Previous Winners

Winner 2013
Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire is Kenyan-born Somali poet and writer raised in London, UK. Born in 1988, she has read her work all over Britain as well as in South Africa, Italy, Germany, Canada, North America and Kenya. Her poetry pamphlet, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, was published in 2011 by flipped eye. Her poems have appeared in WasafiriMagma and Poetry Review and in the Salt Book of Younger Poets (Salt, 2011). They have been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Since winning the first Prize, Warsan was made the first Poet Laureate of London. She has published a second chapbook, Our Men Do Not Belong To Us with the African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) New Generation African Poets Box Set Series, and a third chapbook, Her Blue Body, with Spread the Word. She also collaborated with Beyonce on her 2016 album, Lemonade, which featured Warsan’s poetry throughout. In 2017 she was published as a Penguin Modern Poet with Malika Booker and Sharon Olds in Your Family, Your Body (Penguin Modern Poets 3).

Winner 2014
Liyou Libsekal 

Liyou Mesfin Libsekal  was born in 1990 in Ethiopia and grew up traveling with her family, spending the majority of her childhood in different parts of East Africa. She earned a BA in Anthropology from George Washington University in 2012, with a minor in international affairs and a concentration in international development. Liyou returned to Ethiopia after spending a short time in Vietnam. Since January 2013 she has written on culture and the changing environment of her rapidly developing country for the Ethiopian Business Review. Since winning the Prize, Liyou has published her first chapbook, Bearing Heavy Things (2015) with the African Poetry Book Fund New Generation African Poets Box Set Series.

Winners 2015
Safia Elhillo & Nick Makoha

Safia Elhillo is Sudanese by way of Washington, DC. She is a Cave Canem Fellow, and is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at the New School. She is a poetry editor at Kinfolks Quarterly, a journal of black expression. Her work has been nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize, and appears or is forthcoming in several publications including Vinyl Poetry, Bird’s Thumb, Union Station Magazine, and RedLeafPoetry’s African Diaspora Poetry Folio. Safia teaches poetry at the International High School in Queens and lives in New York City. Since winning the Prize, she has published a pamphlet, Asmarani, with the African Poetry Book Fund New Generation African Poets Box Set Series, and her first book, The January Children, was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2017.

Nick Makoha was born in Uganda but fled the Idi Amin dictatorship. He subsequently lived in Kenya and Saudi Arabia, and currently lives in London. His first pamphlet, The Lost Collection of an Invisible Man, was published by flippedeye in 2005. His second pamphlet, The Second Republic, was published in the African Poetry Book Fund’s ‘Seven New Generation African Poets’ series, and will be forthcoming as a full collection from Peepal Tree Press. Nick’s one man show, My Father & Other Superheroes, recently toured the UK, and he has also toured to the US, Finland, Czech Republic and the Netherlands. Since winning the Prize he has published a second chapbook, The Second Republic, with the African Poetry Book Fund New Generation African Poets Box Set Series. His first poetry book, Kingdom of Gravity, will be published by Peepal Tree Press in 2017.

Winners 2016
Gbenga Adesina & Chekwube Danladi

Gbenga Adesina lives and writes in Nigeria. His poetry, essays and reviews have been featured or are forthcoming in Harriet’s Blog for the Poetry Foundation and in Jalada, Premium Times, Brittle PaperAfricanwriter.com, One Throne, Vinyl, Prairie Schooner and Soar Africa. In 2015, he was an Open Society Foundation Resident Poet on Goree Island, off the coast of Senegal. Since winning the Prize, his first chapbook, Painter of Water, has been published by the African Poetry Book Fund New Generation African Poets Box Set Series. Follow him @Gbadenaija.

Chekwube O. Danladi was born in Lagos, Nigeria and raised there, as well as in Washington DC and West Baltimore. A Callaloo Fellow, her writing prioritizes themes of teleological displacement, navigations and interrogations of gender and sexuality, and the necessary resilience of African and Afro-diasporic communities. She is currently working towards an MFA in Fiction at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.