This is my final post in the inaugural commentary series on African Poetry. I’ve barely scratched the surface, and I have new respect for the many wonderful blogs on African expressive culture, and particularly writing, that have flourished in the last few years. The rhythm of my posts has been syncopated, and in signing off, I’d like to point to a few sites that update more regularly, and to some exciting projects coming soon. Africa in Words is one of the most exciting literary digests for African writing.
This is my final post in the inaugural commentary series on African Poetry. I’ve barely scratched the surface, and I have new respect for the many wonderful blogs on African expressive culture, and particularly writing, that have flourished in the last few years. The rhythm of my posts has been syncopated, and in signing off, I’d like to point to a few sites that update more regularly, and to some exciting projects coming soon.
Last November they published Tom Penfold’s review of Metelerkamp’s eigth collection, Now the World Takes These Breaths, for which she was shortlisted for the Glenna Luschei prize. Penfold sees Metelerkamp as part of a group of South African writers he calls “The Poets of No Sure Place because of the apprehensive and unstable nature of their work. A diverse group, which includes poets as varied as Lesego Rampolokeng, Seitlhamo Motsapi, Angifi Dladla and Mxolisi Nyezwa, they are united in combining the public with the private; juxtaposing the regional, national and international; and in cathartically probing the often controversial nature of South African society.”
This week to follow up on my post about Kobus Moolman, winner of the Glenna Luschei prize, I’m sharing some fine posts about Moolman’s fellow finalists, Joan Metelerkamp and Togara Muzanenhamo, and about contemporary African writing more broadly.
This year’s winner of the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry was recently announced. Kobus Moolman of South Africa was awarded the prize for his collection A Book of Rooms(published by Deep South). Reviewing the collection last year for Sabotage Review, Afric McGlinchey praised Moolman as “one of the rawest and most honest poets I have ever come across – not even Sharon Olds comes close. Building on the insights of his last collection, Left Over, where Kobus Moolman found a dramatic way to write about his physicality, this haunting collection brings home, forcibly, the sense that, as well as the room of our body, we live in the rooms of our memories, and it is from these rooms that we experience our life.”
A recent issue of the pan-African literary magazine Chimurenga reminded us that "The Sahara is Not a Boundary." The 4th volume of the Poems for the Millennium project, on North African poetry, is one marvelous collection of work. This week the African poetry commentary series roars back to life with a wonderful guest post by scholar and translator Brahim El Guabli introducing one of Tunisia's most daring poets, Mohamed Saghir Ouled Ahmed. If Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour have whetted your appetite, here's a chance to discover another voice from the Maghreb.
Poetics of Sedition in the Maghreb: Mohamed Sghir Ouled Ahmed
Mohamed Saghir Ouled Ahmed (b. 1955) is probably Tunisia's most prominent Arabic poet today. His birth in the southern city of Sidi Bouzid, which was the breeding ground of the December 2010 Tunisian Revolution, further consecrated his status as Tunisia's contemporary, “conscience of the nation.” During his long career, which he began at the age of fourteen, Ouled Ahmed produced at least five collections of poetry: The Rhapsody of the Six Days (1988), But I Am Ahmad (1989), I Have No Problem (1989), The South of the Water (1991) and The Will (2000).
Are you an African poet in search of places to publish your work? Here's a set of resources to add to (please post other suggestions in the comments!)
This week’s post is addressed more to African poets and those who work with them than to readers and would-be readers of African poetry. The vast majority of publishing venues and critical studies of African literature focus on fiction, and between major awards like the Caine Prize for short stories, journals like Granta, and publishing houses like Becky Ayebia Clarke placing African fiction is not as challenging as placing poetry. So where can emerging and established poets submit their work?