Old Love Skin: Voices From Contemporary Africa

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Pub Date Sep 05 2022 | Archive Date Jan 15 2023


A Kirkus Starred Book.

This highly imaginative and inventive collection of poems by fifty-two African poets writing from thirty countries across the continent, offers powerful poems that do not flinch from exploring experiences, hopes, aspirations that are deeply personal yet collective, the collection blurs the lines between the individual and collective voice in ways that are ironic, sad, humorous, light hearted, pessimistic, compassionate. Here poets subvert language, images and form to make them tell their stories, as well as being reflective 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.

A Kirkus Starred Book.

This highly imaginative and inventive collection of poems by fifty-two African poets writing from thirty countries across the continent, offers powerful poems that do not flinch...

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ISBN 9780578397153
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Featured Reviews

What an exceptional compilation of poems featuring a diverse representation of voices. There is no sugar-coating here. The poems are stark, uncontrived representations of life in Africa, as experienced through the eyes of each poet. Beautiful, often dark, and profoundly moving. There is humanity and wisdom in these words.

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This novel is a compilation of many different poets from Africa recounting from experience or word of life in Africa and the struggles of being a woman in Africa. It was raw when it needed to be and gratifying when it could have been harsh.

Nothing in this novel was sugarcoated or subtle, but it was still blindly giving you the impression that it could have translated in more than one way. I think that's the main point of poetry, writing something that appears to have an effect on everyone, but in many different ways that they take to the heart or to their home.

These poets did that. And I thank them for their educating words and vulnerability.

Thank you to Net Galley and Mukana Press for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my honest review and thoughts.

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The poems in this poetry anthology were written by several African poets. The poems were heartfelt and profound. There was no concealment; it was a straightforward depiction of the difficulties of living in Africa.

I personally enjoy how a single poem can mean many different things to various readers. That is how it felt without a doubt. The poems were very powerful, and I could apply them to various aspects of my life.

Thank you to net galley and Makana Press for providing me with a copy of ‘Old Love Skin’ in exchange for an honest review.

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Reading this collection is an education. With over 50 poets contributing to the work this is an overreaching exploration into female African voices. An amazing read

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This was a phenomenal way to discover poets I'd never heard of! And the net is super wide. Another Dirge to Fill the Space Left Behind is a new forever favorite.

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As it is with all compilations, there are some poets that you like, and some that are just not what you've looked for. That's why I usually hesitate to pick up collections, and not one authors' works. I think that the vast majority of poems in this particular compilation are beautiful, lyrical, poignant and overall well done (in terms of structure, rhythm, usage of stylistic devices and emotiveness). I can pinpoint some outstanding pieces, like:

Rubzi (Ruvimbo Chido Chikanda)/ Poems: Hey Mr. Paradox, Power Lenses, Bipolar Bladder

I think these particular pieces should be studied at universities. There are several beautiful metaphors, alliterations and flowing repetitions, nicely done antitheses, and allusions on contemporary art and culture (f.e. 'our love is a sequel of Bird Box, blind and finding its way down the riverside'). Somehow it's reminded me of the song by Agnes Obel - Riverside (highly recommend to listen to it to get the vibe).

Alvin Kathemb / Poems: 'First and Forever', 'contigencies'

Immaculate. This is the type of poetry that breathes, that when you read it you actually feel those emotions described to you.

Phodiso Mordiwa/ Poem: Another Dirge To Fill The Space Left Behind

Vivid picture of grief, as well as some emotional images, which are depicted through ordinary objects, and suddenly they become extraordinary (tell me how you do that!)

Bryan Obinna Joseph Okwesili/ Poem: My Prayers Don't Promise Me Heaven

Oh, that was heartbreaking. Absolutely and inevitably heartbreaking.

Timothy Fab-Eme / Poems: Ecocide In The Wake Of Discovery And Dreams, We're Sick Now and Earth's Healing Real Fast Spring

Two more pieces that should be studied (imho, of course). The line 'the hope twirls in his hands until it strains like a thunderbolt' - isn't it one of the best examples of simile and metaphor in one sentence? In general, these are the poems that bring up questions in your head and make you think, really like that.

Nebeolisa Okwudili/ Poems: Beggars, A Myth in Two Parts

These pieces might have impressed me the most. Painful, yet meaningful.

Nehemiah Omukhonya/ Poems: Shall We Live!, Shame

I try not to repeat myself, but that was absolutely beautiful! Those apple-tree metaphors that describe relationships are one huge chef's kiss!

