There are certain things about home, about the roots, that are so important to an artist, particularly a poet.1 The smell of the earth, the kind of green, the shine on the leaves when the first rains have just fallen, the smell of the dust that is going to become mud as the rain falls on it, the melody of the rain on the thatched roof or the corrugated iron sheet roof. The road, even its potholes, the kind of cornucopia you find when you get to the typical African open market. You must be wondering, yes, there is cornucopia in America too, go to Wal-Mart, go to Rouses and so on, you see that oh, this is — but there is a difference.2


The open market in Africa, I mean the way you haggle, the way walk around, the mud that sticks to your foot as you go, the friends you make, the customer — the seller-customer kind of relationship, all these things are there. The kind of music you hear, the kind of abuses you hear people hurl, or abusive phrases, you hear people hurl at each other and how poetic they really are. Some of my poems are called Songs of Abuse, the use of exaggeration when, for example, “Look at you, are you talking to me like that? Your head is as big as the mountain of so and so, with your lips as thick as the behind of the hippopotamus.” Of course those are very rough translations. There are things that are there, they are telluric, they are so rooted that you cannot take them with you on exile.3

  1. Part Of Things, What Is Music []
  2. Railroad Tracks []
  3. Language In Which You Dream []
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