Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2022 shortlist

The shortlist for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2022 was announced on Monday, March 21, 2022.

The Brunel International African Poetry Prize, worth £3,000, was started in 2012 to revitalise African poetry and encourage a new generation of poets to get an international platform. It was founded by Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo who is also a Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London, UK. Previous winners have been Warsan Shire (2013), Liyou Libsekal (2014), Safia Elhillo and Nick Makoha (2015), Gbenga Adesina and Chekwube O. Danladi (2016), Romeo Oriogun (2017), Momtaza Mehri, Theresa Lola, and Hiwot Adilow (2018), Nadra Mabrouk and Jamila Osman (2019), Rabha Ashry (2020), and Othuke Umukoro (2022).

For 2022, the judging panel is chaired by Gabeba Baderoon alongside Tjawangwa Dema (Botswana) and Tsitsi Jaji (Zimbabwe). The panel has announced the shortlist for this prize and those who made the cut are;

  • Conor Cogill (South Africa)
  • Asmaa Jama (Somalia)
  • Edil Hassan (Somalia)
  • Zibusiso Mpofu (Zimbabwe)
  • Fahad Al-Amoudi (Ethiopia)
  • Adedayo Agarau (Nigeria)
  • Chisom Okofor (Nigeria).

The panel said on the shortlist: ‘It is fitting that after a decade of the Brunel International African Poetry Prize, we find here African voices liberated from prescriptions of form and ideas. Engaging an expansive range of themes, from familial intimacy to the body to history’s lingering arc, this was a richly varied selection marked by confident experimentation with formal strategies – from disciplined patterns to playful uses of spacing, typography, punctuation, and more. In the poems, we are ferried from a near empty stadium where Marvin Gaye sings to the moon and a cleaning crew to ‘bilaal [who] was the only black man allah loved’ to a party in northwest China to rooms ‘peopled by cardiac monitors and /bespectacled cardiologists’. Many strike a deeply melancholic note, and even a sense of mourning. But they are alive to the currents of history and the way poetry’s memorial practices animate the raw intimacy between the seen and unseen. The poems offered rich grounds from which to form our shortlist.’

The winner of the prize will be announced on May 2.

The prize committee also announced that this is the tenth and final year of the Prize in its current iteration. After the winner has been announced in May, the Prize will become part of the African Poetry Book Fund’s roster of prizes and activities. They have renamed it the Evaristo African Poetry Prize and it will open for submissions in October 2022.