14 March 2018

Africa: Women Dominate the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize Shortlist

The Brunel International African Poetry Prize is the largest poetry prize on the continent. The recent shortlist of eight poets from the continent had six women on it. At a time when women are being celebrated for their achievements, the shortlist is cause for more celebration.

The Brunel International African Poetry Prize, currently in its sixth year released its shortlist of eight poets with six women on the list. The prize is sponsored by Brunel University London and the African Poetry Book Fund and is open to poets who have not yet published a full poetry collection.

A total of 10 poems are submitted to the Brunel Prize for consideration by a panel of judges. According to the Brunel Prize release, "many of the shortlisted poets have studied outside the continent - especially in the USA and the UK, where creating writing courses proliferate." Professor Bernadine Evaristo, one of the judges of the prize said, "while we are committed to finding poets who still live in Africa, the truth is that Africa needs to invest in more creative writing opportunities for the aspiring writers who live there."

Unlike last year's shortlist that had four Nigerians in the shortlist, the 2018 shortlist has more poets from different African countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Egypt, Zambia and two poets from Nigeria.

Over 1,000 entries were reviewed, out of which eight were shortlisted. The prize seeks to create "leading African poets of the future."

With March being women's month, the shortlist couldn't have come at a better time. A testimony to the abundance of women poets scattered all over from the continent.

Prof Bernadine said, "African poetry is now staking its claim on the global literary landscape. We are witnessing a quiet revolution."

The shortlisted poets are Gbenga Adeoba (Nigeria); Hiwot Adilow (Ethiopia); Michelle Angwenyi (Kenya); Dalia Elhassan (Sudan); Nour Kamel (Egypt); Theresa Lola (Nigeria); Momtaza Mehri (Somalia); Cheswayo Mphanza (Zambia).

The Prize is funded by the Commonwealth Writers of the Commonwealth Foundation. Last year's winner was Nigerian poet Romeo Oriogun.

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