Very few literary magazines get me excited when they arrive in the mail. As has probably become more than evident to those reading my blog posts the past six weeks, I’m seeking something decidedly different than many USAmerican poetry journals regularly provide when I crack the spine of that pefect-bound or saddle-stitched or stapled paper object that is newly disembarking from its postal envelope.
Enter Chimurenga, whose new double-issue (no 12/13) arrived in my mailbox from Cape Town, South Africa, a few days ago. Transnationally poetic? Check. Innovatively interdisciplinary? Check. Designed by the gods? Check. Unafraid to simultaneously articulate the aesthetic, the political, the cultural, and the economic? Check(mate).

Dubbed “Dr. Satan’s Echo Chamber” (after a mix by King Tubby) the new Chimurenga proffers an astounding array of meta-disciplinary works that address sci-fi, technologies, and speculative writings from the African world. Imagine a Miriam Makeba version of Samuel Delaney's Babel 17 or the Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd production of Renee Gladman’s The Activist. Really.
In addition to subscribing to the journal (and getting your local public and school libraries to, as well), readers are urged to locate time slots in their Blackberry calendars for some deep web-time with the Chimurenga Library, a dazzling digital-archival taproot for both historic and new independent Pan African publishing. Journals archived at the site—each of which includes a sample cover, a detailed publishing history, a “family tree” (literary genealogy), and “re/sources” (many with web links)—include African Film (Nigeria), Ecrans d'Afrique (Burkina Faso), Staffrider and Hei Voetsek! (loosely translated as Hey! Get lost!, South Africa), Lamalif (Morocco), Moto (Zimbabwe), Okyeame (Ghana), Savacou (co-founded in Barbados by Kamau Brathwaite), and many others. The site additionally includes extensive sections on Pan African radio and film (including innovative cinepoetry like Priya Sen’s “Something Barely Remembered”), essays on African politics, and so very, very much more.
Check (Click SUBSCRIBE on the right menu bar)
It (Fela’s version)
Out (Rupie Edwards’ version)

Originally Published: July 19th, 2008

Mark Nowak is the author of Revenants (Coffee House Press, 2000), Shut Up Shut Down (Coffee House Press, 2008), and Coal Mountain Elementary (Coffee House Press, 2009). His writings on new labor poetics have recently appeared in The Progressive, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Poets in the 21st Century: The New...

  1. July 22, 2008

    Thank you for an informative, engaging and honest review!