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No Gods Live Here

No Gods Live Here

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By Conceição Lima
Translated by David Shook

Winner of the 2021 Words Without Borders—Academy of American Poets Poems in Translation Contest

No Gods Live Here, the first book-length collection by a woman from São Tomé to appear in English, is grounded in the lush islands' history of slavery, colonialism, and independence.

Publication Date: April 16th, 2024

Paperback ISBN: 9781646053322
eBook ISBN: 9781646053339


A career-spanning collection from giant of Santomean poetry Conceição Lima, No Gods Live Here catalogues and memorializes the cruelties and triumphs of the country's past alongside the poet's own childhood poems set against the tiny island nation's distinctive flora and geography. Through vivid imagery, Lima evokes São Tomé and Príncipe, from popular Santomean music to imagery of fishermen on the beach, while remaining ever aware of the subjective meeting of memory, time, and place.

Through poetry, Lima unites past and present to resurrect hope in human creation and the possibility of metamorphosis.

Biographical Note

Conceição Lima was born in 1961 in the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe, where she resides today. She studied journalism in Portugal and attended graduate school in London, where she later worked as a producer at the BBC’s Portuguese Language Service. She has published four books of poetry: O Útero da Casa (The Womb of the House) in 2004, A Dolorosa Raiz do Micondó (The Painful Root of the Micondó) in 2006, O País de Akendenguê (The Country of Akendenguê) in 2011, and Quando Florirem Salambás no Tecto do Pico (When Velvet Tamarinds Flower on Pico de São Tomé) in 2015. Her work in Shook’s translation has appeared in the Literary Review, Jai-Alai, and World Literature Today.

Shook is a poet and translator whose work with Conceição Lima has been recognized with a 2017 Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and as a winner of the 2021 Words Without Borders—Academy of American Poets Poems in Translation Contest.


“This prize-winning translation haunts. In the vein of a paracolonial text, the poem examines the specters of a racialized human commodity and its ecological aftermath. As if magic or conjure, ‘Afroinsularity’ launches with hints of ghosts and ends in a colony of haints. The reading of each deftly interpreted line thrusts the reader to beautifully confront the ways in which land holds the stories that history attempts to colonize, and how land will out the truth until the long-buried rest.” —Citation by Airea D. Matthews, 2021 Judge of the Words Without Borders—Academy of American Poets Poems in Translation Contest

Conceição Lima has emerged in the postcolonial period as one of lusophone Africa's foremost contemporary poets." —Russell G. Hamilton