Gbenga Adeoba was announced as the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets 2019 winner for his manuscript Exodus on March 8, 2019.
The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry is backed by philanthropists Laura and Robert FX Sillerman as part of their overall funding of the African Poetry Book Fund. The award honours awarded annually to an African poet who has not yet published a collection of poetry. The winner receives USD $1000 and book publication through the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal.
Previous winners of the award and their books have included Clifton Gachagua’s Madman at Kilifi (2014), Ladan Osman’s The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (2015), Mahtem Shiferraw’s Fuchsia (2016), Safia Elhillo’s The January Children (2017), as well as Tjawangwa (TJ) Dema’s The Careless Seamstress which just came out and Bernard Matambo’s Stray (forthcoming, 2018).
The judging panel for the Sillerman Prize is made up of the African Poetry Book Fund’s Editorial Board, including Chris Abani, Gabeba Baderoon, Bernardine Evaristo, Aracelis Girmay, John Keene, Matthew Shenoda, and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, with Kwame Dawes, who also serves as Director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Prairie Schooner Editor-in-Chief.
Gbenga Adeoba whose poems have been published in Oxford Poetry, Pleiades, Salamander, Notre Dame Review, Hotel Amerika, Poet Lore, among others was a finalist for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2018. He is currently an MFA student at the Iowa Creative Writing Workshop.
“I’m really honored,” Adeoba said on winning the award. “I know the manuscript is in good hands.”