Saturday, April 11, 2009

Senegalese Poet Amadou Lamine Sall

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, Paris

Amadou Lamine Sall

A recent Newsweek article asks, "Is poetry dying?" Perhaps not in Paris. Our final night in Paris, March 20, while four members of our travel group took a boat trip on the Seine, five of us attended a reading at Shakespeare and Company Bookstore by Senegalese poet Amadou Lamine Sall. His English translator Jim Haenlin was there to read the translation first, followed by Sall's subsequent reading in the original French. Given that this historic bookstore sells books only in English, the audience consisted largely of English speakers. The reading was held in a small, crowded upstairs room. I was seated next to a window which offered me a gorgeous view across the Seine of the illuminated Notre Dame Cathedral. After the reading there was a Q and A session, followed by wine, cheese, and crackers. I spoke to the writer briefly, telling him that his mentor, the Leopold Sedar Senghor (a former president of Senegal and its most famous poet, who died in 2001) was a great favorite of mine when I discovered West African poetry in the sixties. From the reading, we proceeded to our final French dinner together as a group. It was a fine way to conclude our nine days in France.

"Wild Veins," a sample of the poet's work, translated by Jim Haenlin
My colleague and fellow traveler Pamela showed me a recent article on the bookstore and its distinguished history.

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