I am glad to know that a selection of my poems is being presented today in Mexico. I would very much have loved to be present. It would have been like going home away from home if you recall some opinion polls which claim that Mexicans and Nigerians share some very strong traits. Thanks to the new technologies, to ICT, I am truly glad to be able to speak to you from Lagos at short notice. It is not the same as being present. But it is the closest to being with you in person.
The new technologies throw bridges across the world as poetry has striven to bridge the hearts and minds across time and space - from generation to generation - bringing people together to share common sensibilities and a common morality. It is my hope that this little collection, Ninos del estero, will say something to Mexicans and the Spanish speaking world in a way that strikes cords of thriving empathies.
Thankfully, my translator is the best I could have got. Every Spanish speaker who has encountered Maria Baranda's translations has marvelled at the proficiency of the performance. To have the luck of being translated by such a wonderful poet is like winning an award. I do feel like a prize winner. To crown my luck, we have a daring publisher who has put services to artistic value above immediate commercial success.Poetry continues to enjoy a rootedness in the world because of such great souls. They are saving a risk for culture upon which human civilization depends.
Our publisher, Mala Vida, deserves applause: as does Maria Antonieta Flores, the Venezuelan poet whose words and interpretations have preceded me into several Latin American countries. I want to thank her and all of you present for taking poetry seriously enough to stand by one poet from very far away. I see your fine gesture as a challenge to continue doing what poetry has done down the ages: to seek to purify language, enhance music in speech, and sustain the sisterhood of all tongues.
Although I cannot be with you in person, I see your presentation as an early but special gift on my 58th birthday which comes up 16th March, 2008. I am highly indebted to you all. I salute your love of poetry and your goodwill towards a mere maker of metaphors.
May you have a good road under every sky.
(8th March, 2008)
- Message sent by the poet to the presentation of the Spanish translation of his "Children of the Creeks" - held today at the El Palacio de Cortés in Cuanavaca, Mexico.