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The entry of African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) expanded in more than one way the African literary scene. With its chapbook series and prizes, it helped revolutionize the poetry landscape on the continent. While the Glenna Luschei Prize, which honours a collection, and the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, which recognizes best first books, have produced remarkable winners and finalists, it is the Brunel International African Poetry Prize that has been the most transformative.

Founded by Bernardine Evaristo in 2012, the Brunel Prize, named after its Brunel University, London sponsor, has offered breakthrough to some of the most remarkable young poets working today: Warsan Shire, Liyou Libsekal, Safia Elhillo and Nick Makoha, Gbenga Adesina and Chekwube O. Danladi, and Romeo Oriogun have won or co-won it; Inua Ellams, Kayo Chingonyi, Saddiq Dzukogi, Leila Chatti, and Kechi Nomu have been shortlisted, among several others.

Brittle Paper has a fortunate history with the Brunel Prize. Its last two winners, Gbenga Adesina in 2016 and Romeo Oriogun in 2017, were published by us before their ascent. Saddiq Dzukogi and Kechi Nomu, also previously published by us, were finalists in 2017. This year, Theresa Lola and Momtaza Mehri join this group. Furthermore, four of the finalists for 2017’s inaugural Brittle Paper Award for Poetry—Yalie Kamara, Kayo Chingonyi, Nick Makoha, and Oriogun—had been shortlisted for the Prize the same year.

Brittle Paper will now be reviewing the poems shortlisted for the Brunel Prize, yearly. Starting this weekend, the shortlisted poems by Sudan’s Dalia Elhassan, Egypt’s Nour Kamel, Nigeria’s Gbenga Adeoba, Ethiopia’s Hiwot Adilow, Kenya’s Michelle Angwenyi, Nigeria’s Theresa Lola, Somalia’s Momtaza Mehri, and Zambia’s Cheswayo Mphanza will be discussed by selected writers, including Brittle Paper staff.

Congratulations, once more, to the eight finalists.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award for which he was shortlisted ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017). His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He is the curator of the ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016), focuses on cities in Nigeria. The second, WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied History and Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies and Pop Culture, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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