Nick Makoha

Nick Makoha was announced the winner of the Ivan Juritz Prize 2021 in the text category on June 28, 2021.

The Ivan Juritz Prize was established in 2014 to celebrate the creative explosion of the modernist era and reward art that seeks to ‘make it new’. Postgraduate students throughout Europe either from traditional academic disciplines or from creative courses are invited to submit texts, films, musical compositions, virtual documentation of artwork, excerpts of moving image work and proposals for installation and performance. The prize is worth £1,000 for each of the three categories in Text, Sound, and Visual Arts.

The 2021 prize was judged by Will Eaves, Josephine Pryde, Richard Scott and Arlene Sierra. This team announced the winner in the text category as Nick Makoha for A Low-Pressure System, part of a sequence that explores the Entebbe hijacking in 1976. It is a dramatic retelling of those events, paralleled against Nick’s life, and key historic events and other intertwining material linked by the motif of flight. It hopes to expand on the range of viewpoints usually brought to bear on this story. Nick uses airport codes as the titles of poems, and as points of inquiry about liminality at airport terminals, as well as poems of the immigrant experience. The motif of flight is rendered through the myth of Icarus and and Basquiat who painted Icarus Esso, 2002.

2021 Judge Will Eaves said, “Nick’s poems take as their starting the hostage rescue mission at Entebbe international airport in 1976. The complex geopolitics of that operation resonate in the lifelong self-fashioning of a writer with many allegiances who fled Uganda for the United Kingdom as a child but for whom the words exile and migrant are mere static views of something more essential a process of endless transformation to the person in perpetual flight.”

Nick Makoha, the founder of the Obsidian Foundation, won the Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2015 and the Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Prize for his pamphlet Resurrection Man 2016. He is the poet who has written the books Kingdom of Gravity (2017), The Dark (2018), Resurrection Man (2016), The Second Republic (2005), and Lost Collection of Invisible Man (2005).

Watch Nick receive his prize in the below video;