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Against All Odds — Eritrean Millennium Poems by Reesom Haile


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With more than 1,000 African languages dating back over the course of millennia, the verbal traditions of the Mother Continent are the world’s richest, and a resource into human consciousness as yet untapped. In early 2000, Poetry Guide Bob Holman attended the Against All Odds Conference in Asmara, Eritrea, a polyglot gathering of poetry spoken, written, danced, on film, in theater, with music, whose subtitle was “African Languages and Literatures into the 21st Century.” The organizers of the festival believe “that the African verbal arts are a vital source of traditional and future social change...”—what you might call “Afro-Optimism.” One of the driving forces of Against All Odds was Charles Cantalupo, professor at Penn State, the US sponsor of the conference. Cantalupo, a fabulous poet and performer and theorist about the relationship of the two, has been visiting Eritrea for years. To give you a taste of the local poetry there, here follow some poems by Reesom Haile, in the original Tigrinya and as translated into English by Cantalupo.

More Reesom Haile Poems Translated by Charles Cantalupo
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  6. Introduction to Eritrean Poems - Introduction to Eritrean Poems by Reesom Haile Translated into English

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