Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Brunel University African Poetry Prize - Shortlist

PRESS RELEASE                                                                         31st January 2013

The Brunel University African Poetry Prize is a major new poetry prize of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa. The prize is sponsored by Brunel University and partnered by Commonwealth Writers, the Africa Centre UK, and the African Poetry Book Fund USA.
The judges of the Prize have now decided on a shortlist for the prize which is for immediate release.

Good luck to the shortlisted poets. I know, and hope, this is just the beginning of your career even if you don't end up being the winner.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Clifton Gachagua is the winner of the 2013 Sillerman First Book Prize.

"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."

The famous Ghanaian-born Jamaican-American poet, Kwame Dawes, praises the manuscript thus:
"I believe this is an original voice. This manuscript achieves what is necessary in African poetry: it feels as African as Africanness can be, and wholly contemporary and in our moment.”
Congratulations to you, Clifton.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets

Those who entered for the 2012 The Sillerman First Book for African Poets must have by now received an email informing them of the winner of the prize: Clifton Gachugua. In their email, they must have read that Mr. Gachugua's manuscript: " achieves what is necessary in African poetry: it feels as African as Africanness can be, and wholly contemporary and in our moment."

Here is the reaction of one of my fellow losers to Clifton Gachuga, Joe Mgani.
"This information came to me in an email from The Sillerman First Book for African Poets informing me that I had not won the poetry prize for which I had submitted my poems, that I had lost it to Clifton Gachagua and they went ahead to heap lots of praise to his collection saying  those things that poetry critics say about poetry collections that are as cryptic as the poems themselves and that do very little to explain the poems to a poetry layman and that create a delighting confusion in heads like mine."


Thursday, January 17, 2013


What is poetry? How does it work?

"One morning, I cut my fingernails and left the parings on the centre table in the sitting room and went into my bedroom briefly to return my manicure set to its usual place. She had been in her room while I cut the nails and had obviously come into the sitting room while I was in my room. As I returned to the sitting room she approached me, exultant, with one of the parings between her right thumb and forefinger, holding up the cut fingernail, and declared: “Daddy, this is the moon!”
“That is not the moon!” I interjected. “It is my fingernail paring.”
“No! It is the moon.” She insisted, raising the paring toward my face as if to show me the shape of the moon in case I did not know."

Ikeogu Oke provides some helpful insights.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Jeyifo: First, There Was A Country; Then There Wasn’t: Reflections On Achebe’s New Book (2)

 An interesting take on Chinua Achebe's memoir of the Nigerian Civil war, "There Was a Country," by Professor Biodun Jeyifo of Harvard University.

"IF in There Was A Country “a Nigerian ruling class” only appears in the narratives and reflections of the author in the final fourth part of the book, this is only the most stunning aspect of the general intellectual and discursive architecture of the book. This “architecture”, this “grammar” is none other than the fact that for nearly all other parts of the book with the exception of that concluding fourth part, all of Achebe’s “explanations”, all of his speculations in the book are relentlessly driven by ethnicity, and a very curious conception of ethnicity for that matter. Logically, inevitably, the corollary to this is that “explanations” and speculations based on class, and more specifically on intra-class and inter-class factors, are either completely ignored or even deliberately excluded. As I shall presently demonstrate, this is a remarkable departure from virtually all of Achebe’s writings prior to this recently published book. For now, let me illustrate this startling matter of the complete subsumption of class into ethnicity in There Was A Country with two particularly telling examples out of innumerable other instances in the book."