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The Nigerian queer art collective 14, which is set to release its second volume this week, has shared its cover, featuring snippets from Taiye Selasi and 2016 Brunel Prize winner Gbenga Adesina. The cover image is by the South African photographer Mal Muga, with the design by the Nigeria visual artist Osinachi, whose work we’ve published in the Art Naija Series. Both artists are contributors to the anthology.

In her snippet, Selasi writes:

Can you imagine the day, for which I long, when you can walk unmasked among us? Your truth our truth. Your hurt our wound.

In his, Gbenga Adesina writes:

Our society, societies everywhere, say love is love but within a certain social sanction. I say love is love.

An intensely secretive group whose editors use pseudonyms, 14 took its name from the 14-year jail term prescribed by Nigeria’s same-sex marriage prohibition law, and releases an anthology of writing and visual art—published by Brittle Paper—to commemorate that act of oppression. In January 2017, they released their Volume 1, themed We Are Flowers, a project met with astounding reception. An essay from the anthology was shortlisted for the Brittle Paper Anniversary Award. This Volume 2, themed The Inward Gaze, collects works by a host of exciting, familiar names on the literary scene, all of which appear on the cover in what is a break from the Collective’s tradition of secrecy.

Among the contributors are the novelist and activist Unoma Azuah, writing professor at Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago and editor of Blessed Body: The Secret Lives of Nigerian Gay, Lesian, Bisexual and Transgender (2016), the first anthology documenting queer Nigerians, and Mounting the Moon (2017), Nigeria’s first poetry anthology about queerness. There is also Chike Frankie Edozien, journalism professor at New York University and author of Lives of Great Men (2017), Nigeria’s first memoir to focus on gay men. And there are: Arinze Ifeakandu, finalist for the 2017 Caine Prize and the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Fiction; Kiprop Kimutai, finalist for the 2017 Miles Morland Scholarship and the 2018 Gerald Kraak Award; Karen Jennings, 2013 Etisalat Prize-shortlisted author of Finding Soutbek (2012); Troy Onyango, a founding editor of Enkare Review and finalist for the 2016 Miles Morland Scholarship and the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction; the poets Chisom Okafor and Ebenezer Agu, both of whom we have published; and Brittle Paper deputy editor Otosirieze Obi-Young, finalist for the 2016 Miles Morland Scholarship and 2017 Gerald Kraak Award.

If this cover is anything to go by—and it is!—then this anthology will be everything.

We can’t wait.

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OTOSIRIEZE is a writer, literary journalist, former academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. A judge for the 2019 Gerald Kraak Award, he is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective which has published two volumes: WE ARE FLOWERS and THE INWARD GAZE. He is the curator of ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness: ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016) focuses on cities in Nigeria; WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017) focuses on professions in Nigeria. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition, and has been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and the Gerald Kraak Award, both in 2016, and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, the boy just Googles Rihanna. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts editing and writing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze.

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