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[I write on the planks]

[J'écris sur les planches]
by Khal Torabully
Translated from French by
Nancy Naomi Carlson
Issue 28 Online Exclusive

I write on the planks
of the ship
I hear water
racking its brains
as it slices through spume.
And first I gave away
my flask,
and then I placed my head
in the sky
to forget my empty hands.




Original text: Torabully, Khal. “[J’écris sur les planches]” 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.