The Brunel Prize Announces 2022 Shortlist of 7 Poets

The judges praised the finalists as “African voices liberated from prescriptions of form and ideas.”
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Adedayo Agarau, the new editor-in-chief of Agbowo Magazine.

The Nigerian poet Adedayo Agarau.

The 2022 shortlist of the Brunel International African Poetry Prize has been announced, with seven poets from five countries. It offers £3,000 to an African poet who has not published a full-length collection.

This is the prize’s 10th year, and the last with its current format. As we reported last year, the prize, from 2023, will be administered by the African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) and renamed the Evaristo African Poetry Prize, after its founder Bernadine Evaristo.

Writers on this year’s shortlist are the Nigerian poets Adedayo Agarau and Chisom Okafor, Somali’s Asmaa Jama and Edil Hassan, South Africa’s Conot Cogill, Zimbabwe’s Zibusiso Mpofu, and Ethiopia’s Fahad Al-Amoudi.

The judges—chair Gadeba Baderoon, Tjawangwa Dema, and Tsitsi Jaji—praised the finalists as “African voices liberated from prescriptions of form and ideas.”

They wrote: “Engaging an expansive range of themes, from familial intimacy to the body to history’s lingering arc, this was a richly varied selection marked by confident experimentation with formal strategies. . . they are alive to the currents of history and the way poetry’s memorial practices animate the raw intimacy between the seen and unseen. The poems offered rich grounds from which to form our shortlist.”

Since its founding, the Brunel Prize has become the definitive poetry prize in the continent, championing some of the most important poets writing today, from Warsan Shire and Safia Elhillo to Gbenga Adesina and Romeo Oriogun, with most going on to publish books with the APBF, a longtime partner of the prize.

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Read each finalist’s poems

The 2021 prize went to Nigeria’s Othuke Umukoro. The winner of the 2022 Brunel Prize will be announced on May 2, 2022.

Emmanuel Esomnofu
Emmanuel Esomnofu is a staff writer at Open Country Mag. He is a culture journalist and has written extensively on Nigerian music and on several moving parts of popular culture. His writing appears online in Native Mag, Okay Africa, Kalahari Review, Praxis Magazine, and elsewhere. He was published in print in The Muse, the oldest student journal in West Africa. In December 2020, he worked on "Fuji: A Opera" as a copywriter, creating informative and exciting stories from Fuji's rich history.

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