Ribka Sibhatu and André Naffis-Sahely in conversation

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Poet and translator Andre Naffis-Sahely.

23 July 2020 Entrance is free — Visit now

Manchester Poetry Library might not have actually thrown open its physical doors yet, but that’s no problem as the brand-new establishment teams up with the Poetry Translation Centre to invite you to the virtual celebration of the publication, in English, of poet Ribka Sibhatu’s collection Aulò! Aulò! Aulò!

Sibhatu will read from the book, a volume of “confessional” and “taboo-busting” lyric poems and longer politically tinged narrative poems, originally written in Tigrinya (the language most widely spoken in Eritrea and the Tigray region in the northern part of Ethiopia), Amharic and Italian, and published for the first time here in translation in July. The selected poems and fables of Aulò! Aulò! Aulò! reflect on the immigrant experience in Europe and draw – literally – from the oral poetic tradition of Eritrea, where Sibhatu was born – in the capital Asmara – in 1962. Eritrea’s folkloric canon of oral literature has been handed down through the ages in the form of ‘aulòs’, which means: ‘Please give me permission! I have something to say publicly in rhyme!’

Poet Ribka Sibhatu will be talking to her translator André Naffis-Sahely about Italian and East African poetry, some wider political issues and the nitty-gritty of the translation process

After being wrongly imprisoned as a teenager, Sibhatu – a poet, writer and refugee-rights activist – fled to Addis Ababa, where she completed her education. In 1986, she married a Frenchman and began a new life in Lyons where her daughter was born, moving to Italy when the marriage ended. It was here that her much-admired Aulò! Canto poesia dall’Eritrea (Sinnos) first came out in 1993, before being revised and expanded in 2009.

During this event, Sibhatu will be talking to her translator André Naffis-Sahely about Italian and East African poetry, some wider political issues and the nitty-gritty of the translation process. The pair have worked closely together for over 10 years, with Naffis-Sahely (himself from Abu Dhabi, but born in Venice to an Iranian father and an Italian mother) translating Sibhatu’s poetry to bring it to the attention of English-speaking audiences – successfully, as Aulò! Aulò! Aulò! is the winner of a PEN Translates award.

This event on the special Ribka Sibhatu Tour, part of the World Poet Series, is supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe culture programme.

23 July 2020 Entrance is free Visit now

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