The limited-edition box set is an annual project started in 2014 to ensure the publication of up to a dozen chapbooks by African poets through Akashic Books. The series seeks to identify the best poetry written by African poets working today, and it is especially interested in featuring poets who have not yet published their first full-length book of poetry. This box set features art by Aida Muluneh and contains the following chapbooks: Fragments in a Closet by Daisy Odey, From the Zabala’s Cart by Dina El Dessouky, Here Is Water by ‘Gbenga Adeoba, In Half Light by Dalia Elhassan, The Internal Saboteur by Musawenkosi Khanyile, Noon by Nour Kamel, Preface for Leaving Homeland by Salawu Olajide, Prodigal Daughter by Hiwot Adilow, Undressing under the Noon Sun by Charity Hutete, and You Too Will Know Me by Ama Asantewa Diaka.
I am interested in the ways that the traditions of the past are being challenged and ignored and the ways that they are engaged by a sense that someone may have dropped the ball in the business of passing on a legacy of the poetic arts from one generation to the next. If, indeed, the contemporary society is wrestling between traditional culture and a new modernity, then what we desire are poets with the sensitivity, intelligence, boldness, and capacity for vulnerability to write within that moment. If, indeed, something is being lost, the poetry should enact that loss. If, as is clear, the work of the emerging poets is critiquing the past and the present as well, is engaging in hip-hop but is also fascinated by the outsider discourses of marginality that characterize much of the poetry emerging in America and the UK, especially among poets of color, then it is a good thing to see that manifest in the work. I do think that the alarm over a loss of authenticity is not unfounded, but it is misplaced. The presumption is that the authentic looks a certain way and does a certain thing.Kwame Dawes, from the introduction