Ten up-and-coming African poets have been announced as the shortlist for the seventh Brunel International African Poetry Prize, a major annual prize aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa.
The £3000 Prize, sponsored by Brunel University London, is open to African poets worldwide who have not yet published a full poetry collection, each of whom submits ten poems. This year the jury consists of three celebrated poets chaired by Matthew Shenoda (Egypt), along with Leila Chatti (Tunisia) and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers (South Africa).
Every year there are over 1000 entries and this year the judges chose ten poets to shortlist. Inua Ellams has made the shortlist for a third time, and Mary-Alice Daniel for a second time.
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)
The winner of the Prize, scheduled to be announced on the 30th May 2019, and will join the ranks of previous winners, most of whom have subsequently published full collections and enjoyed many other successes. 2013’s winner Warsan Shire (Somalia) subsequently collaborated with Beyonce on her album, Lemonade; the 2017 winner, Romeo Oriogun (Nigeria), the Prize’s first openly gay poet, is now a Fellow at Harvard University; and one of last year’s three winners, Theresa Lola (Nigeria), published her first full collection this year, In Search of Equilibrium.
Bernardine Evaristo, writer and founder of the Prize and Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel, has seen the quality of poetry increase exponentially each year, and it now attracts an diverse assortment of new poets with their own differing styles and thematic interests. The Prize has always worked closely with Kwame Dawes and the African Poetry Book Fund in the USA, who have published many of the shortlisted authors in their chapbook series as a stepping stone towards producing a full publication.
“When I started the prize in 2012, African poetry was almost invisible on the literary landscape. Today there are legions of poets out there successfully building careers and being heard,’ remarked Evaristo. ‘It demonstrates the power of schemes such as mine, the African Poetry Book Fund and other initiatives, to revolutionise the literature of an entire continent. The future looks very bright.’