Reesom Haile / Charles Cantalupo  

poetry by Reesom Haile, poet laureate of Eritrea with introduction and translation by Charles Cantalupo:

Dear Africans
Thy Brother's Envy
"Ova Signora"
The Camel

 A U D I O
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Poet and scholar, Dr. Reesom Haile returned to Eritrea after a twenty-year exile, which included teaching in Communications at The New School for Social Research in New York and a subsequent career as a Development Communications Consultant, working with UN Agencies, governments and NGOs around the world. His first collection of poems in Tigrinya, Waza Ms Qumneger Ntnsae won the 1998 Raimok prize, Eritrea's highest award for literature. His second collection in Tigrinya is Bahlna Bahlbana (Our Culture Our Pleasure). Translated with the American poet and critic, Charles Cantalupo, a bilingual, Tigrinya/English collection of Reesom Haile’s poetry, We Have Our Voice, has been published by the Red Sea Press. We Have Our Voice is also a two-volume CD, available from Red Sea Press will publish a second bilingual collection, We Invented the Wheel, later this year. National as well as international critical acclaim has established Reesom Haile as Eritrea’s national poet. In Amiri Baraka’s words, "Reesom Haile’s spare poetic line carries the weight of incisive image, narrative clarity, irony plus a droll humor that speaks ever after you finished reading." For Carole Boyce Davies, "Reesom Haile offers poetry that is at once sensual and seductive, wise and politically clever, full of wonderful surprises. His poems communicate the author's deep love for life, his country, absolute freedom and the magic of the word." In Bob Holman’s judgement, "Reesom Haile is Poet Laureate of Eritrea in the only way possible: elected by the people in the streets. His countrymen & women know and love his poems by heart, shout them back at him, confront him as if literature might walk, and breathe, and engage as life always engages in Asmara, shoulder to shoulder and lip to ear. How's that sound? is not a question here, because language and music and the great script Ge’ez all resonate full body."

Charles Cantalupo's books include literary criticism — Against All Odds: African Languages and Literatures into the 21st Century, Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Texts and Contexts and The World of Ngugi wa Thiong'o (Africa World Press), A Literary Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes's Masterpiece of Language (Bucknell University Press) and Poetry, Mysticism, and Feminism: from th' nave to the chops (Spectacular Diseases) — poetry — Anima/l Wo/man and Other Spirits (Spectacular Diseases) — and poetry in translation: We Have Our Voice: Selected Poetry of Reesom Haile which is also available on CD (, and We Invented the Wheel. Cantalupo’s essays and poetry have appeared in numerous journals, and he has given many lectures and poetry readings throughout America, Europe and Africa. His translations include poetry in Gikuyu, Russian, and Tigrinya. His plays have been produced in America, Cameroon, Puerto Rico and Morocco. In 1994, he directed Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Texts and Contexts, the largest conference ever held on an African writer. He was co-chair of Against All Odds: African Languages and Literatures into the 21st Century, a seven-day conference and festival devoted to the presentation and critical discussion of the languages and literatures of all of Africa, held in Asmara, Eritrea, in January, 2000, and he continues as co-director of the initiative. Professor of English and Comparative Literature at The Pennsylvania State University, Schuylkill Campus, he is married with four children and lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 100 yards north of the grave of H.D.