Sylvie Kandé is an award-winning poet and a scholar.
Gestuaire (poèmes), published in 2016 by Gallimard in the Collection Blanche was short-listed for the Prix Kowalski des Lycéens, and received the Prix Louise Labé in 2017.
La Quête infinie de l'autre rive. Épopée en trois chants (Gallimard, Continents Noirs, 2011), short-listed for the Prix Mahogany and the Prix des Découvreurs, received the Prix Lucienne Gracia-Vincent 2017 under the auspices of Fondation Saint-John Perse. Staged at La Mézière in May 2017, La quête infinie de l’autre rive. Épopée en trois chants will appear in English and in German. Poet Alexander Dickow received a 2018 PEN/Heim grant to complete the English translation of this collection.
Lagon, lagunes. Tableau de mémoire (Gallimard, Continents noirs, 2000) is a collection of poetic prose with a postface signed by Édouard Glissant.
She has been invited to read in venues such as the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the French Embassy in New Delhi, and Fondation Saint John Perse in Aix-en-Provence; in several poetry houses (Paris, Rennes), in various universities (Columbia U., U. of La Réunion, Paris XII, U. of Milan) and in literary festivals (Africajarc, Lettres sur cour, Fête de la Terre à Fontaine-Daniel, among others). She also appeared on radio and TV programs.
Since 2017, she is heading the “Caribbean” jury for the yearly prize granted to a Caribbean writer by the Association des Écrivains de Langue Française (ADELF) founded by Jacques Chevrier.
Holding a PhD in African history from Sorbonne (Paris VII), Sylvie Kandé wrote an essay on the Créoles/Krio of Sierra Leone for the Volume IX of the General History of Africa to be published by UNESCO. Her first book, entitled Terres, urbanisme et architecture 'créoles' en Sierra Leone, 18ème-19ème siècles (L’Harmattan, 1998), dealt with an example of the back-to-Africa movement. She edited the proceedings of the international conférence she organized at NYU, which were published by L’Harmattan in 1999 under the title Discours sur le métissage, identités métisses. En quête d'Ariel.
Her various essays, at the crossroad between history and literature, include "Africa and the European Renaissance”, published in 2004 in the Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature, an analysis of the cast system in Ahmadou Kourouma’s work (in Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World. The Idea of “the Middle Ages” outside Europe. John Hopkins U. Press, 2009), commentaries on Édouard Glissant’ and Marie NDiaye’s writings (Siècle 21) as well as in-depth film reviews (cf. “Look Homeward, Angel: Maroons & Mulattoes in Haile Gerima’s Sankofa” and “‘Ach, wäre ich doch Pygmäe!’ Die Figur des Babinga-Trägers in Le silence de la forêt von Bassek ba Kobhio”)
Co-translator of a collection of short-stories written by the indigenous Australian novelist Alexis Wright, published as Le Pacte du serpent arc-en-ciel (Actes Sud, 2002) and translator of Heart of Spain. Robert Capa’s photographs of the Spanish Civil War (Aperture, 2002), she has translated essays and summaries for the bilingual journal, Clio. Femmes, Genre et Histoire. She has also transcribed and translated documentaries realized by photographer Martine Barrat.
She is a member of the PEN American Center (translation committee), the Association of the Louis-le-Grand school alumni, and MLA. Having launched the program of Francophone studies at NYU, she now teaches as an Africanist in the SUNY system.