The American Nigerian poet Itiola Jones has joined the 20.25 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry collective as an editor. Jones, who recently made appearances at the Ake Arts and Book Festival and the Lagos International Poetry Festival, received the 2018 Brittle Paper Award for Poetry, teaches an online poetry workshop called The Singing Bullet, and currently co-edits the Young African Poets Anthology. Joining the collective also is the poet Precious Okpechi, former Custodian of The Writers Community (TWC) and biochemistry undergraduate at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, as an editorial assistant.
Launching in 2018, the 20.35 Africa poetry collective is pushing institutional boundaries in the African literary scene by advocating for “multiple conversations on the sensibilities of being African in a modern, global system.” Its first volume is guest-edited by Gbenga Adesina and Safia Elhillo, and its second by Yasmin Belkhyr and Kayo Chingonyi. Mukoma wa Ngugi has stated that the project “boldly marks a before and after moment in the African literary tradition.” The collective’s current editors are the Nigerian poets Ebenezer Agu and Gbenga Adeoba, and the visual artist Osinachi.
“We’re glad to have both Itiola Jones and Precious Okpechi join our team,” editor-in-chief Agu said. “Each brings to the work we do at 20.35 Africa a unique feel and specialized ease. Itiola’s unrivalled enthusiasm and patience with challenges makes her an excellent fit given where we currently are in the project. She is one of the most prominent contemporary African poets and has valuable editorial experience. Her extensive knowledge of the contemporary poetry scene is just what we needed.”
Okpechi, Agu said, is “a promising young poet whose growth has been evident since he started writing. We decided to bring him on the team after his term as Custodian of The Writers Community, a group of young creative writers on the UNN Campus. He is diligent and attentive and we are glad to have him work with us as an editorial assistant.”
Also a music journalist, Jones is a Graduate Fellow with The Watering Hole and holds fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT Writer’s Retreat, and Brooklyn Poets. She is Book Editor with Indolent Books and Editor at Voicemail Poems, and freelances for Complex, Earmilk, NBC News Think, Ambrosia for Heads, and elsewhere. An MFA candidate in Poetry at UW-Madison and recipient of the 2019-2020 Kemper K. Knapp University Fellowship, she splits her time between Southern California and New York.