An Activist Library

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.

Shaping Words

I like to combine my two passions of literary translation and pottery, and recently wrote an article on the subject for the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) Bulletin.  I started potting while I was working as an academic at the University of Glasgow in 2014. It was a real stress relief going to Glasgow Ceramics Studio after work, and I felt it turned a buzzing mind into a calm one – rather like working on poetry translation, which is also very slow-paced and considered. My article describes the way in which I have managed to combine the two by inscribing my pottery with quotes from my Francophone and French poetry translations from the last 15 years. Download and read the full article below.

Street Smart Stories

An innovative new company called Grapevine is publishing exciting new literature from across the world on WhatsApp and Telegram, making it accessible to all. The organisation was founded by creative technologist Tim Kindberg and artist Lily Green. Simply take a photo of some Grapevine artwork (found on postcards, book covers, stickers etc), send it to Grapevine via WhatsApp, and you’ll be sent the related literary content: extracts of a short story, poetry and more.

I worked with Grapevine on one of their pilot projects, running an online workshop with Cameroonian writers and artists as they developed their ideas for Grapevine. The two winning ideas were produced by the groups and the Grapevine team. The images can be seen around Cameroon on posters and stickers on taxi windows.

Take a photo of one of the winning images below, send it to Grapevine on +44 (0)7380 333721, and hear the audio for yourself!

Art: Dante Besong; Audio: Anjie C Nkweti (“The Shoe Mender”), Sidney Bendie (“Frank”), Tita Hans (“Moussa”); Text: Anjie C Nkweti (“Moussa”), Sidney Bendie (“Frank”), Tita Hans (“The Shoe Mender”); Intro text: Edmund Nnane; Proof: Nnane Ntube

Cedric Chopbukuned (Graphiste), Annie Claire Ngomo, Edouard Bengono Essola, Géraldin Mpesse, Gils da Douanla, Raoul Djimeli, Davy Djomeni

Your Feet Will Lead You Where Your Heart Is

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.