PRAIRIE SCHOONER NEWSLETTER, 5 June 2020: The African Poetry Book Fund

We are in awe of the protesters and inspired by their bravery. We’ve seen many countless scenes unfold, protesters putting their bodies on the line in an effort to fight back against the systems of oppression that killed George Floyd. The systems of oppression that have taken so many innocent lives. An evil and malignant force that, if left unchecked, will continue to kill and kill and kill. The people who are fighting back must be supported, they must be celebrated, and they must be empowered. This country and this world must transform, and at this moment it is the protesters who are leading the way.

Prairie Schooner is nearly ninety-five years old, and we exist as part of a land-grant institution with its own sordid history of racism and cruelty. There is no doubt that PS has failed many, many times to offer equal opportunities to Black writers and writers of color. The African Poetry Book Fund originated in response to the lack of publishers engaging seriously with contemporary African poetry. We have worked to amplify the voices of African poets living on the continent and African poets living in diaspora, including African poets living in America. The Black experience is not monolithic or singular, and the Black experience in America is uniquely informed by the wretched particulars of America’s historic and continuing racisms. We are a literary organization, and we are committed to fighting against oppression and for liberation. We lay ourselves down for scrutiny, to be tested, to be challenged to do everything we can to not be complicit in the systemic racism and inequity that lies at the heart of these events. We will examine every area of our operations and our efforts to scrupulously erase any vestiges of racism that may exist. This is no small pledge. We are in solidarity with those mourning the death of George Floyd and committed to doing everything to resist the forces that have led to this moment and the many moments to come.

Read more on Prairie Schooner’s website.

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