Gambian poet Tijan M. Sallah has a new collection of poetry. The collection is titled I Come From a Country and was published by Africa World Press.
The collection opens with an introduction, in which Sallah asks what home means. Is it a destination, person, or even a feeling? Sallah explores these questions and more through poems centered on the power of place to shape our experience of the world. The poems in this collection evoke images of the Gambia as a central place in Sallah’s imagination of home, as well as meditating on the idea of home in relation to the environment, travel, and as a response to death.
Sallah grew up in Serrekunda and Banjul, capital of The Gambia. A poet, editor, writer, and economist, he has been on the African literary scene for a long time. His poetry and short stories have been featured in major African poetry and short story anthologies such as The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry edited by Ulli Beier and Gerald Moore and the Heinemann Book of Contemporary African Short Stories edited by Chinua Achebe and C. L. Innes.
I Come From a Country offers a powerfully evocative sense of The Gambia and has some unique descriptions that parallel nature and the modern industrious spaces in the country. In the poem “the red-billed hornbills of Coco Ocean,” the poet encounters a wild hornbill during a stay at a luxury hotel. “In a tropical country” begins with describing the “green distances of tall and slender palm trees” but going into the busy metropolitan experiences of arriving in the Yundum Airport. The collection also takes the reader on a bit of a world tour, with Sallah’s poetic musings spanning Washington D.C., India, and China to name a few. “Ode to Asia” addresses themes like poverty, history, industrialization, and human connection across descriptions of China, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Thailand. With each poem, Sallah details the ways we live and remember the spaces that shape our sense of ourselves and the world around us. As poet E. Ethelbert Miller remarks: “Sallah writes about home after traveling around the world. He offers love without apology. There is brightness in this book.”
If you enjoyed poetry that capture the spirit of place such as Kayo Chingonyi’s A Blood Condition and Togara Muzanenhamo’s Virga, you will appreciate the evocative beauty of Sallah’s new collection.
Read a snippet of the collection’s description and see below for buying options.
Tijan M. Sallah, the celebrated Gambian poet, returns with this new collection, I Come from a Country. This time his concern is his country of birth-how it has changed or remained the same, and how the poet himself has changed. This collection also meanders into the poet’s encounter with nature, and his travels to other places, including China, Philippines and Bangladesh. Lastly, the poet reflects on the challenges of mid-life and of growing old, including remembrances of literary personalities, his friends Lenrie Peters, Nadine Gordimer, and Chinua Achebe, who have succumbed to the grim reaper. This is a remarkable collection, conversational in style and daring in its range and ambition.
BUY I Come from a Country: Africa World Press