A sister organization of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s literary journal Prarie Schooner has sent nearly 1,750 books and journals to five different poetry libraries in Africa.
Selected libraries located in Gambia, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda will each receive about 350 books as part of the second shipment from the African Poetry Library Initiative. The third shipment is expected to be shipped in the fall of 2016.
The initiative is a collaboration establishing small, user-friendly poetry reading libraries in Africa that support aspiring and established poets. These libraries provide access to contemporary poetry in books and journals and serve as a resource for poets interested in publication in Africa and around the world.
“This has provided a great opportunity for UNL libraries to become involved in libraries outside of Nebraska,” librarian Lorna Dawes said. “Many of our library faculty work internationally, and we are constantly looking for ways in which our resources and faculty can be of help to other libraries, nationally and internationally.”
The African Poetry Book Fund was established by UNL professor Kwame Dawes in 2011 and is managed by the Prarie Schooner staff — all employees of the English department or graduate student volunteers. Prairie Schooner is a literary journal that is published in cooperation with the University of Nebraska Press and the UNL English Department’s creative writing program.
In addition to the African Poetry Libraries project, the book fund publishes a series of books by African poets each run and runs a number of contests for African poets.
These libraries were launched in 2014 in partnership with UNL. The libraries were established within existing public libraries in Gambia, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda’s cultural centers, writers’ centers or other arts centers that are accessible to the public. They are staffed by volunteers and are an effort to bring the community together.
This initiative is guided by APBF and UNL. They bring together US and UK publishers of poetry, literary arts organizations, poets, libraries and literary journals in collaboration with African libraries, writers’ co-ops or cultural centers and poets.
The APBF is co-sponsored by more than 30 literary presses, organizations and individuals that donated poetry books and journals to the libraries.
The APBF promotes and assists the development and publication of poetry in Africa through its book series, contests, workshops and seminars, and through its collaborations with publishers, festivals, booking agents, colleges, universities, conferences and all other organizations that share an interest in the poetic arts of Africa.
Students interested in getting more involved with APBF are encouraged to apply for internships with Prairie Schooner, through the English Department.