Mother Tongues

Tsitsi Ella Jaji

Tsitsi Ella Jaji’s third collection of poems, Mother Tongues, begins at home, with the first words and loves we learn, and the most intimate vows we swear.

This is what we have done since before
the border between wild and free was pinned

The body politics of personal narratives embed into poems that collect the cycles of lives and languages that have shaped the wonders and worlds of Africa and America. 

Jaji’s artful verse is a three-tiered gourd of sustenance, vessel, and folklore. The tongues speak the beginnings and present. The tongues that capture and claim the losses, ironies, and a poet’s human evolution. How deep does your language go back? The language of your childhood, the language of our aging? How deeply do we wear and hear our fore-tongues? How close do we sometimes forget they are? Mother Tongues is the gift, a collection of language unto itself that translates directly to the heart. 

Book Jacket for "Mother Tongues" by Tsitsi Jaji