Nothing less than ten poets have reached the shortlist for the this year’s annual Brunel International African Poetry Prize, the fifth of its kind – a major award of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa continent.
The 2017 prize attracted some 1,200 entries – doubling the size of the competition since its launch in 2012.
The prize is sponsored by Brunel University London and Commonwealth Writers and 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 winner/s will be announced on May 2nd 2017.
This year’s shortlist:
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).
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).
On announcing the shortlist, Bernardine Evaristo said: “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. 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.”
2013 Warsan Shire (Somalia)
2014 Liyou Libsekal (Ethiopia)
2015 Safia Elhillo (Sudan) & Nick Makoha (Uganda)
2016 Gbenga Adesina (Nigeria) & Chekwube O. Danladi (Nigeria)