No Serenity Here Edited by Kaiyu Xiao, Isabel Ferrin-Aguirre and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers

01 Oct 2010
No Serenity Here

An anthology of African poetry in English, French, Portuguese Amharic and Arabic translated into Chinese. Six months, about 1000 e-mails, one facebook chat and here it is: No Serenity Here, a contemporary anthology of African poetry to be launched during the Shanghai Biennale in October 2010. Original poems in English, French, Portuguese, Arabic and Amharic will be published alongside their Chinese translations. The volume includes Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, along with voices from 25 African countries, and was translated by a team of Chinese poets under the guidance of Kaiyu Xiao.

Edited by Xiao in China, Isabel Ferrin-Aguirre in Berlin and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers in Johannesburg, No Serenity Here celebrates established writers such as Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana), Makhosazana Xaba and Lebo Mashile (South Africa), Veronique Tadjo (Cote d’Ivoire) and Fatima Naoot (Morocco), and introduce lesser known yet brilliant voices like TJ Dema (Botswana), Shailja Patel (Kenya) and Tania Tome (Mocambique), as well as Amanda Hammar and Joyce Chigiya (both from Zimbabwe).

Besides the veterans like Soyinka (Nigeria), Kofi Anyodoho (Ghana), Chirikure Chirikure (Zimbabwe), James Matthews (South Africa) and Keorapetse Kgositsile (South Africa’s Poet Laureate, whose poem lent the title to the anthology), the volume also showcases the prodigious talents of Shabbir Bhanoobhai (South Africa), Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Ghana), Tolu Ogunlesi and Obododimma Oha (Nigeria), Stanley Onjezani Kenani (Malawi) and Beaven Tapureta (Zimbabwe), Keamogetsi Molapong and Dorian Haarhoff (Namibia), Hama Tuma and Alemu Tebeje Ayele (both from Ethiopia).

“We read widely, but it was the contact with contemporary poets that brought the project to life and delivered its unique vibrancy and varied voice,” says Ferrin-Aguirre, who also worked until recently as a programmer for the Berlin Poesiefestival and researcher for the Literatuurwerkstatt, a global database of poets which collects recordings of poets reciting their work in their original languages in its Lyrikline project.

Acclaimed Chinese poet and academic Kaiyu Xiao admits in his foreword: “the poems … would make me physically quiver as the poems shattered my expectations.” Many of the poets are appearing in print for the first time, and most of them for the first time in Chinese.

“African writers have made an important contribution to the world reservoir of thought on the human condition; this is just a small part of the literary wealth that we have to offer. China has given us so much, and I’m proud that we are reciprocating,” said writer and performer de Villiers.

Published by World Knowledge Publishers and commissioned by artist and philanthropist Mr Hu, the tri-continental project also received support from the Jiang Nan Art and Design Foundation and the Moonchu Foundation.
Comments / Other Information: The 244 page book is distributed by Xarra Books and is available online at

For further information contact Phillippa Yaa de Villiers

Date of Publication: October 2010
ISBN: 978-7-5012-3895-8m
Publisher: World Knowledge Publishers, Beijing