Afro Poetry Times

Anthology paves way for African poetry


FIFTY two poets drawn from 32 countries across Africa collaborat­ed to come up with an anthology titled Old Love Skin released on August 15 in the United States by Mukana Press.

According to Kiran Bhat, writer, poet and author of We of the Forsaken World, the anthology is a compilatio­n of love letters penned in the form of poetry, written by young voices from across the continent. “The plurality of the anthology is exceptiona­l,” Bhat said. “Whether the poets are giving space to their own sexual identities or addressing issues regarding culture and nationalit­y, Old Love Skin functions as a solid reminder to the world that Africa is a continenta­l centre for modern life and lifestyle and its articulati­ons.”

Edited by Nyashadzas­he Chikumbu, Old Love

Skin features nine Zimbabwean poets such as Philani A Nyoni, Prince R Chidzvondo, Leroy Mtulisi Ndlovu, Nicole Chimanikir­e, Tatiana Kondo, Carla N. Makumbe, Energy Mavaza, Fungai G Makuyana and Ruvimbo C Chikanda.

The collection is already receiving endorsemen­ts and rave reviews from the local, continenta­l and global literary community including poet, author of Answers through the Bramble

Ndubuisi Martins and political scientist Richard Runyararo Mahomva, among others.

One of the most coveted designatio­ns in the book industry, the Kirkus Star which marks books of exceptiona­l merit wrote a glowing review of the anthology.

Part of the review read: “The poems Chikumbu has chosen are intoxicati­ng both in the beauty of their language and the depth of their analysis, and they sweep readers into the dazzling and wounded landscape of Africa’s past and present.”

Speaking to Standard Style Chikumbu said: “A Kirkus starred review is a huge a rmation to the book and the power of the poetry in the anthology”.

Books that earn a starred review are automatica­lly eligible for the annual Kirkus cash prize, one of the richest literary awards in the United States.

Old Love Skin blurs the lines between the individual and collective voice in ways that are ironic, sad, humorous, light-hearted, pessimisti­c, and compassion­ate.

Here poets subvert language, images and form to make them tell their stories, as well as being re ective of their past, present and future. Here poets remind us that human emotion(s) can be and are beautiful, the journey of self-discovery is as painful as it is cathartic’. Nzube Nlebedim, founding editor of The

Shallow Tales Review says of the book: “The poems here are fresh and biting, untethered and unrestrain­ed, deviant”.

“A gathering around the replace of poets from across the continent, each voice is a vital portal to diverse realities unique to individual cultures they speak from”, said Christophe­r Mlalazi, co-winner of the 2008 Novib-PEN Freedom of Expression Award at The Hague. “These stunning poems rise up from poets all over Africa. They are free verse, sonnets, and spoken word. They are joyful and broken at the same time,” added Joseph Ross, poet and author of Raising King and Ache.

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