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Written by Cheikh Tidiane Gaye

Translated from the Italian by Bellesia Contuzzi and Victoria Offredi Poletto

Narrated by Bill Wolak



I went to the florist and brought you a bouquet of flowers

I stamped your prints in the gallery of my heart

In the woods I gathered chestnuts the color of your hair

And when I got up it was noon

lunch postponed because of your sweet gaze.

I kissed you.


I entered the room and your shadow was lighting the bed

I took your hand under the sheets of my gaze

only your scent remained, dense perfume

and when I awoke it was midnight

No dinner because of your sweet gaze.

I was giving you my body,

I kissed you.


But when from afar the women cried out

battered, I took your hand in mine, certain to leave you no more.

And I will never leave you: you are to me the flower and not the slave.



(Excerpt from Il canto del Djiali. Edizioni dell’arco, 2007 and Kanaga Edizioni, 2018)

Italian by choice, Cheikh Tidiane Gaye was born in 1971 in Senegal. A poet, philosopher, and writer, he is a member of Swiss Italian & Reto-Romansh PEN Centre. Writing has always been his secret passion that blossomed in the Italian environment and language. He distinguished himself in many fields, mainly as a poet and novelist. Some of his works have been included in university programs in Italy. He has won important literary awards and contributes to the Italian cultural scene with his talks, readings, and poetic performances that are a testament to his consistent participation in the life of his adopted country. Recently, he was honored in Craiova, Romania, for his cultural commitment and the literary quality of his poems. He is founding president of the Leopold Sedar Senghor International Poetry Prize and is the first African to translate Senghor’s poems into Italian.

Giovanna Bellesia Contuzzi (Professor Emerita) and Victoria Offredi Poletto (Senior Lecturer Emerita) have taught and collaborated in the Department of Italian Studies at Smith College since 1990. They are committed to bringing the voices of migrant and second-generation writers to the English-speaking world.  Together they have translated many short stories from Italian into English as well as five books books: Genevieve Makaping’s Reversing the Gaze: What if the Other Were You? and Adrian N. Braviâ’s My Language is a Jealous Lover (both forthcoming Rutgers University Press, 2023); Gabriella Ghermandiâ’s Regina di fiori e di perle and Cristina Ali Farahâ’s Little Mother (both with Indiana University Press, 2015 and 2007); and Dacia Marainiâ’s Stowaway on Board (Bordighera Press, 2000).


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