Nigerian poet Wale Ayinla has been awarded the 2020 Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize for his manuscript To Cast a Dream. 

Ayinla’s manuscript emerged winner from a list of finalists that included Christopher Rose’s Stage Dive, Alexa Patrick’s Remedies for Disappearing, and Kiki Nicole’s Autobiography of Boi Venus.

The prize, founded in 2015 and administered by the Cave Canem Foundation, is “dedicated to the discovery of exceptional chapbook-length manuscripts by Black poets.” In addition to a $500 cash award and publication by Jai-Alai Books in spring 2021, Ayinla will receive copies of the winning chapbook, a residency at The Writer’s Room at The Betsy Hotel in Miami, and a featured reading at the O, Miami Poetry Festival.

The prize’s judge, Mahogany L. Browne, said that the collection

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serves as both eulogy and ode; to the water, to the land, and to the survival of voice. Song, Ocean, Skin, Lapis and Lift — these moments of liberation are the pulse of the poetry. And they beckon us closer, to the page and to ourselves. Who revels in the shine of this literary legacy? Wale Ayinla.

Ayinla’s poetry has appeared in the South Dakota Review, TriQuarterly, Rhino Poetry, UpTheStaircase Quarterly, The LitQuarterly, Cimarron Review, Ruminate Magazine, McNeese Review, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. He is a staff reader for Adroit Journal. He has received a Pushcart prize nomination and several Best of the Net and Best New Poets Award nominations. In 2020, he was a finalist for numerous prizes which include the Jack Grapes Poetry Prize, and his manuscript, Sea Blues on Water Meridian was a finalist for the inaugural Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP) Book Prize.

Fun fact: Wale Ayinla and one of our current staff-writers, Chukwuebuka Ibeh, briefly ran a literary magazine back in the day!

Congratulations, Wale Ayinla! We’ll be keeping an eye out for your chapbook.