South African poet Maneo Mohale has received the 2021 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry for their collection Everything is a Deathly Flower. Their debut offering, the collection has been described as a bold reckoning “with the experience of – and the reconstruction of a life after – a sexual assault.” They will receive a cash award of $1,000. Everything is a Deathly Flower was published by Uhlanga Press, an acclaimed indie press in South Africa.
The Glenna Luschei Prize, named after its benefactor literary philanthropist Glenna Luschei, is the first pan-African book prize of its kind and “promotes African poetry written in English or in translation by recognizing a significant book published each year by an African poet.” It is an initiative of The African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) which also runs the Silverman First Book Prize.
Mohale’s work has appeared in Jalada, Prufrock, The Beautiful Project, The Mail &Guardian, spectrum.za, and other places. They have served as a contributing editor for The New York Times and i-D, among others. They were named a Global Feminism Writing Fellow in 2016, through which they wrote on race, media, sexuality and survivorship. In 2020, Mohale was shortlisted as the year’s youngest finalist for the Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize.
The 2021 judge Phillippa Yaa de Villiers said of Maneo Mohane:
“A gifted poet will, in this world of distractions, compel the reader to listen deeper, to filter out the verbosity of the market and the barrage of restrictions that humans place upon language, to find the voice of memory, a sound so close to silence,” de Villiers wrote about Mohale’s book.”
Congratulations to Maneo Mohale!