Writers of African descent on Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2021 shortlist

Asmaa Jama, Usha Rungoo, and Damion Spencer are on the shortlist for the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize announced on September 17, 2021.

Wasafiri, founded in 1984, is a UK-based magazine for international contemporary writing renowned for publishing some of the world’s most distinguished writers. The magazine’s Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize was launched to support new writers, with no limits on age, gender, nationality or background in 2009. It is handed out in the categories of fiction, poetry, and life writing. Some of the previous winners of the prize have been Sharma Taylor, Deirdre Shanahan, Ndinda Kioko, and Niamh MacCabe.

For 2021, the judging panel chaired by Andrew Cowan includes Hirsh Sawhney (Fiction), Christie Watson (Life Writing), and Tishani Doshi (Poetry). The shortlist has been announced in the different categories and the chair Andrew Cowan said,

“What a pleasure it was to encounter these works, and to discuss them with my fellow judges. If there was a common theme it was the fragility of our belonging, and our vulnerability to loss. Each in their very different way seemed to speak to our ‘moment’. And yet each reminded us of the power of literature to reveal new horizons, new possibilities, to bring us into conversation.”

Here are the shortlisted writers of African descent;

Life Writing judged by Christie Watson

  • Usha Rungoo for The Song of Life
  • Damion Spencer for Death Comes in Threes

Poetry judged by Tishani Doshi

  • Asmaa Jama for Autopsy

Damion Spencer responded, “Blow-Wow!!! Shut up! This just happened! Big up my @UniOfHullOnlineCreative Writing MA tutors and my cohort. Thanks @WasafiriMagfor recognising my work! #Humbled”

Usha Rungoo commented, “So honored (and shocked) that “The Song of Life” was shortlisted for @WasafiriMag’s New Writing Prize in Life Writing and will now be part of a literary home I have long loved and respected.”

Asmaa Jama said, “so honoured to have been shortlisted for this year’s prize.”

Shortlisted pieces will be published over the coming months and you will be able to read the winning pieces in full in the Spring 2022 issue of Wasafiri. The winners will be announced on 14 October 2021.