African poetry

A quiver of chapbooks

A review of 'New-Generation African Poets'

This chapbook box set is the third in an annual series, first published in 2014 by Slapering Hol Press and taken on by Akashic Books as of 2015. The box sets are a project of the African Book Poetry Fund, which also supports an impressive constellation of poetry prizes, poetry libraries in African cities, and book publishing — full-length collections by new poets, as well as collected or new and selected works by such major African poets as Ama Ata Aidoo, the late Kofi Awoonor, and Gabriel Okara. Having titled the first two sets Seven New Generation African Poets and Eight New-Generation African Poets, coeditors Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani were forced by the fact that this third iteration also features eight poets to settle the issue of naming. As Dawes puts it, “By tagging on to our new title the word tatu, a Swahili word denoting the number three, we are codifying our faith and confidence that this is truly a series.”[1] Indeed, the most recent set — Nne or four — was released this past April with ten more chapbooks, although they will have to await a future review. Each chapbook in the Tatu set bears a preface by an established poet, and each bears cover art by Victor Ehikhamenor, a Nigerian artist and writer who is currently exhibiting at the Venice Biennale and is increasingly in demand as a cover artist. While the box set is thus a quiver of gorgeous physical objects, the poetry itself is just as arresting as Ehikhamenor’s designs.

This chapbook box set is the third in an annual series, first published in 2014 by Slapering Hol Press and taken on by Akashic Books as of 2015. The box sets are a project of the African Book Poetry Fund, which also supports an impressive constellation of poetry prizes, poetry libraries in African cities, and book publishing — full-length collections by new poets, as well as collected or new and selected works by such major African poets as Ama Ata Aidoo, the late Kofi Awoonor, and Gabriel Okara.

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