Poetry from Baba Badji

Image via Pixabay


Imagine shutting myself in the American face,
where I face the low slung & pale sky
where Africanness send Negroness down
the elephant’s shadow of Négritude.

The will to smile that big Senegalese smile-
Un Homme blanc me dépose au regard de
L’Océan Atlantique, au regard des terres Africaines
Because I refuse to stop for prose.

Because the aches of Double Exile never froze.
We slowly become American in law of faith.
The setting of dreams gone dark on bamboo farms.

Looking back, insanity and nostalgia curve against
my people’s tongues (you think dangerous) in defense
of multinational self a penance I pay for Coffin Maker.


Born in Senegal, West Africa, Baba Badji is currently a Chancellor’s Fellow and a third year Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature, with the Track for International Writers & a combined Graduate Certificate in Translation Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. His research interests are situated on 20th C American, African, Caribbean, Francophone Studies, Poetry: fixed & free forms, experimentation, Poetics of Exile & Poetics of Blackness, Modernism, Postcolonial Studies. He holds a BA in English & French Francophone Studies from the College of Wooster, Ohio and received his MFA in poetry, and translation from Columbia University, New York City. He is fluent in French, Wolof, Mende and Diola. His first Chapbook, Owls of Senegal, was a finalist for the 2016 Seattle Review judged by Claudia Rankine. His translations have appeared on the 2014 Pen World Voice Festival.

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