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[Ahoy, I will be a referent of men]

[Ohé, je serai référent d'hommes]
by Khal Torabully
Translated from French by
Nancy Naomi Carlson
Issue 28 Online Exclusive

Ahoy, I will be a referent of men,
I will stand with the lot of them.
Ahoy, I will tend to the tingling of being
by tapping on my soul.
I’ll take on all feelings of pogroms,
avatar of all chromosomes,
my light my burning tawa.

The moon sows white corals,
emptied masts relieved of shadows.
involuntary waves
are in my eyes.
My only homeland will be a human cry!
In each human wound, I will hear my race!
Ahoy, ahoy, ahoy!




Original text: Torabully, Khal. “[Ohé, je serai référent d’hommes]” from Cale d’étoiles (Cargo Hold of Stars). Saint Denis, Reunion: Azalées Editions, 1992.


Khal Torabully, from Mauritius, writing in French and Mauritian Creole, is a prize-winning poet, essayist, film director, and semiologist who has authored some 25 books, and coined the term “coolitude,” much in the same way that Aimé Césaire developed the concept of negritude.
Nancy Naomi Carlson has received grants from the NEA and the Maryland State Arts Council, and has authored 3 books of poetry and 5 books of translations, including Hammer With No Master, translations of René Char, which was a finalist for the 2017 CLMP Firecracker Poetry Award. Her translation of Abdourahman Waberi’s poems was a finalist for the BTBA. Carlson’s work has appeared in such journals as APR, The Georgia Review, and Poetry.