By Ogova Ondego
Published September 18, 2016
Africans interested in writing contests have three major competitions to which to submit their creativity for money. Yes, good hard currency: British Pounds and US American Dollars.
But none of the three contests I am telling you about here is the Pulitzer Prize, the German Book Prize, the Premio Strega, the Man Booker Prize, the Prix Goncourt or the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Alright, dear writer in Africa; the three—Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets—may not be as richly endowed as the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the Man Booker or the Nobel Prize for Literature but they nevertheless enhance your reputation as a serious or committed writer who should be taken seriously. In other words, they open doors of opportunity for you.
So why don’t I just introduce each contest, explaining what it is and telling you what you are expected to do in order to have a stab at the prize money on offer.
The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, now in its third year, is a pan-African Poetry prize whose aim is to “promote African poetry written in English or in translation and to recognize a significant book published each year by an African poet.”
Projecting itself as “the only one of its kind in the world” the author of the winning book receives US$5000.
The prize is open to any book of original poetry published in English during the previous calendar year in a standard edition of a full-length collection of poetry written by any African writer.
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.
To submit a book for consideration, you are expected to send four copies of each entry, postmarked between May 1 and October 1, 2016, to:
The Glenna Luschei Poetry Prize
The African Poetry Book Fund
110 Andrews Hall
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0334.
The second contest worth talking about is the Commonwealth Short Story Prize that opened for entries on September 1, 2016.
Eligible for submission to the literary prize, dear writer, are unpublished short fiction between 2000 and 5000 words.
Short stories translated into English as well as those in Bengali, Portuguese and Kiswahili are also accepted.
Unlike entries for the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry that must be submitted via post, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize only accepts entries via its online entry form. The deadline for doing so is November 1, 2016.
The overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize receives £5000 while the regional winners receive £2500.
Good money, isn’t it? My taste buds for British Pounds salivate!
The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets—that is awarded annually to an African writer who has not yet published a collection of poetry—is the third writing contest.
The deadline for you to send in your work is December 1, 2016.
Like the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry,the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets defines ‘African writer’ as someone who was born in Africa, who is a national or resident of an African country, or whose parents are African.
Please note that only poetry submissions in English can be considered for the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets that was launched in 2013 with the publication of Clifton Gachagua’s Madman At Kilifi (2014) followed by Ladan Osman’s The Kitchen Dweller’s Testimony (2015) and Mahtem Shiferraw’s Fuschia (2016). Scheduled for release in 2017 is Safia Elhillo’s The January Children.And the 2017 winner could be, well, you!
Manuscripts for the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets are accepted between September 15 and December 1 annually.
Like for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, no entry fee is required to submit to the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. Encouraging, right? Let’s swamp them with our great writing.
But before overwhelming anyone with our great African writing, let’s pay attention to the following (terms & conditions?!) details:
• Poetry manuscripts should be at least 50 pages long
• Your details—name, address, telephone number, or email address—should not appear on the manuscript; all entries are read anonymously
• Submissions should be sent in Times New Roman or Arial, 12 point font, single-spaced
• Have only one poem per page, meaning a new poem does not begin on the same page on which another ends.
The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, like the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, (and I can’t stress enough how much I like this!) accepts electronic submissions only.
The winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, who will be announced in January 2017, shall receive US$1000 and book publication through the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal.