The shortlists for the 2018 Brittle Paper Awards were announced in October. Begun in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, the Awards aim to recognize the finest, original pieces of writing by Africans published online.

The $1,100 prize is split across five categories: the Brittle Paper Award for Fiction ($200), the Brittle Paper Award for Poetry ($200), the Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction ($200), the Brittle Paper Award for Essays & Think Pieces ($200), and the Brittle Paper Anniversary Award ($300) for writing published on our blog. The winners will be announced on Monday, 19 November 2018.

Meet the Finalists for the 2018 Brittle Paper Award for Poetry

Sarah Lubala. Photo credit: Sarah Lubala.

Sarah Lubala (South Africa & Congo), for “A List of Things I Do Not Tell My Mother,” in Apogee Journal

Sarah Lubala is a Congolese-born South African writer. She has been shortlisted for the Gerald Kraak Award and consequently published in the 2018 Gerald Kraak Anthology, As You Like It. Her poems have also appeared in the Best “New” African Poets 2017 Anthology, The Missing Slate, Brittle Paper, Apogee Journal, Prufrock, and more.

From “A List of Things I Do Not Tell My Mother”:

c. there is skin more tender than daylight just behind the ear. i plant two kisses on the
indian girl i met on tinder. her laughter is clean water.

Itiola Jones. Photo credit: Nicholas Nichols.

Itiola Jones (Nigeria), for “A Field, any Field,” in The Offing

Itiola “I. S.” Jones is an American-Nigerian poet, educator, and music journalist from Southern California by way of New York. She is a fellow with BOAAT Writer’s Retreat, Callaloo, and is a Graduate Fellow with The Watering Hole. She received two nominations for the Best of The Net Anthology and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016. During poetry month, I.S. hosts a month-long low cost/free online workshop called “The Singing Bullet,” which is being sponsored by The Speakeasy Project for a second year in a row.

She is Assistant Editor at Voicemail Poetry as well as Managing Editor at Dead End Hip Hop. Her works have appeared and/or are forthcoming in The Rumpus, The Harpoon Review, The Blueshift JournalSunDog LitMatador Review, great weather for MEDIA, The Offing, Anomalous Press, The Shade Journal, Puerto Del Sol, Nat.Brut, and elsewhere.

From “A Field, any Field”:

I trusted you
despite the blood in your mouth.
I believe you believe you meant me no harm,
yet violence was the first way you learned to hold anything.

Momtaza Mehri. Photo credit: Ndrika Anyika.

Momtaza Mehri (Somalia & UK), for “Summer Night Spent Cosplaying Ashanti & Ja Rule Or Something Else Resembling Happiness,” in Frontier Poetry

Momtaza Mehri is a poet and essayist. She won 3rd prize in the 2017 National Poetry Competition and is co-winner of the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. She is the current Young People’s Laureate for London and a columnist-in-residence at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Open Space.

From “Summer Night Spent Cosplaying Ashanti & Ja Rule Or Something Else Resembling Happiness”:

You remain suspicious of anything that lines the throat. Hugs the mourner from inside out. All lemon & light & loss. You are always sick. Runt of the runt. An ache some call chronic. Some call history.

Chisom Okafor. Photo credit: Chisom Okafor.

Chisom Okafor (Nigeria), for “I Like to Think I’d Yet Manage to Weave Words into Poems,” in Expound

Chisom Okafor, poet, nutritionist and bartender, lives in Lagos, Nigeria. His works appear or are forthcoming in Praire SchoonerPalette PoetryThe Indian Journal of Literature and Aesthetics, Expound Magazine, The Single Story Foundation Journal, The Rising Phoenix, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Kikwetu Journal, the Art Naija Series on Brittle Paper, and elsewhere. He was listed in Woke Africa’s “21 Best African Writers of the New Generation.” He is presently on the editorial team of 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry.

From “I Like to Think I’d Yet Manage to Weave Words into Poems”:

make them start with moving backwards

into compressible fists of clouds:

For Aunt Mar’yam

(skip: of the sex scenes)

Mother appears now as before. She drags leukaemia like cigarette smoke

Megan Ross. Photo credit: Skye Cronje.

Megan Ross (South Africa), for “Origin Myths,” in The Single Story Foundation Journal

Megan Ross was born in Johannesburg in 1989. She is a writer, journalist and designer, and has received critical acclaim for both her short fiction and poetry. Her writing has appeared in Mail and Guardian, Fairlady, Glamour, GQ and O, the Oprah Magazine. Megan is the 2017 recipient of the Brittle Paper Award for Fiction, a runner-up for the 2017 National Arts Festival’s Short Sharp Award, as well as one of the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Award winners. She is also an Iceland Writers Retreat alumnus. Her first book, a collection of poems called Milk Fever, was published by uHlanga in 2018. Megan currently lives in East London with her partner and son, and is working on her first novel.

From “Origin Myths”:

The tooth fairy took my teeth but my mother hid
my molars          with her pearls          threading
my pupil through          her mother’s iris
whose death           planted Sahara
between           her daughter & granddaughter.          how to flood a
desert?            You can’t

Tsitsi Jaji. Photo credit: Joel Elliott.

Tsitsi Jaji (Zimbabwe), for “On the Isle of Lesbos,” in Harvard Review

Tsitsi Jaji was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She is an associate professor of English at Duke University, and the author of a scholarly book, Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music, and Pan-African Solidarity, and a volume of poems, Beating the Graves.

From “On the Isle of Lesbos”:

Only the boat’s lip remained, trembling on a crest
of sympathy. He moored himself in his nets, a morning
haul of squid miming hope. Then the tide turned:
his arms flooded full of other men’s children….

Enquiries, about the shortlisted writers or for interviews with them, can be sent to [email protected]


READ: The 2018 Brittle Paper Award for Fiction: Meet the 5 Finalists