Zibusiso Mpofu was declared the winner of the final edition of the Brunel International African Poetry Prize on Monday, May 2, 2022.
The Brunel International African Poetry Prize, worth £3,000, was started in 2012 to revitalise African poetry and encourage a new generation of poets to get an international platform. It was founded by Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo who is also a Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London, UK.
Previous winners have been Warsan Shire (2013), Liyou Libsekal (2014), Safia Elhillo and Nick Makoha (2015), Gbenga Adesina and Chekwube O. Danladi (2016), Romeo Oriogun (2017), Momtaza Mehri, Theresa Lola, and Hiwot Adilow (2018), Nadra Mabrouk and Jamila Osman (2019), Rabha Ashry (2020), and Othuke Umukoro (2021).
For 2022, the judging panel was chaired by Gabeba Baderoon alongside Tjawangwa Dema (Botswana) and Tsitsi Jaji (Zimbabwe). The panel announced the shortlist on March 21 before the winner, Zibusiso Mpofu, was made public on Monday, May 2. The judges describe Mpofu’s poetry thus:
‘His allusive, lyrical poems open a new itinerary in African poetry, drawing in Shona and Mandarin and mapping a journey of the Black body through India, Hong Kong, the Philippines and China. Superbly crafted, the poems unfold in unexpected directions, balancing raw realism and nearly mystical understatement. Mpofu’s urgent silences and aching directness are all the more remarkable given the testimonial-like and retrospective nature of his lines. Touching on migration, the family, identity, art and an odyssey through many Asias, the poems narrate a harrowing, riveting postcolonial passage, and arrive at ending of surprising revelation. Mpofu is a worthy recipient of the tenth Brunel International African Poetry Prize.’
The judges also awarded Asmaa Jama (Somalia) an honourable Mention.
Following an earlier announcement, this is the tenth and final year of the Prize in its current iteration as it becomes the Evaristo African Poetry Prize.