24 April 2014

apr (usa) does poem in your pocket day... again!

This year's edition of the african poetry review's contribution to Poem in Your Pocket Day is Katharine Kilalea's "A perfect love" from her collection, One Eye'd Leigh (Carcanet, 2009).

To the left is a hi-res jpg version. You can also download & print a pdf version of the poem.

What are you supposed to do with such? Well, print it out and carry it around in your pocket. Come back to it throughout the day; read it to yourself, read it aloud; print a few extra copies and hand them out to friends, colleagues, those sitting next to you on the bus, and even those passing you along the street.

Why the hell not?

((For those on the continent, already thinking about wrapping up the day, it's a little late but there's still time; and a there's a whole evening ahead, na be so?))

I'll be handing copies out at the office, leaving them scattered about here and there, maybe even declaiming it... well... out my window? Hmmm... maybe. That's a big "maybe".

I have, though, already declaimed it once, in the privacy of my own home (I'm no fool). And recorded it (maybe I am):

So there it is. Share this around if you're so inclined or share around one of your own. What poem is in your pocket today?

22 November 2013

countdown to deadlines...

Two new African poetry prizes that were introduced last year are back again this year: the Brunel University African Poetry Prize and the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets from the African Poetry Book Fund. The former asks poets to submit 10 poems, "no more and no less" (can I tell you how much I appreciate the rigorousness of Evaristo's submission guidelines!!) while the latter are for those who have a manuscript of at least 50 pages.

Full details are available online (of course) and both only accept electronic submissions. And, as noted above, the deadlines are fast approaching...

Brunel University African Poetry Prize
Deadline: November 30, 2013
Complete submission guidelines here

Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets
Deadline: December 1, 2013
Complete submission guidelines here

Both awards are for poetry in English (though translations are accepted) and both are for poets who have not yet published a full length collection. And best of all? Unlike so many other publishing venues these days, there is no reading fee!!

So have at it. Not a lot of time left but if you're a working poet (and don't just play one on teh interwebz) I'd be willing to bet that you've got at least 10 poems lying about that you could work into a submission, if not a full length manuscript tucked away somewhere...

23 September 2013

Guest bloggers? Sure, we're happy to consider your suggestions!!

Think you have a unique take on poetry coming out of Africa: its production, consumption, distribution? Well, we want to hear from you!! Send a brief abstract to africanpoetryreview@gmail.com and... let's go from there!! You write, I'll edit, and we'll get some guest blog posts up.

Though it should hardly need to be said, we can't publish everything. Also, do send an abstract before sending a complete piece. But do send something if you've got an itch to contribute!!

18 April 2013

another year, another something for your pocket...

Poem In Your Pocket Day
PIYP Day is April 18, 2013
This year, as part of National Poetry Month (in the United States), April 18 has been declared Poem In Your Pocket Day -- and I thought... sure... why not... let's hop on the bandwagon.

And that's just what we're doing. So once again I combed through The Archives and have put together a little something that anyone can print out, fold up, and tuck in their pocket for the day.

This year we've got Gabriel Okara's poem, "Celestial Song" (jpg version here) from his collection The Fisherman's Invocation. With Okara's birthday fast approaching (92nd birthday by my reckoning; but was he born on the 21st or the 24th? sources disagree -- I'm going with the 21st) I thought it appropriate. It's not his best poem but it fit neatly on the page.

So here's the deal: print out a copy -- available as a jpg & pdf -- and stuff it in your pocket. That's it. If you wanted to you could pull it out on a street corner and read it aloud. Maybe print out a couple copies and hand them out to friends you meet during the day. Hand them out to strangers even; make them a friend (to poetry).

Or, if you'd rather, copy a poem that's particularly close to your heart, tuck it away, and carry (it) on.

If you think of it, let us know what poem you're carrying in your pocket today in the comments below. But most importantly, enjoy having it -- whatever poem you choose -- so close!!

Late addendum @ 9:20am -- a reading of Okara's "Celestial Song":

09 April 2013

apr (usa) poetry workshop

Update (12 November 2013): Though much discussed I only just finally got around to deleting the community referenced below; there simply wasn't enough interest. I still like the idea and I'd be more than happy to start something similar again if there were interested, engaged poets. Comment below is this is just the sort of thing you're looking for...

For awhile now we've been running the apr (usa) poetry workshop on the Google+ network. You need to have a Google account (don't most of us by now) and you need to be a member of the community to see the posts. But the bar for the latter is low: just ask!!

It is a closed group -- requiring interested folks to request membership -- so the discussion is open and free and poets can feel comfortable sharing works-in-progress and commentators can share candid, honest feedback.

