From Négritude to Coolitude: The Visionary Poetry of Khal Torabully
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC | "[Torabully's] work contains all of my humanity." --Aimé Césaire
Torabully has taken the derogatory term “coolie,” and re-visioned, re-imagined, and re-defined it to also encompass the richness of geographical, biological, and cultural mixing. Torabully’s migrant heritage—and immersion in Creole, French, English, and to a lesser degree, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Arabic and Chinese--permeate his work.
In language at once musical and sensual, resilient and revolutionary, Torabuly imagines the nearly unimaginable: the suffering, through the ages, of indentured laborers, carried in the same ships that once transported slaves to Mauritian sugar cane fields.
Khal Torabully is a critically acclaimed poet, essayist, film director, and semiologist from Mauritius who has authored over 25 books. Torabully’s mission has been to give voice to the suffering of millions of indentured laborers, mostly from India and China, who became indentured either by choice or deception. He coined the term “coolitude,” imbuing the term with a sense of dignity and pride, with a strong and resilient cultural identity and language. Torabully is a key part of UNESCO’S International Indentured Labour Route Project.
Nancy Naomi Carlson, translator and poet, has authored twelve titles (eight translated). An Infusion of Violets (Seagull, 2019) was named “New & Noteworthy” by The New York Times. A recipient of two translation grants from the NEA, she was a finalist for the Best Translated Book Award and the CLMP Firecracker Award. Decorated with the rank of Chevalier in the Order of the French Academic Palms, she is the Translations Editor for On the Seawall.