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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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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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