African Poetry to Receive International Recognition

The $3,000 Brunel University African Poetry Prize is awarded to an African poet for a selection of poems. The prize which is now in its second year and is sponsored by Brunel University and partnered by Commonwealth Writers is aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poems from Africa.

The Brunel University African Poetry Prize is open to anyone who was born in Africa, is a national of an African country or whose parents are African. Exactly ten poems must be submitted in order to be eligible for this prize.

Bernardine Evaristo, award-winning British-Nigerian writer, initiated the prize in 2012. Bernardine teaches creative writing at Brunel University, is the author of the critically acclaimed Mr. Loverman (Penguin, 2013) and a 2013 judge for the Golden Baobab Prizes for African children’s literature. On the importance of a prize exclusively or African poetry, Bernardine explains,

“I have judged several prizes in the past few years, including chairing the Caine Prize for African Fiction in 2012, an award that has revitalised the fortunes of fiction from Africa since its inception in 1999. It became clear to me that poetry from the continent could also do with a prize to draw attention to it and to encourage a new generation of poets who might one day become an international presence. African poets are rarely published in Britain. I hope this prize will introduce exciting new poets to Britain’s poetry editors.”

Apart from the $3,000 cash prize, winners of the Brunel University African Poetry Prize will have some of their poems published by Prairie Schooner, one of the leading literary magazines in the USA and Wasafiri, the leading British journal of international writing. The first winner of the prize was Somali poet, Warsan Shire, who describes the impact of the prize on her writing career:

“Since winning the prize I have travelled to six different countries to teach poetry and read my work; I’ve had interest from different literary agents and publishing houses; and I was appointed the first Young Poet Laureate for London, definitely sure that the last one wouldn’t have happened had I not won the prize. I have a chapbook due out in America and small collections of my poems translated and published in Estonian and Danish.”

The prize is currently open for entries and will close on November 30th. The winner will be announced on 28th April, 2014.
For more information on the Brunel University African Poetry Prize, visit their website: http://www.africanpoetryprize.org/.

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