Somalian poet Jamila Osman is today named joint winner of the attention-grabbing Brunel International African Poetry Prize.
Jamila, who writes and teaches in Portland, Oregon, will share the £3,000 prize with Egyptian poet Nadra Mabrouk from Cairo.
Aimed at putting poetry from Africa on the stage internationally, the major prize is for African poets worldwide who are yet to publish a full collection.
“In Jamila Osman’s poetry, the reader is introduced to a poet whose cadence and craft come together like the fine edge of a knife,” said judges, Matthew Shenoda Leila Chatti and Phillippa Yaa de Villers.
“Osman’s detailed view of memory both personal and collective create a space for poems that are dipped in diasporic ink and carry a trajectory forever rooted in her home country of Somalia.” The poets and academics added: “Jamila Osman is a poet of allegorical beauty and someone for whom we should all be delighted to read more of in the future.”
Previous winners include Warsan Shire, from Somalia, who later worked with Beyoncé on her album Lemonade, and Nigeria’s Romeo Oriogun, now a Fellow at Harvard University.
“When I started the prize in 2012, African poetry was almost invisible on the international literary landscape,” said founder Prof Bernardine Evaristo.
“Today there are legions of poets out there successfully building careers and being heard,” said the award-winning British-Nigerian writer based at Brunel University London. “It demonstrates the power of schemes such as mine, the African Poetry Book Fund’s many projects, and other initiatives, to revolutionise the literature of an entire continent. The future looks very bright and African poetry is a global force staking its claim.”
Jamila’s poems span far-ranging issues from place and identity, immigration and border justice through to education and race. Read some here
Notes to editors
The Prize is sponsored by Brunel University London and Commonwealth Writers.
For interviews with the poets, email Bernardine.Evaristo@brunel.ac.uk
The full 2019 shortlist is Afua Ansong (Ghana), Mary-Alice Daniel (Nigeria), Inua Ellams (Nigeria), K. Eltinae (Nubian Sudan), Omotara James (Nigeria), Nadra Mabrouk (Egypt), Selina Nwulu (Nigeria), Emmanuel Oppong (Ghana), Jamila Osman (Somalia), Sherry Shenoda (Egypt).
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