Synopses & Reviews
This eight-piece boxed set, an African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) project, features the work of seven African poets, with an introduction by Kwame Dawes, APBF series editor, and Chris Abani.
The boxed set is an annual project starting in 2014 to ensure the publication of seven chapbooks by African poets through participating publishers. Publication is made possible through Slapering Hol Press, in association with APBF and the literary journal Prairie Schooner, with support from The Poetry Foundation.
The chapbook contains:
and#8226;and#160;Mandible by TJ Dema
and#8226;and#160;The Cartographer of Water by Clifton Gachagua
and#8226;and#160;Carnaval by Tsitsi Jaji
and#8226;and#160;The Second Republic by Nick Makoha
and#8226;and#160;Ordinary Heaven by Ladan Osman
and#8226;and#160;Our Men Do Not Belong To Us by Wasan Shire
and#8226;and#160;Otherwise Everything Goes On by Len Verwey
“The judges of the first Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets have agreed that, without a doubt, we are experiencing in this book the opening noises of a poet who will make a great deal of important noise in the future.”—from the foreword by Kwame Dawes
Clifton Gachaguas collection Madman at Kilifi
, winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, concerns itself with the immediacy of cultures in flux, cybercommunication and the language of consumerism, polyglot politics and intrigue, sexual ambivalence and studied whimsy, and the mind of a sensitive, intelligent, and curious poet who stands in the midst of it all.
Gachaguas is a world fully grounded in the postmodern Kenyan cultural cauldron, a world in which people speak with “satellite mouths,” with bodies that are “singing machines,” and in which the most we can do is “collide against each other.” Here light is graceful, and we glow like undiscovered galaxies and shifting matter. And here as well, we find new expression in a poetry that moves as we do.
About the Author
TJ Dema was an Honorary Fellow in Writing of the University of Iowaand#8217;s International Writing Program, as well as Botswana's representative to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad's Poetry Parnassus and a recipient of a Vermont Studio Centre Writers Residency. As a long-time affiliate of the British Council in Botswana, she participated in Lancaster University's Crossing Borders program and later mentored the national champions for the seven-country Power in the Voice high school program. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Sampsonia Way, The Ofi Press
, and The Hummingbird Review
and was translated into Chinese for the multilingual anthology No Serenity Here
. When she is not writing, TJ runs Sauti Arts and Performance Management, an organization that handles arts administration on behalf of a select number of artists and writers. Her website is www.tjdema.blogspot.com.
and#160;Clifton Gachagua lives in Nairobi, where he was born and raised. His first collection of poems is Madman at Kalifi (Nebraska, 2014) and he recently finished workand#160;on a novel. Clifton is also a scriptwriter and filmmaker, currently developing a French-Nigerian feature-length film. He graduated with a bachelorand#8217;s degree in biomedical science. He has spent a considerable time of his life on East African highways, travelling from lake to coast and back, in search of both love and Jeffery Eugenidesand#8217;s Obscure Object.
and#160;Tsitsi Jaji earned her PhD (2009) in comparative literature from Cornell University with concentrations in African, Caribbean, and African American literature in English, French, and Spanish. Her first book, Africa in Stereo: Music, Modernism and pan-African Solidarity, traces Ghanaian, Senegalese, and South African responses to African American music in print and film and is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Her poetry has appeared in Bitter Oleander, Runes Review, InTensions and the Center for Book Arts Broadside Poetry Series. Originally from Zimbabwe, Dr. Jaji has conducted fieldwork throughout Southern and West Africa, with generous support from the TIAA-CREF Ruth Sims Hamilton Fellowship, and has been a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, a Society for the Humanities (Cornell) Mellon Graduate Fellow, and a Penn Humanities Forum Junior Faculty Fellow. During the 2012-13 year she is a Mary I. Bunting Institute Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
and#160;Nick Makoha fled Uganda because of the civil war during the Idi Amin dictatorship. He has lived in Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and currently resides in London. As a Spoke-Lab resident, he developed a one-man show and#8220;My Father and Other Superheroesand#8221; that reveals how pop culture raised him in the absence of his father. His poem "Vista" was used as part of a video installation to promote the Turner prize in 2008 (http://channel.tate.org.uk/media/29811526001). His poem and#8220;Beatitudeand#8221; is the newest addition to Being Human, the third book in the Staying Alive poetry trilogy. He represented Uganda in Poetry Parnassus as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Makoha was one of ten writers on a program called The Complete Works, a national two-year development program for ten advanced Black and Asian poets. During the program, he was mentored by eminent poet George Szirtes. The Complete Works culminated in September 2010 with the anthology Ten: New Poets from Spread the Word (Bloodaxe Press), edited by Bernardine Evaristo and Daljit Nagra.
and#160;Ladan Osman has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Michener Center for Writers. A 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Life in Poetry, Artful Dodge, Broadsided, Narrative Magazine, Prairie Schooner, RHINO, and Vinyl Poetry. She lives in Chicago.
Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet and writer based in London. Born in 1988, Shire has read her work extensively in Britain and internationally, including recent readings in South Africa, Italy, Germany, Canada, America, and Kenya. Her dand#233;but pamphlet, Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth (flipped eye), was published in 2011. Her poems have been published in Wasafiri, Magma, and Poetry Review and in the anthology The Salt Book of Younger Poets (Salt, 2011). In 2012 she represented Somalia at Poetry Parnassus, the festival of the world poets at the Southbank, London. Her poetry has been translated into Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
and#160;Len Verwey was born in Mozambique. He is thirty-nine years old and lives in Cape Town with his two daughters. He works as an economist for an African democracy organization.