by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Ribka Sibhatu (1962-), ‘So bella nera’

Black market
black cats
black Friday..!
And they call me
‘of colour’.

“Coz black
ain’t decent,
ah don’ wanna diss you
bettah call you of colour.”

“No insult here!
I’m the one tellin’ ya
that I’m black‘n’beautiful!

For real, tho
I’m not really black black:
but more like leather
or chocolate.

I was jus’ Abyssine
Now’m a French-Eritrean
from Rome and mah
name is Ribka.

If it ain’t enough,
call me black,
I’m beautiful jus’ like that.”

Translator’s note: The original poem uses dialectal features typical of Rome. The closest approximation I could think of was to work with one of the London varieties of English, but ultimately chose a sociolect rather than a geographical dialect. Words such as ‘diss’, ‘decent’, and the various contractions are the result.

Featured image © Yves Salmon

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