Thoughts on DUGWE by Su’eddie Agema
Anthologies are usually highly anticipated. There is a constant hunger for more collections to submit, and even read, that would showcase variant writings as opposed to the single authored books.
We have been blessed with several anthologies particularly electronic like Saraba, Naija Short Stories, Sentinel and the like. In print, ANA (National) recently published an anthology in commemoration of their 29th Convention, while ANA Benue produced a fine volume of poetry titled Bridge for Birds. But the toast of this piece is not these but Dugwe: An Anthology of New Writing: A Journal of Writing, Criticism and Art.
No doubt, there was a careful selection for the pieces that constitute Dugwe. The collections boasts pieces from award winners like Unoma Azuah, Jumoke Verissimo, Kabura Zakama and Bose Ayeni-Tsevende for poetry; Tunji Ajiibade, Uche Peter Umez, A. Igoni Barrett, Sylva Nze Ifedigbo on the fiction lane. Now, it is easy to note that this is not a complete list of the award winners featured in the collection– for most of the writing featured are worth awards.
The tales and verses in Dugwe are as varied as the several writers whose different voices bring a different view and take readers to varied places in thoughts, style, genre and direction – all flowing and in some cases, interweaving. They move from realism to fantasy, the absurd, modern to traditional, religion to love, politics, corruption and the like. There is a desire to cover every aspect of Nigerian writing – for the collection is made up of Nigerian writers writing mainly on stories from their milieu, differing and sometimes, conforming to convention.
A few problems are however noticeable with Dugwe. Most of them are editorial. There are misspellings here and there, evident from start with the wrong spellings of names of contributors on the very first page of the book – Judith Ralph (Rapu), Jumoke Verrssmo (Verissimo), Kabara Zakama (Kabura)… Within the book, one notices typos and some grammatical errors that really shouldn’t have found their way into a book of such worth.
Considering that the anthology is described on the front as a journal of ‘writing, criticism and art’, one might have hoped to find a few essays on criticism too. It was absent. Perhaps there were no entries sent to cover this. Furthermore, there are a few pieces that need some reworking. Stories like ‘Umma Hani’s Spittle of Anger’ would really get a better shaping after a round at AWF’s reading and critique session.
On the whole, Dugwe offers a very beautiful read and gives the clichéd saying “Variety is the spice of life” substance. While the Abuja Writers’ Forum can justly be proud of this effort, there’s more to be done especially in the aspect of editing. Knowing the AWF standard – each edition of their every effort being better than the former, one can’t help but bite fingers in anticipation (coincidently, at advent now) of the second coming of Dugwe.