African Poets’ Sampler:
Slapering Hol Press’s Seven New Generation African Poets, a box set of eight chapbooks edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani as part of the Poetry Foundations Poets in the World Series, seeks to extend the readership of contemporary Anglophone African poets working on the continent and abroad.
Little international poetry is published in the United States, and much of what does reach an American audience appears in anthologies compiled by established American poets, rather than by editors native to the countries represented. Dawes, who is from Ghana and went to college in Jamaica, and Abani, who is from Nigeria, feel that it is part of their poetic missions to bring African poetry to the English-speaking world.
They hope this inaugural collection will add contemporary voices to the canon of African poetry in the tradition of Chinua Achebe’s “African Writers Series,” founded in 1962, as a response to the colonial bias in teaching literature in African universities. In collaboration with different small poetry presses each year, The African Poetry Book Fund will continue to produce new box sets for American and African audiences, donating dozens to libraries and schools throughout the continent.
Dawes emphasizes that as difficult as it is to publish international poetry in America, similar opportunities are rare in Africa. The poets represented in this collection are all grass-roots activists who travel internationally giving readings and selling their books. This collection is only a sample of poetry of the African continent and its diaspora, but it serves as an introduction to the rich and textured work of contemporary African poetry by Africans throughout the world.
—Jennifer Franklin, Co-Editor Slapering Hol Press
To see the African Poets’ Sampler go to the Boston Review