Storymoja 2014

by Brita Thielen

African Poetry Book Fund will have a strong presence at this year’s Storymoja Festival at the Nairobi National Museum in Nairobi City, Kenya. Editorial Board members Kwame Dawes and Matthew Shenoda are joined by African Poetry Book Series writers Clifton Gachagua, Liyou Libsekal, Vuyelwa Maluleke, and Ladan Osman, along with scores of other writers, thinkers, and performers. The festival will run from September 17 – 21, with a variety of classes, exhibits, and musical and theatrical performances taking place each day.
“StoryMoja is one of the more exciting literary and cultural festivals in the world,” Dawes said. “And it is especially exciting because of the occasion it offers for African writers to get together to share their work and to meet with each other.”
Working to empower Kenya’s literary culture by promoting reading through a variety of initiatives celebrating readers, writers, and thinkers, Storymoja brings together more than five thousand people from Kenya and around the world each September for a series of discussions, interviews, workshops, debates, and competitions. Dawes, asked to curate some poetry appearances, assembled a collection including past and future African Poetry Book Fund alumni. Presenters include Matthew Shenoda, a member of the APBF editorial board, along with Clifton Gachagua and Ladan Osman, winners of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. Poets Liyou Libsekal and Vuyelwa Maluleke, whose chapbooks are included in Eight New Generation African Poets will also present at the festival.

KWAME DAWES

APBF Editor, Prairie Schooner Editor in Chief, and poet Kwame Dawes’ recent poetry publications include Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon, 2013), Wheels (2011), and Back of Mount Peace (2009). Dawes will host “Poetry with Music” on Thursday, September 18 and Friday, September 19 from 11:00 to 11:45 AM, as well as the Storymoja master class “The Blockbuster – The Perfect Antidote to Writer’s Block” in conjunction with Phyllis Muthoni on September 19 from 2:00 – 5:00 PM. Finally, hear Dawes again during the “Poetic Heavyweights” reading and discussion on Sunday, September 21 from 5:00 – 6:30 PM. Dawes will also give the inaugural Kofi Awooner Memorial Lecture in memory of the poet Kofi Awooner, Dawes’s own uncle and friend, who was killed during a terrorist attack during last year’s Storymoja. The memorial address will be held on September 21 from 3:00 – 4:30 PM.

MATTHEW SHENODA

APBF Editor, poet, and educator Matthew Shenoda is the 2006 winner of the American Book Award for his collection Somewhere Else. His newest publication, Tahrir Suite, is forthcoming from TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press. Join Shenoda for the Storymoja master class “Poetry Doctors” with Osman Ladan and Keguro Macharia on Thursday, September 18 from 3:00 – 6:00 PM. Shenoda will also participate in the “Imagine the World with International Poets” panel on September 18 from 12:00 – 1:00 PM, the “Poetic Pressure” on Sunday, September 21 from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM, and the “Poetic Heavyweights” reading and discussion on Sunday, September 21 from 5:00 – 6:30 PM.

CLIFTON GACHAGUA

Poet and writer Clifton Gachagua’s collection Madman at Kilifi (University of Nebraska Press) won APBF’s Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry. His chapbook The Cartographer of Water was also published as part of APBF’s Seven New Generation African Poets series in 2014. Hear Gachagua during the “Imagine the World with Award-Winning Poets” panel on Wednesday, September 17 from 9:30 – 10:45 AM and again during the Poetry Readings and Discussion hosted by APBF on Sunday, September 21 from 1:00 – 2:00 PM. Gachagua will also be recognized during the “Africa 39” event, which celebrates some of the best south-of-the-Sahara writers under the age of 40, on Saturday, September 20 from 1:00 – 2:30 PM.

LIYOU LIBSEKAL

Poet Liyou Libsekal, whose chapbook is forthcoming in Eight New Generation African Poets, is the 2014 winner of the Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Join her for a Storymoja master class “Grounding Your Work in Reality (Poetry)” with Duduzile Mabaso and Sitawa Namwalie, on Wednesday, September 17 from 2:30 – 5:30 PM. Hear Libsekal present again during the “Imagine the World with Award-Winning Poets” panel on September 17 from 11:00 – 11:45 AM and again from 12:00 – 1:00 PM. Libsekal will also be part of the “Call/Response: Poets from Around the World Provoke Each Other” event on Saturday, September 20 from 5:00 – 6:30 PM, as well as the Poetry Readings and Discussion hosted by APBF on Sunday, September 21 from 1:00 – 2:00 PM.

VUYELWA MALULEKE

Poet and performer Vuyelwa Maluleke, whose chapbook is also forthcoming in Eight New Generation African Poets, is the 2013 winner of the Leon Gluckman Prize for the student with the most promising piece of work, awarded by the University of Witwatersrand. Maluleke will participate in the “Imagine the World with Award-Winning Poets” panel on Wednesday, September 17 from 9:30 – 10:45 AM and the “Imagine the World with Authors who Perform” panel on Thursday, September 18 from 11:00 to 11:45 AM. She will also host the Storymoja master class “Who are we Telling our Stories to?” with Njeri Wangari and Kennet B on September 17 from 2:30 to 5:30 PM and will speak during the “Poetic Pressure” panel on Sunday, September 21 from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM.

LADAN OSMAN

Poet and writer Ladan Osman’s The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony, forthcoming from University of Nebraska Press, is the winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry. Her chapbook Ordinary Heaven appears in Seven New Generation African Poets. Osman will host the Storymoja master class “Poetry Doctors” with Matthew Shenoda and Keguro Macharia on Thursday, September 18 from 3:00 – 6:00 PM. Osman will also participate in the “Imagine the World with International Poets” panel on September 18 from 12:00 – 1:00 PM, the “Call/Response: Poets from Around the World Provoke Each Other” event on Saturday, September 20 from 5:00 – 6:30 PM, and the Poetry Readings and Discussion hosted by APBF on Sunday, September 21 from 1:00 – 2:00 PM.

 

For more information on Storymoja Festival events and tickets, please visit http://storymojafestival.com/calendar/.

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