Think of Lampedusa

Think of Lampedusa

Think of Lampedusa

Think of Lampedusa


A collection of serial poems, Think of Lampedusa addresses the 2013 shipwreck that killed 366 Africans attempting to migrate secretly to Lampedusa, an Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. The crossing from North Africa to this island and other Mediterranean way stations has become the most dangerous migrant route in the world. Interested in what is producing such epic displacement, Josué Guébo's poems combine elements of history and mythology.

Guébo considers the Mediterranean not only as a literal space but also as a space of expectation, anxiety, hope, and anguish for migrants. He meditates on the long history of narratives and bodies trafficked across the Mediterranean Sea. What did it--and what does it--connect and separate? Whose sea is it? Ultimately he is searching for what motivates a person to become part of what he calls a "seasonal suicide epidemic."

This translation of Guébo's Songe Lampedusa, winner of the Tchicaya U Tam'si Prize for African Poetry, is a searing work from a major African poet.


John Keene

Throughout the first fifteen years of the twenty-first century, the increasing waves of refugees, particularly from the global South to Europe and North America, have focused public attention in the West on the issues of global displacement, dispossession, and migration. in the wake of neoliberal capitalism’s global depredations, the United States-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and numerous metastasizing domestic and international conflicts furthered by Western powers throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, political, social, and economic refugees and migrants have headed for regions that they envision offer opportunities not only for survival but also which present the possibility of a livelihood and some measure of security. Europe, because of its comparative wealth, proximity to multiple regions in tumult, long colonial history, and—over the last half century—self-proclaimed adherence to liberal values and defense of human rights has been a primary destination for migrants, with the countries constituting its periphery, such as Italy, serving as the main and often deadly entry points.

It is this story writ large—and in particular one tragic, representative incident, the 2013 Lampedusa migrant shipwreck—that Ivorian academic, poet, short story writer, and intellectual Josué Guébo (born in 1972 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast) explores in his fifth book of poetry, Think of Lampedusa. Originally published in French in 2014, and translated . . .

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