Aisha Naise Ahmad/ Poems: You're My Catalyst, Unforgettable Human

One of the best mixes between rhythmic repetitions and alliterations, along with a deep meaning behind it. Reading these was a pure treat.

Jeresi Katusiime/ Poem: For The Child Who Was Never Made

Powerful. Heartbreaking. Thought provoking.

Nnane Ntube/ Poem: Magical Pen

A note of appreciation for an experiment with structure here, that was unusual!

As I've said at the beginning, the worst thing in compilations, is that you might not necessarily like all of the pieces represented in it. I am not a fan of writers heavily describing bodily fluids (urination, defecation, vomit), as well as overly graphical violence, that almost always makes me uncomfortable. Although, I do appreciate authors using those as a mean of providing a visual and punch-y effect, it's just not my something I enjoy reading about.

Overall, this is a very wholesome collection that covers almost everything we know about. It talks about exploration of human relationship and existence, religion, race, sexuality, love, ecology and a bunch of other important topics. It might seem that it's too much, but somehow the book is compiled in such a way that it doesn't feel too much.

I would also like to say thank you to the editor Nyashadzashe Chikumbu, because the amount of work that has been put into this poetry collection is immeasurable.

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This collection of poems by fifty-two African poets from thirty countries offers extremely raw poems that do not flinch from exploring experiences, hopes, and aspirations that are deeply personal yet shared. In this anthology, the poets subvert language, images, and form to allow their stories to come to life.

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.

TW: Mentions of Addiction, Alcoholism, Abuse, Body Shaming, Grief, Violence, and war

This year I have been trying to read more poetry and understand the artform better. I would hear people get so emotional over poems and not understand why they had that reaction. Well, now I do.

There were poems in here that brought tears to my eyes, ones that broadened my understanding of the human spirit, and ones that I connected with so much that I just had to pause and reflect. This has never been the case with me before with poetry and I loved that it has happened.

Old Love Skin is a wonderful compilation of poems featuring a diverse representation of voices from all around Africa. There were so many different voices, writing styles and topics each one of the poets chose to write about giving you a wide variety of options to choose from and connect with. With the variety, there were some that I did not love, but enough caused me to have such a reaction that I had to give this anthology 5 stars.

Final Thoughts: I have found some incredible new poets from this anthology, my favorite was Enough by Tatiana Natalie Kondo (banshee). This was a wonderful collection that I think anyone who is on the fence about poetry would enjoy and find something to connect with.

Disclaimer: Thank you Netgalley and Mukana Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I had a great time with Old love skin. Written beautifully, with a cohesive line and never being repetitive, i found myself represented and lost many times between the words of these amazing poets.

The authors tell us their experience growing up on Africa in the most real way. Giving space in the pages for many issues that people face in their lives.

Reading it I connected with some poems more than with others, as it happens for me with anthologies. However, I could recognise why the writing was there and for who was it, simply, it was not me. I found my favourite poem of all time in this anthology: Contingencies. Powerfully written and devastating at the same time.

Thanks NetGalley and Mukana Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This book is a collection of poems by several African poets who describe life in Africa and the difficulties faced by women there. When it was necessary to be raw, it was, and when it could have been unpleasant, it was gratifying.

The lack of subtlety or sugarcoating in this book gave you the idea that it might have been translated in a number of different ways despite the fact that nothing was subtle or sugarcoated. I believe that writing poetry's primary goal is to evoke an emotional response in readers that they may take home or to their hearts in a variety of unique ways.

These poets carried it out. And I appreciate their openness and enlightening thoughts.

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If I were to describe the feeling when I read this, it would be like drinking a pomegranate wine with the color of crimson, so dark it could easily pass as black. While drinking the wine, I savored the smooth ascent and descent of the roller coaster;y ears were deafened to the harsh slap of the wind against my face. Above, there revealed a starry night sky freckled with stars, lending their light to the vastness of the universe.

This poetry book would make you question things, realize something, and ruminate on certain things. The voices that were portrayed in this book were amplified to a higher volume it felt like it could break a glass. These voices belonged to the African-American community which was treated as if they were inferior to others.

An excerpt from the book:

"So I am easy on myself
and gentle, so gentle.
The words I say to me
always have a smile behind them;
a sprinkle of love and a little bit of awe.
I am careful to be gentle, and patient, and always
unfailingly kind
to me -
my precious, my priceless,
my first and forever love."

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This was a great read. All of the voices were inspiring. I highly recommend reading this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and once I started, I could not put it down.

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