Tanella Boni is a major African poet, and this book, The Future Has an Appointment with the Dawn, is her first full collection to be translated into English. These poems wrestle with the ethnic violence and civil war that dominated life in West Africa’s Ivory Coast in the first decade of the new millennium. Boni maps these events onto a mythic topography where people live among their ancestors and are subject to the whims of the powerful, who are at once magical and all too petty. The elements—the sun, the wind, the water—are animated as independent forces, beyond simile or metaphor. Words, too, are elemental, and the poet is present in the landscape—“during these times / I searched for the letters / for the perfect word.” Boni affirms her desire for hope in the face of ethno‑cultural and state violence although she acknowledges that desiring to hope and hoping are not the same.
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