19 March 2017

Nigeria: Four Nigerian Poets On Brunel Poetry Prize Shortlist

Four Nigerians have been named in the 10-man shortlist of poets in the running for the 2017 Brunel International African Poetry Prize with the winner taking away a cash prize of £3000.

The prize which, according to the organisers, is aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa 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.

According to the list issued by the judges, after due deliberation, Nigerian poets, Saddiq Dzukogi, Rasak Malik Gbolahan, Kechi Nomu and Romeo Origun are in the running for the prize.

They will slug it out with Sahro Ali (Somalia) Leila Chatti (Tunisia), Kayo Chingonyi (Zambia), Yalie Kamara (Sierra Leone), Richard Oduour Oduku (Kenya) and Nick Makoha (Uganda).

They were selected by judges 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).

"Out of a record-breaking 1200 entries, double the amount we received when the Prize began in 2012, the judges have come up with a shortlist of ten poets who reflect the increased quality and diversity of contemporary African poetry," Chair of Judges Bernadine Evaristo said.

"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 powerfully exploring openly queer themes. However, all poets were chosen for the quality of their poetry. 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," she added.

"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."

Previous winners of the prize since 2013 have included Warsan Shire (Somalia), Liyou Libsekal (Ethiopia), Safia Elhillo (Sudan) & Nick Makoha (Uganda), Gbenga Adesina (Nigeria) & Chekwube O. Danladi (Nigeria).

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