The 5 Shortlists for The 2019 Brittle Paper Awards were announced in November. Begun in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, the Awards aim to recognize the finest, original pieces of writing by Africans published online.

READ: The 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Poetry: Meet the Nominees

READ: The 2018 Brittle Paper Award for Poetry: Meet the 6 Finalists

The $1,100 prize money 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 site. The winners will be announced on or after Tuesday, 10 December 2019.


Kemi Alabi by Ally Almore 9.

KEMI ALABI (Nigeria), for Theory of Plate Tectonics,” in The Rumpus

Kemi Alabi is the author of The Lion Tamer’s Daughter (YesYes Books, 2020), a Vinyl 45, BOAAT Press, and Button Poetry Chapbook Prize finalist. Their poetry and essays have been published in many journals and anthologies, including The RumpusGuernicaCatapult, The Guardian, Best New Poets 2019 (University of Virginia Press), and The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2 (Haymarket Books). As Culture Strategy Director of Forward Together, Kemi builds narrative power with writers and artists for social justice. They live in Chicago, IL, USA.

Afua Ansong.

AFUA ANSONG (Ghana & USA), for “Reincarnation,” in 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry

Afua Ansong is a scholar and artist, currently working on a collection of poems about Adinkra Symbols from Ghana. She is interacting with these symbols as modes of grief and artistic freedom. She received her MFA from StonyBrook University and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Rhode Island. She is the author of the chapbooks American Mercy (2019) and Try Kissing God (2020). Her work can be seen on her website:

FROM “Reincarnation”:

I died: a black swan and
sharp, in the skin of
Mitochondrial Eve.

Ojo Taiye by Down Town Images.

OJO TAIYE (Nigeria), for Surveillance Camera,” in Tinderbox Poetry Journal

Ojo Taiye is the author of All of Us Are Birds and Some of Us Have Broken Wings, selected as the winner of the KITW Annual Poetry Prize. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Rattle, Cincinnati Review, Grain, Banshee, SavantGarde, Litmag, Glintmoon, Willow Springs, Lambda Literary, Cherry Tree, Ruminate, Gargouille Magazine, Ninth Letter, Vallum, Frontier Poetry, Palette, Stinging Fly, Notre Dame Review, Tinderbox Poetry, Strange Horizon, and elsewhere. His poem, “There Is Nothing You Can Do to Replace My Fada,” is the winner of the 2019 Jack Grape Poetry Prize. His poem, “Elegiac,” is the winner of the 2019 Hart Crane Poetry Prize. His work has been nominated for the Best of the Net. He is currently living in Nigeria. You can follow him on Twitter: @ojo_poems.

FROM “Surveillance Camera”:

i press my hands against her body & listen to the war on television. a child’s love is butter & milk, two thirds worry & two thirds grief. i want to believe in rebirth that what comes from loss is a form of fibrous light partitioned into many rays.

JAMILA OSMAN (Somalia), for “Penance,” in The Adirondack Review 

FROM “Penance”:

It is hard to know the difference between what happens upon her body and what happens upon mine      brazen as a clap of thunder. Both of us strangers here and everywhere else. Daughter forgive me I say into every mirror shadowed by the twin of me. 

WALE AYINLA (Nigeria), for In Praise of a Night of Perdition,” in Waccamaw

Wale Ayinla (b. 1998) is a Nigerian poet, essayist, and editor. He is a Best of the Net and Best New Poets Award nominee, and his works appear or are forthcoming in Guernica, Garden of Black Joy anthology, Kangaroo Voices, Existere, FlapperHouse, Temz Review, Palette Poetry, Connotations Press, Waccamaw, and elsewhere. In 2017, he was a finalist for the Kreative Diadem Poetry Prize. He is the founding editor of Dwarts Magazine. He is @Wale_Ayinla on Twitter.

FROM “In Praise of a Night of Perdition”:

& what do we say to the boy
digging the sand to find his love?
the earth is for grief and its fullness thereof.

for some strange reasons, a part of him
is enough to build a tower.

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