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Chris Abani.

The 2017 Lagos International Poetry Festival is around the corner. The event, themed “Bridges From Walls,” will bring together 30 poets, writers and artists from around the world, in a feast of conversations, performances, and parties, from 1-5 November. Among this year’s star guests are Chris Abani and rising South African poet Koleka Putuma.

Founded in 2015 by the performance poet Efe Paul Azino, author of For Broken Men Who Cross Often, this year’s festival will be held at Freedom Park, Lagos, and will feature three evenings of performances, nine panels, six workshops, one party, and an adventure to Badagary. Speaking on what to expect this year, Efe Paul Azino said:

It’s going to be very exciting. We have a diverse guest list with poets from North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and across Africa. This year’s theme, “Bridges From Walls,” explores arts capacity to unite us around our common humanity and we have put together a series of events that express the universal desire for love, joy and the fulfilment that comes from engaging our talents.

Koleka Putuma.

Professor of English at Northwestern University, Chris Abani is the author of the novels: Masters of the Board (1985),  GraceLand (2004), Becoming Abigail (2006), The Virgin of Flames (2007), Song For Night (2007), and The Secret History of Las Vegas (2014); and of the poetry collections: Kalakuta Republic (2001), Daphne’s Lot (2003), Dog Woman (2004), Hands Washing Water (2006), Feed Me The Sun – Collected Long Poems (2010), There Are No Names for Red (2010), and Sanctificum (2010). He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize, and a Guggenheim Award.

Winner of the 2016 PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize, Koleka Putuma’s latest work is the fast-selling poetry collection Collective Amnesia. She is currently on the shortlist of the Brittle Paper Award for Poetry, for her poem “Water.”

Efe Paul Azino is the founder of the Lagos International Poetry Festival.

Some of the juiciest events at the festival include: “Poetry Masterclass with Chris Abani,” “Jollof Verses and Palmwine Music,” “Poetry After Dark: Poems Apostle Must Not Hear,” and “Collective Amnesia: An Evening with Koleka Putuma and Sabrina Mafouz,”  amid multiple panel discussions.

The Lagos International Poetry Festival is sponsored by Nigerian Breweries.

Visit www.lagospoetryfestival.com for the full program and other details.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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