Isele Prizes 2022 winners announced.

Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo, Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike, and Nora Nneka are the winners of the inaugural Isele Prizes 2022. The announcement was made today, Tuesday, April 26, 2022.

The Isele Prize celebrates the best of short stories, poetry, and essays by writers published in the Ukamaka Olisakwe founded Isele Magazine. The prizes are split into three categories – short stories, poetry, and essays, and each category is judged by a panel of two judges.  

The longlisted entries, which will appear in the annual print project – The Best of Isele Anthology were announced on January 21 before the shortlists were revealed on March 21. The winners have been announced today and they are;

The Isele Short Story Prize

  • The Year of the Sun, Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo

Judges’ citation: “Okonkwo’s exceptional short story explores the difficult conversations we have about how we love, our culture and traditions, and the relationship we have with our history. Her language pulses and her structure is controlled. This is a masterfully crafted story, which immerses you in the setting as she builds this world with mathematical precision, such that a reader, even if they aren’t familiar with the period and the culture, sees themselves in her characters. This story stays with you.”

The Isele Poetry Prize

  • there’s more and Two Poems, Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike

Judges’ citation: Umezurike’s poem travels around the world, gathering stories about people who search for new beginnings despite the dangers that lurk in the deserts and in the seas, dangers that nip dreams at the bud, but which our seekers must brave for their sanity, for a moment away from the despair they leave behind. Umezurike’s poem is timeless, and we are so lucky he trusted us with his work.

The Isele Nonfiction Prize

  • Sense of Touch, Nora Nneka

Judges’ citation: Nneka’s deeply moving essay explores the relationship between a daughter and her mother, family trauma, grief, and how these experiences shape a woman’s narrative arc—her relationship with her body, her journey through pregnancy, and the joy that comes with embracing these stories that come together to define who we are and our relationship with our community. Her language is spellbinding.

Click here to learn more about the award ceremony.