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Two APBF alums--Saddiq Dzukogi and Romeo Oriogun--are on the long-list for the Nigeria Prize for Literature. Dzukogi's Your Crib, My Qibla (APBF 2021) and Oriogun's Nomad (Griots 2021) are in the running. (Image/APBF via Facebook)
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 18 July 2022

LINCOLN, Neb. PRNewswire/ -- The Poetry Foundation has awarded a $343,750 grant to the African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) for a research study of African poetry book distribution. 

Established in 2012 by Kwame Dawes, George W. Holmes Distinguished Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, the APBF operates from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln through an international complex of additional collaborations and partnerships. First supported by the generosity of Laura and Robert F.X. Sillerman, the APBF since has been awarded grants from the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Academy of American Poets.    

The Poetry Foundation granted the African Poetry Book Fund $343,750 to study poetry book distribution in Africa. 

Kwame Dawes says, "APBF's core goal is to find ways to advance African poetry in the world, and one of the critical ways to do so effectively is to appreciate the complex and multifaceted ways in which poetry and the publishing of poetry takes place. Central to the state of poetry in the world is the business of book distribution, and this is particularly critical in a continent like Africa, made up of so many different nation states with quite distinctive trade, distribution and tariff laws, and just as many approaches to book distribution and sale, especially when it comes to poetry. If all that we are able to do is come to have a more informed understanding of the state of poetry book distribution in Africa, we would have made a significant inroad into the work of advancing poetry on the continent. We expect to do more than this, and we are grateful for the insight and sophistication that is demonstrated by the Poetry Foundation in recognizing the critical need that will be addressed by the grant." 

The APBF promotes and advances the development and publication of the poetic arts through its book series, contests, workshops, and seminars and through its collaborations with publishers, festivals, booking agents, colleges, universities, conferences and all other entities that share an interest in African poetry. For 10 years now, APBF's visionary projects have included poetry prizes, book publishing, digital humanities research, establishing local poetry libraries and much more. 

From its inception, the APBF has been committed to developing a robust publishing agenda in the United States, and secondarily, to ensuring that the work they publish is accessible to readers throughout Africa. APBF's publications include the New-Generation African Poets Chapbooks Boxset Series, produced in collaboration with Akashic Books, and full-length poetry books and anthologies under the African Poetry Book Series, published in collaboration with the University of Nebraska Press. 

The African Poetry Book Distribution Project seeks to better understand the state of poetry book distribution in the African continent. Ultimately, this project will help the APBF define its role in building and sustaining long-term partnerships with existing African publishers and book distributors and ensure the availability of its titles internationally. 

The three-year grant, to begin in 2022, will fund a team of researchers led by Dawes. The implementation of a sound distribution strategy based on existing bookseller networks, international trade and tariff laws and literary venues and programming will expand the availability of APBF's titles in the continent, thus serving  APBF authors and African readers alike. 

The Poetry Foundation  is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. It seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, visit PoetryFoundation.org

This is not APBF's nor Kwame Dawes' first collaboration with the Poetry Foundation. Beyond publishing poems in Poetry, Dawes was a regular contributor to Harriet, having written more than 120 articles on the Poetry Foundation's blog. Moreover, the first New Generation African Poets Chapbooks Boxset was published by APBF and Slapering Hol Press in association with the Poetry Foundation's Poets in the World Series. 

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