Professor of English Christopher Wise's translation of Hawad’s book-length poem In the Net was recently published with the African Poetry Series, edited by Kwame Dawes, at the University of Nebraska Press. Hawad is a Tuareg poet and painter of the Sahara, who writes in Tamajaght, which he transcribes with tifinagh, the Tuareg alphabet. The Tuareg are semi-nomadic Berber people (also called “Amazigh”), non-black "blue men," who have lived from prehistoric times in the Sahara Desert in lands that were later divided by French colonizers into five post-colonial states: Mauritania, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Hawad’s epic poem In the Net recounts the fall of the newly independent Tuareg state Azawad in Northern Mali in 2012 and the agonizing death march of the Tuareg people as they fled into exile.
Excerpts from Wise’s translation were originally published in a special issue of The Bellingham Review, “Scribes, Griots, Poets: New Writing From West Africa,” edited by Suzanne Paola, Kristiana Kahakauwila, and Wise. Wise’s book is accompanied by a brief film made by his daughter, Ayesha Wise, which can be viewed on Wise’s YouTube channel: “Hawad’s Atelier in Provence.”
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