The Nigerian poet and essayist Chibuihe Obi Achimba has won the annual SBCF Emerging Artist Award given by St. Botolph Club Foundation (SBCF). The annual award—for creatives in the fields of music, literature, and visual arts—is open to US-based artists in the New England area, which comprises Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. The artists must first be nominated by a recognized professional in the cultural community and are then invited by the foundation to submit their work for the award.
“I feel equal thrill and gratitude,” Chibuihe Obi Achimba told Open Country Mag. “I am thrilled because this poetry manuscript is making these intense demands of me both in time and craft commitment. There is a bit of confidence that comes from seeing its bristling potential recognized by a jury, even in its unfinished form. My gratitude is to whoever nominated me for this award and also to the foundation. It’s a privilege to be seen and have your work amplified as a new transplant to a region teeming with talented artists.”
Chibuihe grew up in southeastern Nigeria, writing poems celebrating queer love in a country infamous for its homophobia. After completing his first university degree in Nigeria, he advanced his studies in America. He was a Harvard Scholar-at-Risk Fellow in 2019-2020 and a Summer Visiting Arist at the Oregon Institute for Creative Research. His work has appeared in Harvard Review, Guernica, Arrowsmith Press, and The New York Times, where he published “Gay in Nigeria, Black Male in America,” a distressing essay about his struggles in the two countries he has so far called home.
Previous recipients of the SBCF Emerging Artist Award in the literature category include Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding and Harvard professor and novelist Paul Yoon.
Chibuihe’s story is inspiring to everyone, especially the young ones, that anything is possible and that we are limitless. Like the moon, he cannot be hidden.