Here's our mission statement:
The goal of the apr (usa) poetry workshop is to create an online community of poets from Africa committed to sharing both their poetry and their practice with each other. 
You do not need to be a published poet to join but we do expect you to share both your poetry and your honest thoughts and feedback on the poetry your colleagues share. 
There is no perfect poem, only the good enough. 
Thus, don't share a poem you don't expect to read a critique of; similarly, don't heap effusive, non-specific praise on a work because you can think of nothing better to say.
So far traffic has been light. As with so much else here on teh interwebz, this is just an experiment. If there's not sufficient interest... well... we'll just pack up and try something new. But...

If you're a working "African" poet looking to workshop your poems and hoping for some forthright feedback and not just plaudits and applause... join us!!

22 March 2013

brief review: "the lady missionary" by gail dendy

Kwela Books (2007)
Gail Dendy is, without a doubt, one of my favorite poets. Period. Her work is deeply affecting and both quietly powerful and often subtly surprising. And yet...

And yet I never fully warmed to her 2007 collection, The Lady Missionary.

I'm not convinced I know why but I have an idea. There are many, many personas in the collection -- as well as a light sprinkling of surrealism (or so it seems) -- and yet Dendy's voice is, to my ear, so distinctive that I could never fully embrace what the page presented to me.

Am I sure of that? No, not at all. And it's a collection that both will and deserves re-visiting. But in the moment, in the reading, I felt at least that I wanted something more. Or, arguably, something less of the Dendy I love and more of these others I was so... unsure of.

All that said, the best poems still sparkle and strike. Gently and deep. Among them are the title poem, "The Lady Missionary", and poems such as "Athlete" and "A Late Season". The two latter poems I have tried my hand at reading...

And even in doing so, I still hear her voice. Would rather hear her voice than mine. Which I'd still argue you'd do well to listen for in this collection.

You can also read a brief interview with Dendy on the collection's initial release here and read another brief review (with excerpts) of the collection here.

12 March 2013

since we couldn't seem to give away the t-shirts...

apr (usa) coffee mug for 2013
We're going to try to give away a few coffee mugs this year! That's right, coffee mugs. Who doesn't like coffee? The t-shirts I thought were lovely but I'm always looking to grow the empire so we're going to take on, and take in, your morning cup of joe.

Now, we're still waiting for the final product to ship so we've got nothing on hand to send out at the moment. Also note that this is a very limited run: we've got 10 coming and at least 1 is probably going to stay here in Madison. But...

If you'd like your own african poetry review (usa) coffee mug send me an email and tell me what you'd do for one!! Don't worry, I don't want money. I'm talking about... offering to send us a picture of you enjoying your first coffee from the mug... making a recording of you reading a favorite poem by an African poet and sending it on to us... or... well, you tell me!!

And, yes, that is a quote from the Nigerian poet, Niyi Osundare (whose birthday it happens to be today as well):
You arrived, red-eyed,
Your forehead a wrinkled roster
Of yester-week's unpaid debt
Your feet brown with spent days
In fact... first person who can identify the poem and the collection this is from will get a mug -- the first mug!! -- shipped to them. Anywhere you are. Ready. Set. Go!!

17 December 2012

the youtube channel is dead; long live the youtube channel!!

I preach the line that if something isn't working in social media you ought to be ready to bury it. And so I just buried the apr (usa) YouTube channel. I'd never really done any more on it than favorite existing videos; I hadn't done much on it for some time regardless (or even so much as looked at it); and it was tied to my personal Google+ account (which hardly makes much of a difference but I like to keep my corporate identities nice and tidy).

So I told Google to do the only seemly thing: make it go away. And it's gone.

But not forgotten. Nor do I intend to give up on YouTube; not quite yet, at least. But I'd like to make it something useful, interesting, and truly supportive of our work here, and in support of working African poets and their readers.

I do have a few ideas. The african poetry review (usa) Google+ page hasn't seen a lot of action to date but there are some intriguing possibilities through Google+'s integration with YouTube: in particular, using the Hangouts feature to offer virtual reading events for live streaming and sharing across platforms. There is, of course, the review and harvesting of existing videos -- perhaps with "value-added" commentary? -- and even the possibility of original production, though the latter is a bit beyond my capabilities at the moment (I can probably fake and/or learn the skills but I can't create the time I'd need for either).

And you? If we come storming back into YouTube what would you like to see us do there? Are there African poets whose work on YouTube you're following avidly? Are there readings or performances you think everyone must see? Let us know -- and we'll get started.