We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the 6th Brunel International African Poetry Prize, a major prize of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa. The Prize is sponsored by Brunel University London and the African Poetry Book Fund. It is open to African poets worldwide who have not yet published a full poetry collection. Each poet has to submit 10 poems in order to be eligible.
The judges this year are the poets and academics: Malika Booker; Kwame Dawes (University of Nebraska); Diana Evans; Mahtem Shiferraw; and Chair and founder, Bernardine Evaristo (Brunel University London).
Bernardine Evaristo has this to say about the shortlist:
“This year there were just over 1000 entries, double the amount we received when the Prize began in 2012. The quality of poetry submitted to the Prize has increased exponentially each year as the field of published African poets widens and they then become role models for even newer poets coming up. For example, when the Prize began there were a lot of Christian poems, and poems influenced by black poets of the 60s and 70s – a sign that aspiring poets on the continent were not being exposed to enough contemporary secular African poetry. Now we have an incredible assortment of twenty-first century poets exploring a wide range of themes and styles, such as last year’s winner, Romeo Oriogun, who was our first openly gay winner. We are also attracting more North African entries and for the second year a North African poet is shortlisted. We always aim to select a continental spread of talented poets, although we have more submissions from Nigeria than any other country. And while we are committed to finding poets who still live in Africa, the sad truth is that many of our shortlisted poets are those who have had access to a creative writing education and a literature development culture outside of the continent, especially in the US and UK, where creative writing courses proliferate, from informal workshop groups through to postgraduate degrees. There needs to be more creative writing opportunities for the aspiring writers who live in Africa.
We work 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 five years have had poetry pamphlets published with APBF in their stunning New Generation African Poets series of box sets with Slappering Hol Press and Akashic Books (USA). Some of these poets are also publishing, or about to publish, their first full collections. This is an incredibly exciting time in the development of African poetry. We expect that many of the poets engaged in our impactful poetry initiatives will become the leading African poets of the future. Many of them are still very young, in their twenties, and we expect great things from them, but also those from poets who are older but still relatively new to publishing poetry. African poetry is now staking its claim on the global literary landscape. We are witnessing a quiet revolution.
Note of Thanks
For five years the Prize was financially supported by Commonwealth Writers of the Commonwealth Foundation, a huge act of generosity that was much appreciated as the Prize fell outside of its usual scope of activities. Thank you.
Please click on the links to access the shortlisted poets.
2013 Warsan Shire (Somalia)
2014 Liyou Libsekal (Ethiopia)
2015 Safia Elhillo (Sudan) & Nick Makoha (Uganda)
2016 Gbenga Adesina (Nigeria) & Chekwube O. Danladi (Nigeria)
2017 Romeo Oriogun (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 is always ranked in the Top 11 for the subject, out of 106 universities, in the Guardian University League Table. www.brunel.ac.uk