Tuesday Poem – Jail Verse – Enoh Meyomesse


you visited me that day

and the black night, without stars

without moonbeams

without fireflies without future

without anything

you could cut it with a machete

like the night when my feet

lost their way behind

the village hut

oh God in heaven



beat down on me

and you oh earth

        yes you oh earth

               you had stopped


by Enoh Meomesse -translated by Grace Hetherington.




 Why do you treat me like this

simply because I don’t

             see things your way


have you not freed words

have you not freed spirits

have you not freed souls

have you not freed tongues


oh leaders of this regime

custodians of my people’s destiny

why do you treat me like this

simply because I don’t

             see things your way


by Enoh Meyomesse -translated by Dick Jones.


Last week in the New Zealand Society of Authors, I saw this entry.

PEN – Jail Verse: Poems from Kondengui Prison

Pen Matters! 

English PEN launches a print-on-demand version of Enoh Meyomesse’s poetry collection, Jail Verse: Poems from Kondengui Prison, to help raise much-needed funds for the imprisoned activist and poet.

I downloaded a copy. Reading this collection, I was reminded of how lucky we are in New Zealand and hopefully many other countries, to still have the right of free speech. Long may it last! I felt humbled and grateful in turn as I read Enoh’s poems. Poems of unimaginable despair which still contain threads of hope. Poems of the love he has for his country….I am not qualified to describe the feelings behind them. In his Introduction, to Enoh’s verses, Ollie Brock describes them as passionate and visceral, poems which often do not make for comfortable reading.

Free Enoh a banner from 'Pen'
Free Enoh a banner from ‘Pen’

The download is free but all donations help. You can find out how to do both below.

‘ Cameroonian  activist and poet Enoh Meyomesse’s most recent appeal hearing, scheduled for 16  January, was postponed. This is the seventh time that this has happened since  his case was first referred to a civil court for appeal in April 2013. The next  hearing has now been rescheduled for 20 February.
Arrested in  November 2011, Enoh Meyomesse was detained for over a year before being  sentenced to seven years in prison for supposed complicity in the theft and  illegal sale of gold. These ongoing delays mean that Meyomesse has now been  behind bars for more than two years on what are widely believed to be trumped-up  charges. As a result of the numerous postponements and additional months in  prison, funds to cover Meyomesse’s legal fees and daily needs – including food,  medicine, family visits, and writing materials – are now  dwindling.
In late 2013,  English PEN launched a crowd-sourced translation of the volume of poetry  Meyomesse has written in prison, in order to raise funds for him and his family,  and greater awareness of his case. We’re pleased to announce that the full  collection Jail Verse: Poems from Kondengui Prison is now available to  print-on-demand. As with the ebook version, all proceeds will be used to support  Enoh Meyomesse and our ongoing work on behalf of writers at risk around the  world. Click here to order your copy.’ (NZSA E-ZINE Friday March 14th)


For more information about Pen International and Pen New Zealand,  go here

To read a review of Jail Verse from The Huffington Post,  go here

If you want to read about how it is in prison for Enoh now, or /and if you woud like to write a letter supporting his release, please go here

See also my next blog which features Enoh’s  poem ‘ I have forgot you oh without’

And now I recommend you go to Tuesday Poem and read Michelle Elvy’s sparkling editorial before you delve into the riches in the sidebar … from those  who are free to enjoy sharing their poems in safety.

6 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem – Jail Verse – Enoh Meyomesse”

  1. Thanks for visiting Emma. As regards researching topics such as these…it’s such a complex situation that one merely touches the tip of the iceberg. Every little bit though:-)

  2. This is a great post – and even if it’s the tip of the iceberg, it’s a necessary thing. Your posts are always so full of compassion, and purpose. Good to come here today, to be reminded of the beauty of words and thoughts, from a poet like this. Thank you.

  3. Thanks Michelle. And great to have your comment on the poems. It takes a special kind of person to write in beauty while confined to a prison cell. And now we are looking for someone to translate Enoh’s words into Maori…Do you know of anyone?

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