Nigeria’s Othuke Umukoro wins the 2021 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. The news was announced by prize organizer Bernardine Evaristo, on Twitter:

Umukoro is the fifth Nigerian to receive the award. He emerged winner from a shortlist of eight which included fellow Nigerians Oluwadare Popoola and Yomi Sode, Gambian Kweku Abimbola, Ugandan Arao Ameny, South African Isabelle Baafi, Somalian Asmaa Jama and Mosotho Tumelo Motaboloa.

We are super proud of Othuke Umukoro whose work we published here.  His work has also appeared in Sunlight Press, AfricanWriter, Eunoia Review & elsewhere. His debut play Mortuary Encounters (Swift publishers, 2019) is available here.

The judging panel, chaired by poet Karen McCarthy Woolf and including poets Rustum Kozain (South Africa) and Makhosazana Xaba (South Africa) were “unanimous” in their choice of winner, and had high praises for the winning poem:

“The language is lush, mesmeric at times and the balance between lyric and narrative deftly handled. There is a technical competence too. These are unafraid, thoughtful pieces — playful, yet serious, making us look at love, life, mortality afresh. The elegiac A Mountain Cracks Before Translation — mourning the suicide of a brother found hanging — heartbreaking, but never gratuitous in its detail. A complex poet, with the formal skills to match the weight of the subjects he takes on, whether it’s sexuality and the family dynamic, HIV, or nature, ecology and politics.”

Previous winners of the prize include Somalia’s Warsan Shire in 2013, Ethiopia’s Liyou Libsekal in 2014, Sudan’s Safia Elhillo and Uganda’s Nick Makoha in 2015, Nigeria’s Gbenga Adesina and Chekwube O. Danladi in 2016, Nigeria’s Romeo Oriogun in 2017, and the trio of Somalia’s Momtaza Mehri, Nigeria’s Theresa Lola, and Ethiopia’s Hiwot Adilow in 2018, Somalia’s Jamila Osman and Egypt’s  Nadra Mabrouk in 2019, and Egypt’s Rabha Ashry in 2020.

Congratulations to Othuke Umukoro.