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Cover of Think of Lampedusa translated by Todd Fredson
October 2017
University of Nebraska Press

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Think of Lampedusa

Josué Guébo
Translated by: 
Todd Fredson

A collection of serial poems, "Think of Lampedusa" addresses the 2013 shipwreck that killed 366 Africans attempting to migrate secretly to Lampedusa, an Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. The crossing from North Africa to this island and other Mediterranean way stations has become the most dangerous migrant route in the world. Interested in what is producing such epic displacement, Josué Guébo’s poems combine elements of history and mythology.

Guébo considers the Mediterranean not only as a literal space but also as a space of expectation, anxiety, hope and anguish for migrants. He meditates on the long history of narratives and bodies trafficked across the Mediterranean Sea. What did it — and what does it — connect and separate? Whose sea is it? Ultimately he is searching for what motivates a person to become part of what he calls a “seasonal suicide epidemic.”

This translation of Guébo’s "Songe à Lampedusa," winner of the Tchicaya U Tam’si Prize for African Poetry, is a searing work from a major African poet.


Translator Todd Fredson earned his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Arizona State University in 2007.

Praise for this book

“I can’t help but be moved by this large ambition of Josué Guébo, by his impossible task of bringing together poetics as different as those of Whitman and Mallarmé, by his huge desire to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves and also to find the secret of lyric utterance.”

Ilya Kaminsky
Author of "Dancing in Odessa" and "Musica Humana"