By Iminza Keboge
Published January 21, 2017
A Zimbabwean national has won the 2017 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets.
Bernard Matambo shall receive US$1000 cash award and publication of Stray, his winning manuscript, as part of the African Poetry Book Series by the University of Nebraska Press. The book is scheduled for release in 2018.
Matambo is the fifth poet to win the annual Sillerman prize, following 2016 winner Safia Elhillo, whose book, The January Children, will be released in March 2017; Mahtem Shiferraw, whose book, Fuchsia, was published in 2016; Ladan Osman, whose book, The Kitchen Dweller’s Testimony, was published in 2015; and the inaugural winner of the prize, Clifton Gachagua, whose book, Madman at Kilifi, was released in 2014.
“Matambo’s work is marked by a complex engagement with contemporary poetics, while being enriched by the large and fecund literary traditions of Africa,” says Kwame Dawes, the founding director of African Poetry Book Fund that organises the Sillerman First Book Prize contest. f selecting a winning manuscript, African Poetry Book Fund founding director Kwame Dawes says, “Any winner of this prize can take a certain amount of pride in knowing that those judging it are poets of great accomplishment and people deeply committed to advocating for the highest standards in poetry from Africa.”
Three contestants–Omotara James, Gbenga Adesina and Henk Rossouw–received special mention for their work.
The Sillerman Prize is sponsored by US American philanthropists Laura and Robert FX Sillerman, whose generosity established and continues to support the work of the African Poetry Book Fund in its publishing and promotion of African poetry.
Meanwhile, African Poetry Book Fund and Prairie Schooner say they are currently accepting poetry and fiction manuscripts for the 2017 Prairie Schooner Book Prize till March 15, 2017.
“The Prairie Schooner Book Prize Series welcomes manuscripts from all living writers, including non-US citizens, writing in English,” the organisers say. “Winners will receive $3000 and publication through the University of Nebraska Press.”