The Parley Tree does not pretend to be an all-encompassing portrait of the work of French-speaking poets of Africa and the Arab World. Rather, it is a glimpse of some of the most representative voices of the poetic movements and generations in the Francophone countries of the whole continent of Africa, and as such, seeks to do away with the divisions that traditionally separate North Africa from Sub-Saharan Africa, and the African world from the Arab world.
Poetry is one of the major forms of literary expression in these two regions, and the French-language poetry of the countries included in this anthology is clearly only one dimension of an overall poetic landscape shared with other national languages such as Arabic, Fula, Bambara, Berber, Wolof, among others. But it is a dimension that is recognized as being of great literary merit and worthy of the international acclaim it has attracted. The poets anthologized here — from North Africa, Sub Saharan Africa and the Arab World — have long wished to escape from artificial pigeon-holing and rather to be associated with common threads. The past half-century has confirmed their work as poetry of great literary quality, full of a unique vitality and presence, and The Parley Tree offers an insight into a whole world that might otherwise have remained closed off to English-language readers.