The Brunel University African Poetry Prize is a major new annual poetry prize of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa.
Now in it's second year, this year the prize is sponsored by Brunel University and Commonwealth Writers.
British-Nigerian writer, Bernardine Evaristo, who teaches creative writing at Brunel University London and initiated the prize in 2012, describes her reasons for a new prize exclusively devoted to African poetry:
'I have judged several prizes in the past few years, including chairing the Caine Prize for African Fiction in 2012, an award that has revitalised the fortunes of fiction from Africa since its inception in 1999. It became clear to me that poetry from the continent could also do with a prize to draw attention to it and to encourage a new generation of poets who might one day become an international presence. African poets are rarely published in Britain. I hope this prize will introduce exciting new poets to Britain's poetry editors.'
Prairie Schooner, one of the leading literary magazines in the USA, having published continuously for eighty-five years, has committed to publishing some of the work of the winning poets of the Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Wasafiri, the leading British journal of international writing, will also publish the winner. Similar arrangements will be pursued with other major literary journals in the United Kingdom and the US.
The prize is open to poets who were born in Africa, or who are nationals of an African country, or whose parents are African.
The prize is for ten poems exactly in order to encourage serious poets. These poems may, however, have been published. Only poets who have not yet had a full-length poetry book published are eligible. Poets who have self-published poetry books or had chapbooks and pamphlets published are allowed to submit for this prize.In April 2013, Somali poet Warsan Shire was the first winner of the prize. Here she describes the impact of the prize on her writing career.
'Since winning the prize I have travelled to six different countries to teach poetry and read my work; I've had interest from different literary agents and publishing houses; and I was appointed the first Young Poet Laureate for London, definitely sure that the last one wouldn't have happened had I not won the prize. I have a chapbook due out in America and small collections of my poems translated and published in Estonian and Danish.'