becoming a pearl.

translated by Frances W. Pritchett and Owen T.A. Cornwall




During the day I play at drowning
looking for the smoke
of eyelashes and faded hair
the lilac shadows of blood
and the ruins of coffee
but at night
I dream of the last syllable
in my mother’s heart
the last red word in her lungs.

– Frank Lima. Plena