A World of Poets: Enoh Meyomesse

To mark World Poetry Day this Thursday, 21 March, all this week we are paying tribute to poets who have been persecuted or imprisoned in violation of their right to free expression. Today we are honouring Cameroonian poet, writer and activist Enoh Meyomesse.

On 27 December 2012, having already spent 13 months in prison, Enoh Meyomesse was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated.  PEN considers his incarceration to be in violation of his right to free expression and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.  

In November 2012, Meyomesse self-published a powerful collection of poetry he has written whilst in detention, Poème carcéral: Poésie du pénitencier de Kondengui (Les Editions de Kamerun, November 2012). You can read the collection in French here.

To show our support for Enoh Meyomesse and to help raise and maintain awareness of his case, English PEN is now working on a crowd-sourced translation of the collection, from French to English. Taking inspiration from our hugely successful Poems for Pussy Riot project, we will be posting translations of Meyomesse’s poems on our website over the coming months, with a view to publishing e-book and print-on-demand collections later this year.

The following poems have been translated from the original French by Dick Jones.

The Placard

it hung around my neck

the damned placard

it hung


and the television cameras

and the gawping bystanders

and the gazing eyes of people

across the whole world

were reading


my name

across it

it straddled my neck

the damned placard

it straddled it


they’d slung it there

they’d hung it there

they’d fixed it there

and under my name

there was inscribed

an abomination

o supreme humiliation


Why do you treat me like this


why do you treat me like this

simply because I don’t

see things your way


do you control words

do you control spirits

do you control souls

do you control tongues


o 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


 More poems by Enoh Meyomesse

When I get out of here’ – translated by Elizabeth Heighway

The Cursed Truck’ – translated by Katy Thompsett

Doors’ – translated by Natasha Lehrer


Send a message of support

If you would be interested in sending a message of support directly to Enoh Meyomesse, please email cat@englishpen.org for further details.

Send a letter of appeal

Please send appeals:

  • Protesting the conviction of writer and activist Enoh Meyomesse on politically motivated charges and the seven-year prison sentence handed down to him on 27 December 2012;
  • Calling on the Cameroonian authorities to quash the conviction and to release Meyomesse immediately and unconditionally.

Write to:

His Excellency Mr. Nkwelle Ekaney
Cameroon High Commission
84 Holland Park
W11 3SB 
Fax: 020 7792 0608
Email: info@cameroonhighcommission.co.uk

Or you could use the form below.  A sample letter is provided but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.

[ecampaign ‘to=info@cameroonhighcommission.co.uk’ subject=”Freedom for Enoh Meyomesse”]

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to protest the continued detention of writer and activist Enoh Meyomesse.

According to PEN’s information, on 27 December 2012 writer Enoh Meyomesse was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated. He had already been detained for 13 months prior to this conviction, despite all previous charges against him having been dropped in June 2012.

Enoh Meyomesse continues to be held in the over-crowded Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé where he has been held in solitary confinement and subject to torture. There are widespread concerns for his health and well-being.

I believe that Enoh Meyomesse has been detained in violation of his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and respectfully call on the Cameroonian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,


About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

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