The joint winners of the 2016 Brunel University African Poetry Prize 2016 are Nigerians Gbenga Adesina and Chekwube O. Danladi. They will share the £3000 prize money, the second time this has happened as last year there were also joint winners.
The Brunel University African Poetry Prize, a major poetry prize of aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa. The prize is sponsored by Brunel University London and Commonwealth Writers. It is open to African poets worldwide who have not yet published a full poetry collection. Previous winners of the prize are Warsan Shire (Somalia) in 2013, Liyou Libsekal (Ethiopia) in 2014, and Safia Elhillo (Sudan) & Nick Makoha (Uganda) last year.
The judges this year were Dr Kwame Dawes (University of Nebraska), Dr Tsitsi Jaji (University of Pennsylvania), Dr John Keene (Rutgers University), Dr Helen Yitah (University of Ghana), and Chair and founder, Dr Bernardine Evaristo, Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London.
The selected the two poets from the ten shortlisted ones out of a record-breaking 900 entries that were made this year. Chekwube O. Danladi was born in Lagos, Nigeria and raised there, as well as in Washington DC and West Baltimore. A Callaloo Fellow, her writing prioritizes themes of teleological displacement, navigations and interrogations of gender and sexuality, and the necessary resilience of African and Afro-diasporic communities. She is currently working towards an MFA in Fiction at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
The judges said: ‘Danladi’s poems are glorious, risky, ambitious and fresh. There is a powerful sense of social justice and serious engagement with contemporary and historical African concerns.’
Gbenga Adesina lives and writes in Nigeria. His poetry, essays and reviews have been featured or are forthcoming in Harriet’s Blog for the Poetry Foundation and in Jalada, Premium Times, Brittle Paper, Africanwriter.com, One Throne, Vinyl, Prairie Schooner and Soar Africa. His first chapbook, Painter of Water, will be published by APBF in the spring of 2016.
The judges said: ‘Adesina’s poems are powerfully political, beautiful and truly searing. This is a poet with a compelling voice addressing concerns of injustice, memory, migration and family.’