We are delighted to announce the winners of the 7th Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2019, a major prize of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa. The Prize is sponsored by Brunel University London. 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.
There were over 1000 entries this year and the judges decided to award the prize to the two poets they considered the most outstanding, in keeping with the project of supporting multiple voices from the African continent.
The winners are Nadra Mabrouk (Egypt) and Jamila Osman (Somalia).
The judges were the poets and academics: Matthew Shenoda (Chair), Leila Chatti and Phillippaa Yaa de Villers.
The judges praised the poets thus:
‘In the work of Nadra Mabrouk lines fold into lines and teach us the alchemy of presence and history. Hers is a poetry often seeking the subtle moments that thread our humanity together through a celebration of the lucid and quotidian. Mabrouk’s ability to make music in celebration of the pure joys of language is a restorative salve in contemporary poetry. Hers is a voice that will pull the reader into and outside of themselves.’
‘In Jamila Osman’s poetry the reader is introduced to a poet whose cadence and craft come together like the fine edge of a knife. Osman’s detailed view of memory both personal and collective create a space for poems that are dipped in diasporic ink and carry a trajectory forever rooted in her home country of Somalia. Jamila Osman is a poet of allegorical beauty and someone for whom we should all be delighted to read more of in the future.’
Bernardine Evaristo, who founded the Prize, has this to say:
‘When I started the prize in 2012, African poetry was almost invisible on the international literary landscape. Today there are legions of poets out there successfully building careers and being heard. This quiet revolution demonstrates the power of initiaves such as mine, the African Poetry Book Fund’s many spearheading prize and publishing projects, and other schemes, to revolutionise the literature of an entire continent. Today the future looks very bright and African poetry is a global force staking its claim and producing some of the most exciting writing to be found anywhere.’
The poets are all available for interview and can be contacted via Bernardine.Evaristo@brunel.ac.uk.
This year’s shortlisted poets were Afua Ansong (Ghana), Mary-Alice Daniel (Nigeria), Inua Ellams (Nigeria), K. Eltinae (Nubian Sudan), Omotara James (Nigeria), Nadra Mabrouk (Egypt), Selina Nwulu (Nigeria), Emmanuel Oppong (Ghana), Jamila Osman (Somalia), Sherry Shenoda (Egypt).
Past winners include: Safia Elhillo, Theresa Lola, Momtaza Mehri, Nick Makoha, Romeo Oriogun and Warsan Shire.