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 

(Updated March 2018)
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. After spending a short time in Vietnam, Liyou returned to Ethiopia and now lives in Addis Ababa. 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, she has published her first chapbook, Bearing Heavy Things (2015) with the APBF’s New Generation African Poets Box Set Series. Her work has also appeared in Elsewhere Lit, Expound Magazine, Cordite Poetry Review, and other publications.

Winners 2015
Safia Elhillo & Nick Makoha

(Updated March 2018)
Safia Elhillo 
is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, she received an MFA in poetry at the New School. Safia is a Pushcart Prize nominee, receiving a special mention for the 2016 Pushcart Prize and won the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation, and Crescendo Literary x The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Incubator. Safia’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, Callaloo, and The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day series, among others, and in anthologies including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. Her work has been translated into Arabic, Japanese, Estonian, Portuguese, and Greek. With Fatimah Asghar. She is co-editor of the anthology Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019).

(Updated March 2018) 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 was The Lost Collection of an Invisible Man (flippedeye 2005). His second pamphlet, Resurrection Man (Jai-Alai Books)  won the Toi Derricote & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize 2016.  His third pamphlet, The Second Republic, was published in the APBF’s Seven New Generation African Poets series. His first poetry book, Kingdom of Gravity (Peepal Tree Press,  2017) was shortlisted for the Felix Fennis Prize for Best First Collection 2017 and was a Guardian Best Book of 2017. His poetry has appeared in the New York Times, Poetry Review, Rialto, Triquarterly Review, Boston Review, Callaloo, and Wasafiri. 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. www.nickmakoha.com

Winners 2016
Gbenga Adesina & Chekwube Danladi

(Updated March 2018)
G
benga Adesina is a Nigerian born poet and essayist. His poem, “How To Paint A Girl” was selected by Mathew Zapruder for its “clarity of observation and empathetic insight into the suffering of another” for the New York Times in July 2016. He was a 2017 Emerging Poet Fellow at the Poets House, New York. He has received other fellowships and scholarships from the Norman Mailer Center, the Fine Arts Work Centre, Provincetown, The Open Society Foundation in Goree Island, off the coast of Senegal and Callaloo at Oxford. His poetry chapbook, Painter of Water, was published by APBF and Akashic Books. His poems and interviews have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Washington Square Review, Brittle Paper,Vinyl, Ploughshares and elsewhere. His poetry manuscript, Holy Bodies, was a finalist for the 2017 Sillerman First Book Prize. He is currently a StarWorks Poetry Fellow at New York University where he’ll also be teaching undergraduate poetry. Follow him @Gbadenaija.

(Updated March 2018)
Chekwube O. Danladi
is Nigerian. She has received  fellowships and support from Callaloo, Kimbilio, The Vermont Studio Center, and Hedgebrook. Her work can be found in Black Warrior Review, West Branch, Apogee, CutBank, Callaloo, and elsewhere. She was raised in Lagos, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland. Her writing prioritizes themes of teleological displacement, navigations and interrogations of gender and sexuality, and the necessary resilience of African and Afro-diasporic communities. Her first chapbook, Take Me Back was published by APBF/ Akashic Books in 2017, and she is currently working on a novel about queers living in Abuja, Nigeria.

Romeo Oriogun lives and writes Nigeria. His poems, which mostly deal with what it means to live as a queer man in Nigeria, have been featured in Brittle Paper, African Writer, Expound, Praxis, and others. He is the author of Burnt Men, an electronic chapbook published by Praxis Magazine Online.