Posts Tagged ‘Sillerman Prize’

Calling all African poets desirous of publishing a first book! This is an announcement you may not spare me for keeping away from you. Read:

The African Poetry Series has been made possible through seed funding from philanthropists, Laura and Robert F. X. Sillerman, whose generous contributions have facilitated the establishment of the African Poetry Book Fund.  Mr. and Mrs. Sillerman have also welcomed the use of their name for the First Book Prize for African Poets.

Prizes

The winner receives USD $1000 and publication through with the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal.

Eligibility

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets will only accept “first book” submissions from African writers who have not published a book-length poetry collection. This includes self-published books if they were sold online, in stores, or at readings. Writers who have edited and published an anthology or a similar collection of other writers’ work remain eligible.

An “African writer” is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, who is a national or resident of an African country, or whose parents are African.

Only poetry written in English is eligible. Translated poetry is accepted but a percentage of the prize will be awarded to the translator.

No past or present paid employees of the University of Nebraska Press or Amalion Press, or current faculty, students, or employees at the University of Nebraska, are eligible for the prizes.

When to Send

Manuscripts are accepted annually between September 15 and December 1st.

Manuscript

Poetry manuscripts should be at least 50 pages long.

The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript. All entries will be read anonymously. Please include a cover page listing only the title of the manuscript (not the author’s name, address, telephone number, or email address). An acknowledgements page listing the publication history of individual poems may be included, if desired. No application forms are necessary. You may submit more than one manuscript.

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets accepts electronic submissions ONLY. Click here to submit via Submittable.

Entry Fee

Free

Notification

The winner is announced early January on the African Poetry Book Fund website. Results will be emailed shortly thereafter.

2013 Winner

The winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets for 2013 is Clifton Gachagua for his manuscript Madman at Kilifi. He will receive a USD $1,000 prize and publication by the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal. (Details)

Please send any questions to psbookprize@unl.edu

All the best to you all who take part.

I had one good day yesterday. Prof. Kwame Dawes, a Ghanaian-Jamaican poet who was with Kofi Awoonor at Storymoja Hay festival where Awoonor was killed, passed through Ghana for the funeral. Afterwards, he asked to meet the literati in Accra to confer on this and that. It was a good gathering attended by bright lights like Ama Ata Aidoo (@AmaAtaAidoo), Nii Ayikwei Parkes (@BlueBirdTail), Esi Sutherland, Kwame Dawes (@kwamedawes) himself and the creme of the Department of English of the University of Ghana.

Kofi Awoonor (L) and Kwame Dawes (R), at Storymoja Hay Festival on the eve of Awoonor's death

Kofi Awoonor (L) and Kwame Dawes (R), at Storymoja Hay Festival on the eve of Awoonor’s death

Picture credit: Msingi Sasi

I felt privileged to be in the company of such great advocates and proponents for the African literary voice and the hour and half felt like very good investment for the 73km I had journeyed to get to the venue. Prof. Dawes was making his point for the African Poetry Book Fund, the Sillerman Prize and other possible activities that could be put together to push African literature through the university system and partnerships with the Univeristy of Nebraska. It was refreshing.

There were mentions of Awoonor, who had been the reason why this meeting had been at all possible and I was elated that when I got up to speak and introduced myself, Ama Ata Aidoo recognized my name. She later mentioned how Kinna had read to her my previous post in tribute to Awoonor. There was suppressed laughter after the event, masking our general elation for being able to keep the conversation on African literature going, while also having to privately mourn, as a community of literature lovers, one of the best poets of African extraction. I joked with Prof Dawes at how he and the judging panel of the Brunel poetry prize could not see the brilliance of the entries I submitted. Warsan Shire totally deserved that award, let it be said.

Today, I publish this poem which has taken me all of three days to write; not because it is difficult, but because I have had to gather myself since the last post, to come to terms with Awoonor’s passing. Yesterday’s event at the Department of English broke me through. I title it;

Word On The Street

Why do we kneel here,

Here, windswept paths of a day gone by

Contorted ways begging forgetfulness

 Of the feet that strayed this way just yesterday.

Why do we kneel here?

We can make here no penance or sacrifice.

The lamb has already been carried home

The shearers and feasters pick dry teeth

Our teeth and all their teeth set on edge.

While tears lick our faces dry.

Why do we kneel here?

Asking what if and what not if and why not

Why do we kneel here, why do we clutch this place here,

This ground, this senseless ephemeral patch

Ready to disappear into the dirges of our dreams?

 This dirty patch aborted of its tree

Why do we come in response of sorrow that summons us

Our lips, ready to weep but silent

Afraid to offend him.

Why do we kneel here?

This here lies his body

We have seen it for ourselves

And our knees fail to prop us

We kneel here

This here is Awoonor!

This is no more word on the street.