Nadra Mabrouk and Jamila Osman are the joint winners of the Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2019 in an announcement made on May 30, 2019.
The Brunel International African Poetry Prize was founded by British-Nigerian writer, Bernardine Evaristo, Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London, in 2012. The prize worth US pounds 3,000, was aimed at revitalising African poetry and encouraging a new generation of poets to get an international platform. Previous winners have been Warsan Shire in 2013, Liyou Libsekal in 2014, Safia Elhillo and Nick Makoha in 2015, Gbenga Adesina and Chekwube O. Danladi in 2016, Romeo Oriogun in 2017, and Momtaza Mehri, Theresa Lola, and Hiwot Adilow in 2018.
In 2019, the poets who submitted for the awards would have their work analyzed by a jury chaired by Matthew Shenoda, alongside Leila Chatti, and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers. The shortlist announced on March 25 featured ten of some of the best young poets writing today in Afua Ansong, Mary-Alice Daniel, Inua Ellams, Eltinae, Omotara James, Nadra Mabrouk, Selina Nwulu, Emmanuel Oppong, Jamila Osman, and Sherry Shenoda.
The winner of the award from these was announced on May 30 and it was a joint affair with Nadra Mabrouk and Jamila Osman sharing the spoils.
The judges praised the poets thus: ‘In the work of Nadra Mabrouk lines fold into lines and teach us the alchemy of presence and history. Hers is a poetry often seeking the subtle moments that thread our humanity together through a celebration of the lucid and quotidian. Mabrouk’s ability to make music in celebration of the pure joys of language is a restorative salve in contemporary poetry. Hers is a voice that will pull the reader into and outside of themselves.’
‘In Jamila Osman’s poetry, the reader is introduced to a poet whose cadence and craft come together like the fine edge of a knife. Osman’s detailed view of memory both personal and collective create a space for poems that are dipped in diasporic ink and carry a trajectory forever rooted in her home country of Somalia. Jamila Osman is a poet of allegorical beauty and someone for whom we should all be delighted to read more of in the future.’
Bernardine Evaristo, who founded the Prize, has this to say: ‘When I started the prize in 2012, African poetry was almost invisible on the international literary landscape. Today there are legions of poets out there successfully building careers and being heard. This quiet revolution demonstrates the power of initiatives such as mine, the African Poetry Book Fund’s many spearheading prizes and publishing projects, and other schemes, to revolutionise the literature of an entire continent. Today the future looks very bright and African poetry is a global force staking its claim and producing some of the most exciting writing to be found anywhere.’