Archive for October, 2013

A lot of interested African poets may find this press release useful. Why not read through and perhaps, send in entries too? Read:

The $3,000 Brunel University African Poetry Prize is awarded to an African poet for a selection of poems.  The prize which is now in its second year and is sponsored by Brunel University and partnered by Commonwealth Writers is aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poems from Africa.

Bernadine Evaristo - Prize Initiator

Bernadine Evaristo – Prize Initiator

Bernardine Evaristo, award-winning British-Nigerian writer, initiated the prize in 2012. Bernardine teaches creative writing at Brunel University, is the author of the critically acclaimed Mr. Loverman(Penguin, 2013) and a 2013 judge for the Golden Baobab Prizes for African children’s literature. On the importance of a prize exclusively or African poetry, Bernardine explains,

I have judged several prizes in the past few years, including chairing the Caine Prize for African Fiction in 2012, an award that has revitalised the fortunes of fiction from Africa since its inception in 1999. It became clear to me that poetry from the continent could also do with a prize to draw attention to it and to encourage a new generation of poets who might one day become an international presence. African poets are rarely published in Britain. I hope this prize will introduce exciting new poets to Britain’s poetry editors.”

Apart from the $3,000 cash prize, winners of the Brunel University African Poetry Prize will have some of their poems published by Prairie Schooner, one of the leading literary magazines in the USA and Wasafiri, the leading British journal of international writing. The first winner of the prize was Somali poet, Warsan Shire, who describes the impact of the prize on her writing career:

Warsan Shire - Inaugral Prize Winner

Warsan Shire – Inaugral Prize Winner

“Since winning the prize I have travelled to six different countries to teach poetry and read my work; I’ve had interest from different literary agents and publishing houses; and I was  appointed the first Young Poet Laureate for London, definitely sure that the last one wouldn’t have happened had I not won the prize. I have a chapbook due out in America and small collections of my poems translated and published in Estonian and Danish.”

The prize is currently open for entries and will close on November 30th. The winner will be announced on 28th April, 2014.

For more information on the Brunel University African Poetry Prize, visit their website: http://www.africanpoetryprize.org/.

 

No Respite Here

Posted: October 24, 2013 in MUSINGS
Tags: , , , ,
Coffins

The dead from the Lampedusa tragedy. Pic. credit: Qantara.de

 
We have laughed before
On the morning when we were born.
I was not there but they told me I laughed.
With careless glee, taking all the world in my gums.
And these ones
I heard them laugh
That early morning when the midwife brought them here
Telling tales of shot mamas and arrested papas
Certainly never to return.
I did not see them but I heard them laugh
Laugh at the world, laugh at all our world
Which would not laugh back.

Why do you ask us to laugh now
Here, at the brink of this water
Coming and going, calling us?
Why do you ask us to laugh
With a burnt village behind us
And drowned brothers before us,
On our way to Lampedusa?
What is humorous about paddling over the place
Where your brother’s carcass lies
Grinning up above at you
On your way to freedom,
And Lampedusa, death.
Wherein is the humour of overtaking your brother?

We sail away, our heads full of dreams
Dreams that come to us only by daylight
For where we stand,
We cannot sleep at night
And try as we do,
We have forgotten how to laugh.

24th October 2013 – For the 350, maybe more, who perished on their way to freedom.

I wrote this poem to remember Africans who died earlier this month off the coast of Lampedusa while fleeing difficult conditions in their homes. All they wanted was a better life.