SHORTLIST 2017

The Brunel International African Poetry Prize
in partnership with Commonwealth Writers
March 2017

We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the 5th Brunel International African Poetry Prize, a major poetry prize of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa. The prize is sponsored by Brunel University London and Commonwealth Writers. It is open to African poets worldwide who have not yet published a full poetry collection. Each poet has to submit 10 poems to be eligible.

The judges this year are the poets and academics: Chris Abani (Northwestern University); Kwame Dawes (University of Nebraska); Safia Elhillo (winner of the 2015 Prize); Patricia Jabbeh Welsley (Penn State University) and Chair and founder, Bernardine Evaristo (Brunel University London).

Bernardine Evaristo has this to say about the shortlist: “Out of a record-breaking 1200 entries, double the amount we received when the Prize began in 2012, the judges have come up with a shortlist of ten poets who reflect the increased quality and diversity of contemporary African poetry. We have always received very few entries from North Africa and so we are delighted to count a North African poet on this shortlist for the first time. Likewise with Muslim background poets, whose presence reflects a similar increase in entries. The Prize has always wanted to celebrate LGBTQ poetry, which has finally come to the fore with two poets bravely and powerfuly exploring openly queer themes. However, all poets were chosen for the quality of their poetry. The largest number of entries comes from Nigeria, which is also reflected in the four Nigerian poets on this shortlist. Nick Makoha, who co-won the Prize in 2015, also returns to this list, as does Kayo Chingonyi, who was previously shortlisted in 2013.

“The Prize works closely with Kwame Dawes and the African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) at the University of Nebraska. All the winners and most of the shortlisted poets of the past four years have had poetry pamphlets published with APBF in their ‘New Generation African Poets’ series of box sets, in partnership with US publishers Slappering Hol Press and Akashic Books. Some of these poets are also publishing or about to publish their first full collections. African poetry, almost invisible in the world of literature for decades, is now undergoing a quiet revolution with the publication of many brilliantly unique poets who are changing the literary landscape of the continent.”

The Shortlist
Please click on the links to access the shortlisted poets.

Sahro Ali (Somalia); Leila Chatti (Tunisia); Kayo Chingonyi (Zambia); Saddiq Dzukogi (Nigeria); Yalie Kamara (Sierra Leone); Kechi Nomu (Nigeria); Richard Oduor Oduku (Kenya); Romeo Oriogun (Nigeria); Rasaq Malik (Nigeria); Nick Makoha (Uganda).

Previous winners
2013   Warsan Shire (Somalia)
2014   Liyou Libsekal (Ethiopia)
2015   Safia Elhillo (Sudan) & Nick Makoha (Uganda)
2016   Gbenga Adesina (Nigeria) & Chekwube O. Danladi (Nigeria)

The poets are available for interview and can be contacted via Bernardine.Evaristo@brunel.ac.uk

Brunel University London
Brunel University London is a public research university located in London, winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2011 for Higher and Further Education. English and Creative Writing at Brunel has been ranked in the Top 11 for the subject in the Guardian University League Table for the past three years.  www.brunel.ac.uk

Commonwealth Writers

Commonwealth Writers, the cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation, develops and connects writers across the world. It believes that well-told stories can help people make sense of events, engage with others, and take action to bring about change. Responsive and proactive, it is committed to tackling the challenges faced by writers in different regions and working with local and international partners to identify and deliver projects. Its activities take place in Commonwealth countries, but its community is global.
http://www.commonwealthwriters.org/