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Yarri Kamara

The project
“African Eye, African Mirror” (Genre: Essay and poetry)

African Eye, African Mirror is a hybrid project combining poetry and essays on societal issues. Each poem offers a visceral plunge into a topic that is followed by a more quietly lucid exploration of the issue in essay form. The essays will be written in limpid non-academic language and in an engaging style, and attempt to “pay attention to the world” as exhorted by Susan Sontag.

Idea development

The poem-essay pairs will be divided into two categories. The first category, the African Eye, interrogates global issues from an African perspective. Climate change, migration, artificial intelligence and global demography will be addressed. The second category, the African Mirror, interrogates specifically African social phenomena: African women’s relation with their hair, the disappearing heritage of indigenous African first names, what it means to be a copy-cat society and the history of extraverted consumption in Africa. Each essay will be approximately 4,000 to 6,000 words in length and the book will be composed of a total of eight poem-essays pairs.  Budget-permitting, each poem may be accompanied by a salient photo or illustration. A potential side product is the production of poem videos for three of the most successful poems in the collection to make the crucial interrogations that African Eye, African Mirror will address accessible to audiences who do not read.

© Goethe-Institut


Yarri Kamara © Anne Mimault Yarri Kamara is a late-blooming writer. For more than fifteen years she worked as a public policy researcher and consultant for governments and international organizations. She is a graduate in both economics and French literature, and likes to combine cold analysis and artistic intuition to investigate phenomena. Having published various research and technical studies, Yarri started writing for general audiences in 2018 in the form of commentary, essays and poetry. Her work has appeared in Africa is a Country, African Arguments, So Many Stories Uganda, Kalahari Review, Courrier International and Welt-Sichten. Also a literary translator, Yarri won a 2020 PEN-Heim Translation Grant for her translation of Monique Ilboudo’s novel Si loin de ma vie [So Distant from my Life, forthcoming August 2022].

Born in Sierra Leone, Yarri has lived in Uganda, Kenya, and Burkina Faso on the African continent as well as in Europe and the United States. She has a resolutely pan-African outlook and an inveterate curiosity about world cultures.