Sand and Snow in Symbiosis
Edited by Jeffrey A. Lockwood and Mohamed Abdellahi Ould Babah Ebbe
Ekphraistic poetry by various Anglophone and Arabaphone poets.
Every corner of the Earth bears the mark of its inhabitants, from the ocean's depths where whales etch bubble trails, to the skies crisscrossed by airplanes. These traces tell countless stories and invite us to ponder the journeys of others, be they insects, animals, or humans. Our own imprints—roads, digital data, literature—are but fleeting signs of our existence. This book, a blend of photography and poetry, seeks to capture the ephemeral yet enduring essence of our passage. While the physical may fade, the hope is that these artistic expressions will resonate through time, fostering connections and cultural continuities far beyond their creators' lives.
"Traces is a poetic dialogue between the south, the north, the west, and the east—between the urban Bedouin, the American-British-Chinguetti. It is a distinctive feature of this work that it does not rely on pure translation, but rather probes the feelings that came before the poetic creations in the form of words in a specific language. As such, it extends a bridge of visions and words between the shores of the Atlantic Ocean."
—Khalil Ennahoui, Professor
"Because ecopoetry itself is crucial to our realizing any hope of extending earth’s habitability for humans, applying the concept “ecopoetry” to Traces reveals in it another form of value, in addition to the obvious pleasure that infuses this project born of friendship and realized through international, cross-cultural collaboration. Tradition (applying a formulation that goes back to the Roman poet Horace) holds poetry responsible, and finds poetry able, “to delight and teach.”
—H. L. Hix, Professor in the Philosophy & Religious Studies Department
and the Creative Writing Program, University of Wyoming
"Hassani poetry, or what Mauritanians call “Song” poetry in the Lghne dialect, is a form of popular poetry that exists in all Arab countries under different names and can be considered, if one may say, as a synonym of Arabic poetry, albeit with differences in vocabulary and versification… The abundance of Hassani dialect poetry exceeds that of classical Arabic poetry, making Mauritania “the land of a million poets.”
—Mohamed Abdellahi Ould BABAH E. Horma Abdeljelil, Professor
"Traces derives from the idea that what matters in a poet’s life and work is not the proof of the poet’s passage—the physical evidence of being—but the traces of it. Not our bodies, not our ideas, neither matter nor spirit… What we’re left with is the awareness of how evanescent life is—its consequent fragility and beauty."
—David Romtvedt, Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing,
University of Wyoming
From the Editor's original inception of the Anthology:
We are proposing a book of ekphrastic poems catalyzed by images of animal tracks in the sand of Africa’s Sahara desert and the snow of Wyoming’s Snowy Mountains. The images were taken by a pair of biologists—an American (Jeffrey A. Lockwood) and a Mauritanian (Mohamed Abdellahi Ould Babah EBBE)—who have been scientific colleagues and good friends for 24 years. The tracks represent a wide range of creatures native to our respective homelands (~20 from each place).
The writers were assigned images that either matched their environment (i.e., sand tracks to Mauritanian poets and snow tracks to US/UK poets) or contrasted with their conditions (i.e., sand tracks to US/UK poets and snow tracks to Mauritanian poets). And in a few cases, the same sand or snow image was provided to poets from both places.
The goal of this venture is to create aesthetic bridges between distant lands to evoke a sense of common ground in terms of ecology and culture. The organizers/editors of the project have found over many years that what they have in common—despite their very different homelands, faiths (Sufi Moslem and Unitarian Universalist), languages (Arabic, French and English), foods (camel’s milk cheese and cheddar cheese), and arts (nifara and saxophone)—is far greater and deeper than what divides them. And the world is in desperate need of both celebrating cultural differences and embracing our shared humanity."