by Abdilatif Abdalla
edited by Annmarie Drury
University of Michigan Press, 2024
Cloth: 978-0-472-07661-1 | Paper: 978-0-472-05661-3 | eISBN: 978-0-472-22146-2
Library of Congress Classification PL8704.A32I43 2024
Dewey Decimal Classification 896.39212

The extraordinary Swahili poetry collection Sauti ya Dhiki (Voice of Agony), is a collection of prison poems composed by Abdilatif Abdalla between 1969 and 1972. He originally wrote the poems while incarcerated by the government of Jomo Kenyatta for sedition as a result of his political activism and smuggled them out of prison on scraps of paper. Imaginative Vision is the first complete literary translation into English—translated by the late Kenyan novelist and scholar Ken Walibora Waliaula and edited by Annmarie Drury—of one of the most esteemed and influential collections of Swahili poetry of the twentieth century. 

Yet, Imaginative Vision is also something more. Even as it centers on a literary translation of a singularly beautiful and influential book of poetry, it tells English-language readers the story of that book. Supporting materials illuminate the circumstances of its inception when Abdilatif, aged 22, was arrested and tried. They explore what the volume meant to its first readers and its affiliations with subsequent extraordinary works of prison literature by Alamin Mazrui and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. They trace its links to literary art of the past, including the nineteenth-century poet Muyaka bin Haji, and to writing that followed. And they explain social and historical aspects of the Swahili coastal world that nurtured Abdilatif’s political engagement and stunning verbal art. Under the editorship of scholar, translator, and poet Annmarie Drury, contributors bring insights from their diverse backgrounds to present contextualizing material that illuminates the poems at the heart of this book.

See other books on: 1946- | African | Drury, Annmarie | East | Political and social views
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