The 1949 feminist library was founded in 2020 by Edwige Dro, an award-winning writer, activist and literary translator from Côte d’Ivoire. Her innovative new literary space focuses on women’s literature from Africa and the Black world, as well as promoting literacy and language skills for all. Recently, I was fortunate enough to stay at the library, in the city of Abidjan, as part of a literary activism research project led by Professor Madhu Krishnan at the University of Bristol. My article in the ITI Bulletin, A library holding worlds explores Edwige’s work and my experience staying in the library, paving the way for her first resident writers.
I’ve been working with a team from Bristol University and Bakwa Books in Cameroon to produce a bilingual anthology of Cameroonian short stories by emerging creative writers and literary translators. The book, entitled Your Feet Will Lead You Where Your Heart Is / Le Crépuscule des âmes sœurs will be launched by Bakwa Books in May 2021 and is available now on the Bakwa website.
My involvement came about following a feasibility study on literary translation training that I produced in 2018-19. It highlighted the local need and desire for increased literary translation training in Cameroon for the many established and upcoming professional translators already working in related fields. In 2021, we ran creative writing and translation workshops in Yaounde, and the participants worked with award-winning writers and translators such as Ros Schwartz and Edwige Dro to develop their skills. I also ran some of the workshop sessions and the reading group, and we (along with Roland Glasser, Mona de Pracontal and Sika Fakambi) mentored the translators as they worked on their stories.
The result of these activities can be found in the fabulous collection of short stories published by Bakwa. I talk more about the project, along with co-editor (with Bakwa founder Dzekashu MacViban) and translator Nfor E. Njinyoh, and workshop participant, Felicite Ette Enow at a special online event for Dr Jennifer Arnold’s Reading across Cultures conversation series at Cork University. The talk can be viewed on the Reading Across Cultures facebook page.