Kadish Morris, Amina Jama, Okechukwu Nzelu, and Inua Ellams have been recognised at the Society of Authors’ Awards 2020 announced today, June 18, 2020.
The Society of Authors’ Awards is the UK’s biggest literary prize fund celebrating poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Held annually, it is a unique evening of celebration with each award chosen by authors for authors and judged by celebrated authors, writers and poets; many former winners themselves. Some previous African winners of this prize have been Anietie Isong, Masande Ntshanga, Kayo Chingonyi, and Omar Robert Hamilton, as well as Nadifa Mohamed, Noviolet Bulawayo, and Helen Oyeyemi.
Award winners in the categories of The Betty Trask Prize, The McKitterick Prize, ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award, Paul Torday Memorial Prize, The Queen’s Knickers Award, Somerset Maugham Awards, The Eric Gregory Award, Cholmondeley Awards, and Travelling Scholarships were announced today. Writers were in the running for the prize money worth £100,000 in total.
Joanne Harris, Chair of the Society of Authors’ Management Committee, said, “We’ve always said that receiving a Society of Authors’ Award can be transformational for an author. They aren’t about promoting big corporate sponsors. They don’t seek out one big winner and say ‘this one’s best of all’. Each year, they reward the breadth and depth of books and words, and reward authors at the start of their careers as well as those well established. ‘This year, as the health crisis makes authors’ precarious careers even more of a challenge to sustain, it is more important than ever to celebrate the work of today’s 32 winners.”
There are only four African/Black writers, poets who feature in this year’s roll of honour and they are;
The Betty Trask Prize and Awards
The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are presented for a first novel by a writer under 35. Judged by Ben Brooks, Elanor Dymott and Vaseem Khan. Prize money: £5,400.
- Okechukwu Nzelu, The Private Joys of Nnena Maloney (Dialogue Books)
Okechukwu Nzelu is a writer and teacher. He was born in Manchester in 1988, read English at Girton College, Cambridge and completed the Teach First programme. His work has been published in Agenda, PN Review, E-magazine and The Literateur and his essay Troubles with Go0064 will be published in the anthology Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space (Trapeze, 2019). In 2015 he was the recipient of a New Writing North Award for The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney, which is his debut novel.
The Eric Gregory Award
The Eric Gregory Award is presented for a collection of poems by a poet under 30. Judged by Vahni Capildeo, Inua Ellams, Don Paterson, Katherine Pierpoint, Michael Symmons Roberts and Roger Robinson. Prize money: £5,670
- Kadish Morris, Poor and Sexy.
Kadish Morris is a London-based poet, critic, and editor originally from Leeds. As a teenager, she featured in the award-winning documentary film, We are Poets and went on to study Magazine Publishing with Creative Writing. Her poetry has been published in Popshot, A Strange American Funeral, was recently exhibited at Gallery 44 in Toronto and was also turned into a BBC short film in 2019. She has performed her work at the ICA, the BFI, and Rich Mix Theatre. She is currently the commissioning editor at The Observer New Review and was previously a staff writer at frieze.
- Amina Jama, A Warning To The House That Holds Me.
Amina Jama is a Somali-British writer, currently studying for her BA English with Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University. An alumna of Barbican Young Poetry, member of Octavia Poetry Collective, co-host of BoxedIn, Amina has completed residencies and performed internationally with Speaking Volumes. She began facilitating at 19 years of age as the Assistant facilitator for the Roundhouse Poetry Collective. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies, as well as shortlisted for the Outspoken 2018 Poetry Prize. She has been commissioned by the BBC, Nationwide, The Queens Gallery, Buckingham Palace and the London Mayor’s Office. Amina produced, curated and launched an installation and exhibition which toured at the Roundhouse, Black Cultural Archives and Free Word Centre from Aug-Dec 2019. Published work includes: The Things I Would Tell You, edited by Sabrina Mahfouz, published by Saqi Books in 2017; Rising Stars published by Otter-Barry Books in 2017; Poems Out Loud published by Lady-Bird in 2019.
The Travelling Scholarships
The Travelling Scholarships are awarded to British writers to enable engagement with writers abroad. Judged by Tahmima Anam, Aida Edemariam, Adam O’Riordan, Sameer Rahim and Gary Younge. Previous recipients have included Dylan Thomas, Laurie Lee, Margaret Drabble and Helen Simpson. £1,600 EACH
Inua Ellams, a poet, playwright, and designer who founded The Midnight Run.