Tjawangwa “TJ” Dema debut poetry collection The Careless Seamstress is coming out on March 1, 2019.
The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry is awarded annually to an African poet who has not yet published a collection of poetry. Previous winners of the award are Clifton Gachagua for Madman at Kilifi (2014), Ladan Osman for The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (2015), Mahtem Shiferraw for Fuchsia (2016), Safia Elhillo for The January Children (2017), and Bernard Matambo for Stray.
In January 2018, Tjawangwa “TJ” Dema won the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets 2018 for her collection, The Careless Seamstress. As part of the prize, she would receive a $1000 cash award and publication of her manuscript as part of the African Poetry Book Series by the University of Nebraska Press.
TJ Dema is a Motswana poet, arts administrator, and teaching artist. She earned an MA in creative writing from Lancaster University. Her chapbook, Mandible, was published as part of Seven New Generation African Poets (Slapering Hol Press, 2014).
The new collection with a foreword by Kwame Dawes will be available for your reading pleasure from March 1. Here is its blurb;
This dazzling debut announces a not-so-new voice: that of the spoken-word poet Tjawangwa Dema. Winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, Dema’s collection, The Careless Seamstress, evokes the national and the subjective while reemphasizing that what is personal is always political.
The girls and women in these poems are not mere objects; they speak, labor, and gaze back, with difficulty and consequence. The tropes are familiar, but in their animation, they question and move in unexpected ways. The female body—as a daughter, wife, worker, cultural mutineer—moves continually across this collection, fetching water, harvesting corn, raising children, sewing, migrating, and spurning designations.
You can get your copy from Amazon here starting on March 1.
Please also check out this great interview of the poet at our friends at Africa in Dialogue.