I Crossed


This was the first of three poems by Alamin Mazrui that we translated in our workshop and it was by far the most difficult and time-consuming - no doubt because it concerns the poet's troubling and painful relationship with Africa.

The poem is written in that very familiar tradition of addressing a country as though it were the beloved. And so Africa becomes personified as 'a distant star' walled up behind impenetrable darkness.

One of the most complicated lines to translate was 'as if I embraced my blood in a stone/rock', in Katriina's literal - simply because it's such a strange image. But once we came up with 'veined' as a way of desribing the blood in the stone, the line fell into place.