Judges 2020

Chair: Karen McCarthy Woolf

Karen McCarthy Woolf’s poems are translated into Spanish, Italian, Swedish and Turkish and she makes collaborative work with artists, musicians and film-makers. Her first collection An Aviary of Small Birds was a finalist in both the Forward and Aldeburgh-Jerwood prizes and is described as an ‘extraordinarily moving and technically flawless’ (The Poetry Review) ‘pitch perfect’ début (Guardian); her second, Seasonal Disturbances, explores nature, migration, the city and the sacred. A Complete Works Fellow, broadcaster and critic, Karen has edited five literary anthologies and recent commissions include adaptations of Homer’s Odyssey and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando for BBC Radios 3 and 4. Karen holds a Prairie Schooner Glenna Luschei Editors’ Prize and is currently a Fulbright postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles where she is Poet in Residence at the Promise Institute for Human Rights.

Kayo Chingonyi

Kayo Chingonyi is a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry and the author of two pamphlets, Some Bright Elegance (Salt, 2012) and The Colour of James Brown’s Scream  (Akashic, 2016). His first full-length collection, Kumukanda, was published in June 2017 by Chatto & Windus and went on to win the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award. He also won the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize. His residencies include at Kingston University, Cove Park, First Story, The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and Royal Holloway University of London in partnership with Counterpoints Arts. He was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts from Autumn 2015 to Spring 2016, Anthony Burgess Fellow at Manchester University in 2018, and co-edited issue 62 of Magma Poetry and the Autumn 2016 edition of The Poetry Review. He is now poetry editor for The White Review. Kayo is also an emcee, producer, and DJ and regularly collaborates with musicians and composers both as a poet and a lyricist.

Billy KahoraBilly Kahora is writer from Nairobi, Kenya. His short fiction and creative non-fiction has appeared in Chimurenga, McSweeney’s, Granta Online, Internazionale and Vanity Fair and Kwani. He has written a non-fiction novella titled The True Story Of David Munyakei and a short story collection The Cape Cod Bicycle War and Other Youthful Follies that came out in June, 2019. His story Urban Zoningwas shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2012, The Gorilla’s Apprentice in 2014. He wrote the screenplay for Soul Boy and co-wrote Nairobi Half Life which won the Kalasha awards. As Managing Editor of Kwani Trust, a Nairobi based literary network he edited severn issues of the Kwani journal and other Kwani publications including Nairobi 24 and Kenya Burning. He also curated the Kwani Litfest Curator between 2008 – 2015. He is currently a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Bristol.

Momtaza Mehri
Momtaza Mehri is a poet, essayist and meme archivist. She is the co-winner of the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and the Outspoken Page Poetry Prize. Her work has been widely anthologised and has appeared in Granta, Artforum, Poetry International, BBC Radio 4, Vogue and Real Life Mag. She is the former Young People’s Laureate for London and a columnist-in-residence at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Open Space. Her chapbook, sugah lump prayer, was published in 2017 by the African Poetry Book Fund’s Next Generation series. She is currently working on a commissioned art book with Book Works, edited by the artist Hannah Black.

Koleka Putuma
Koleka Putuma is an award-winning poet and theatre practitioner. She is a 2018 Forbes Africa Under 30 Honoree and the recipient of the 2018 Imbewu Trust Scribe Playwrighting Award, the 2017 Mbokodo Rising Light award, the 2017 CASA playwrighting award, and the 2019 Distell Playwrighting Award for her play No Easter Sunday for Queers. She has been called “one of the young pioneers who took South Africa by storm” by the Sunday Times and “the groundbreaking new voice of South African poetry” by OkayAfrica. Her debut poetry collection, Collective Amnesia, won the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. It has been translated into Spanish and released in Madrid by Flores Rara. A German translation is forthcoming from Wunderhorn Publishing House later this year, and a Danish translation will be published by Rebel with a Cause in Denmark in 2020.