Eight up-and-coming African poets have been announced as the shortlist for the 6th Brunel International African Poetry Prize: a major annual prize aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa.
The Prize, sponsored by Brunel University London and the African Poetry Book Fund, is open to African poets worldwide who have not yet published a full poetry collection, each of whom submits 10 poems to be scrutinised by the panel of experts.
Together with her fellow judges, Brunel's Professor Bernardine Evaristo – award-winning author of fiction and verse fiction, and founder of the Prize – reviewed over 1000 entries, and shortlisted:
"This is an incredibly exciting time in the development of African poetry," remarked Professor Evaristo.
"We expect that many of the poets engaged in our powerful poetry initiatives will become the leading African poets of the future."
The winner of the £3,000 Prize, scheduled to be announced on 1 May 2018, will join the ranks of previous winners, including 2013's Warsan Shire (Somalia) and last year's Romeo Oriogun (Nigeria), who are role models for even newer up-and-coming poets.
Professor Evaristo has seen the quality of poetry increase exponentially each year, and the prize now attracts an incredible assortment of 21st-century poets exploring a wide range of themes and styles.
"Romeo Oriogun was our first openly gay winner, and we are also attracting more North African entries. We always aim to select a continental spread of brilliant poets," she said.
Many of the shortlisted poets have studied outside the continent – especially in the USA and the UK, where creating writing courses proliferate. Professor Evaristo commented that "while we are committed to finding poets who still live in Africa, the truth is that Africa needs to invest in more creative writing opportunities for the aspiring writers who live there."
What is clear is that great things are expected from the shortlisted poets: many still in their twenties, yet some who are older but still relatively new to writing poetry.
"African poetry is now staking its claim on the global literary landscape," remarked Professor Evaristo. "We are witnessing a quiet revolution."
The judging panel is completed by the celebrated poets and academics Malika Booker, Kwame Dawes, Diana Evans and Mahtem Shiferraw.
Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations
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