Nigerian writers Derek Ehiorobo and Kyle Okeke are the winners of the 2023 Evaristo Prize for African Poetry (formerly the Brunel International Prize for African Poetry).

The Evaristo Prize for African Poetry is an annual prize of USD $1,500 awarded to ten poems written by an African poet. Established first as the Brunel International African Poetry Prize (BIAPP) in 2012 by British writer Bernardine Evaristo, who founded and managed the prize for ten years, the Evaristo Prize was renamed in 2022 and is now administered by the African Poetry Book Fund.

Derek Ehiorobo (Lagos, Nigeria) was selected for his poem “And God Said” and Kyle Okeke (Texas, U.S./Nigeria) for “Butterflies.” Chosen from amongst five short-listed finalists, Ehiorobo and Okeke will each receive a prize of $750.

This year’s judges were Gabeba Baderoon, Tjawangwa Dema, and Mahtem Shiferraw. They remarked that Ehiorobo’s poem contains “an unguarded tenderness wielded so delicately and resonantly that the speaker becomes a point of translation whom we sometimes even forget exists. This delicacy of touch courses through line after line and contains the grief–within, within.” Read “And God Said” here.

With regard to Okeke’s work, the judges noted an “exquisite sense of expansiveness and restraint in these poems. So much is carried here in language that is centered and succinct. Marked by images of astonishing beauty and power, ‘Butterflies’ crafts an intimate and undaunted poetic voice. This collection of ten poems is a profoundly moving poetic achievement.” Read “Butterflies” here.

The judges also chose one honorable mention .CHISARAOKWU. (California, U.S./Igbo). They remarked that her poems are full of knowing and beauty, and “the mastery of language and imagery is almost uncanny. The narratives are interwoven into each other, braiding upon braiding, new splitting of the same stories, with writing that is tactile, evocative and beautifully sensorial.”

Kyle Okeke is a writer from Sugar Land, Texas, whose work appears or is forthcoming in Glass: a Journal of Poetry, Foglifter, and POETRY, among others. He is pursuing an MFA in creative writing at UT Austin’s New Writers Project.

Ehiorobo Derek is a writer, poet, and spoken word artist. His work has been published in Praxis, Poetry column-NND, Liquid Imaginations, the How to fall in love anthology published by Inkspired Nigeria, and the How to fall in love again anthology, also published by Inkspired Nigeria.

Congrats to Okeke and Derek!