portrait of Gabriel Okoundji

Gabriel Okoundji

Gabriel Mwènè Okoundji was born in Okondo-Ewo, Republic of Congo, in 1962. He has lived in Bordeaux practising as a clinical psychologist since receiving a Congolese government grant to carry out his higher education there. His mixing with Occitan writers was a determining factor for the development of his poetry, and Occitan was the first language in which he was published. Often incorporating untranslated words and phrases of his mother tongue, Tegué, into his work, Gabriel Okoundji prefers to describe himself as a passeur (intermediary or ferryman) than as a poet, with the task of transporting the words, stories, and voices of his birthplace elsewhere. His writing has been the object of commentary and studies, and his works translated into English, Italian, Spanish, Occitan, Romanian, and Finnish, and adapted for the stage.