Poet Naomi Fast
Saturday, May 28
Niche Wine and Art Bar
1013 Main Street, Vancouver
Niche poet laureate Christopher Luna invites you to join us for an evening of poetry by Congolese poet Olivier Sangi Lutondo, as translated (from French into English) by Naomi Fast.Naomi Fast holds Master of Arts degrees in Creative Writing (2005) & Theater Arts (2006) from Portland State University. She has won several awards for her writing, including The Academy of American Poets Prize and The Shelley Reece Award. Her poem "Kajiji Fires" was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize. Naomi works as an adjunct professor at Portland State University and is on the editorial collective for VoiceCatcher, a Portland literary anthology. Most recently, she has published poetry in Ghost Town Poetry, edited by Christopher Luna and Toni Partington. Her website is http://www.wordstothewind.com.
One of Naomi's longer term projects is the translation of a book of poems and prose by Congolese poet, Olivier Sangi Lutondo. Naomi lived in Kajiji, Zaire in the 1980's, and her Congolese tata (aka dad), Pakisa Tshimika, founder of Mama Makeka House of Hope (http://www.mmhhope.org) and Lutondo's cousin, gave her a book of Lutondo's poems to translate from French to English. The poems you'll be hearing are from this book, La Deliverance Au Paradis-Bar.
Lutondo, "poète cokwe," (or Tshokwe, an ethnicity inhabiting parts of Angola, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia) is the "poet of peace" in the land of his birth, where peace is an ever elusive presence. This book introduces us to a truly special and unique people through the voice of their honored poet; we learn of some of their circumstances, hopes and fears, but most of all, we discover the music, poetry and beauty of their spirit.In the preface of La Deliverance Au Paradis-Bar (New Legend press, 2002), Metena M.Simon-Pierre writes, "It’s this concern for the human condition and the unfulfilled desire for humanity to return to its beauty and original integrity that convinced me to preface this book. Indeed, this desire and quest to be a "better-humanity" come through, like a watermark, the poems and other essays collected in this volume. They echo - at times in rebellion, other times imploringly - the cries of distress, uncertainty, and stubborn hope that constantly disappoints his people... but also of the nobility of a people who know they are called to testify of their courage in this world of infernal machines."
In a letter to Fast, Olivier wrote that what made him a poet is the way poetry allows him to to eternally document, through art, the lives of his people. Her hope, as a poet and a child of Olivier's country, is to help his words be heard by many more people, in another land not really so far away.