The Neverending Quest for the Other Shore: An Epic in Three Cantos
Poetry by Sylvie Kandé
Translation by Alexander Dickow
Wesleyan University Press, February 2022
Hardcover, 176pp; $35
Sylvie Kandé’s neo-epic in three cantos is a double narrative combining today’s tales of African migration to Europe on the one hand, with the legend of Abubakar II on the other: Abubakar, emperor of 14th-Century Mali, sailed West toward the new world, never to return. Kandé’s language deftly weaves a dialogue between these two narratives and between the epic traditions of the globe. Dazzling in its scope, the poem swings between epic stylization, griot storytelling, and colloquial banter, capturing an astonishing range of human experience. Kandé makes of the migrant a new hero, a future hero whose destiny has not yet taken shape, whose stories are still waiting to be told in their fullness and grandeur: the neverending quest has only just begun. Presented in side by side translation into English from French.