A Welder of the Word

                               for Mia Couto

Dream,
     Dream,
          Dream.
Never cease to dream 

     Dream on, Mia
Your beginning 
A tale of yesterdays
     Your today
     A tale of future years

And the voyager never rests
Without his dancing plume

Beira, 
     Cradle of the people’s poet
Maputo, 
     Agency for the cosmic itinerant

Hibernating in royal skies
     Rooted in earthly machambas*
     Questing for moçambicanidade
Awaiting the cessation of wars
Declaring the imperative of peace

And the voyager never rests
Without his dancing plume 

Melody of words
In the wilderness of pages
     Litany of characters
     From the labyrinth of pain
          Horror provokes, fantasy begins
          Fantasy ends, horror begins
Never a clear demarcation
Writer Mia, you are the in-between!

And the voyager never rests
Without his dancing plume 

The bridge of life
We cross better
     When the crafty master
     A new Mozambique masks

And the voyager never rests
Without his dancing plume 

Full of dreams
     Full of life
Devoid of ignorance
     Enriched in hope
Nurtured by destiny

And the voyager never rests
Without his dancing plume

The Neustadt Prize is here!
     A salute to the Master 
A new dawn for Mia
      A new day in Oklahoma
A new deal for Mozambique 

And the voyager never rests
Without his dancing plume 

Norman, Oklahoma
October 24, 2014

 

* Land used for cultivation.
Mozambican identity.

Niyi Afolabi teaches Luso-Brazilian literature, Yoruba, and African diaspora studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Golden Cage: Regeneration in Lusophone African Literature and Culture and editor of The Afro-Brazilian Mind and Marvels of the African World, among others. He read this poem in honor of Mia Couto at the Neustadt banquet.

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