Isele Magazine has announced the list of contributors shortlisted for the inaugural edition of The Isele Prizes.

The prize, which was launched early this year, highlights the best pieces of writing published in the magazine across three categories – short stories, nonfiction and poetry. The shortlist of five in each category was gleaned from an earlier announced longlist of ten writers by a judging panel consisting of two judges.

The winners in each category will receive a cash award of $200, presented to them at a ceremony at the end of April. All the longlisted works will appear in the annual print project – The Best of Isele Anthology.

In an email message to to us, Ukamaka Olisakwe, founder and editor-in-chief of Isele Magazine, comments on the wide range of the forms and themes represented in the shortlist:

“What these stories, poems, and essays have in common is their ability to immerse the reader in different periods and different worlds, and to do this in stunning and intelligent language. Some respond to ongoing cultural conversations about ways of being, abortion, sexuality, how we grieve. Some take a keen look at how our interactions with each other during challenging times shape us.

These works encourage us to always remember our duty of care for each other, to nurture an inclusive community where no one is discriminated against, to never trample on the humanity of each other. Reading them, especially when we are all struggling to adapt to a stretched-out pandemic, gave us hope.”

See the full shortlist below:


The Year of the Sun” by Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo

Right” by Rilla Askew

Sunset Dreams” by Troy Onyango

Souvenir” by Roseline Mgbodichinma

The Children of No 39 Faulks Street” by Innocent Chizaram Ilo

The Only One I Have Not Lost” by Dennis Mugaa


Two Poems” by Romeo Oriogun

Four Poems” by Joanna George

there’s more” and “Two Poems” by Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike

Three Poems” by Kelli Russell Agodon

Three Poems” by Chisom Okafor


Serengeti Saga” by Sylvia K. Ilahuka

Sense of Touch” by Nora Nneka

Feeling Your Way Home” by Uche Osondu

Adjuncts in the Age of the Coronavirus” by Frances Cannon

The Feminine and the Oracular” by Itiola Jones

Find out more about the writers here.

Congratulations to the writers!