A Rain of Words ***
Although the past two decades have seen a wide recognition of the notable fiction written in French by African women, little attention has been given to their equally significant poetry. A Rain of Words is the first comprehensive attempt to survey the poetic production of these women, collecting work by forty-seven poets from a dozen francophone African countries. Some are established writers; others are only beginning to publish their work. Almost none of the poems here have been published outside of Africa or Europe or been previously translated into English. The poems are accompanied by brief biographies of the poets. Supplementing these are a critical introductory essay by Irène Assiba d'Almeida that places women's poetry in the context of recent African history, characterizes its thematic and aesthetic features, and traces the process by which the anthology was compiled and edited, an essay by Janis A. Mayes discussing language politics, the cultural contexts within which the poetry emerges, and literary translation strategies, and an extensive bibliography.