Inaugural Evaristo African Poetry Prize to open in October 2022

APBF logo and photo of Bernardine Evaristo

calendar icon December 13, 2021 by Siwar Masannat | African Poetry Book Fund

After 10 years of celebrating the work of emerging African poets, the Brunel International African Poetry Prize (BIAPP), formerly supported by Brunel University London, will be renamed the Evaristo African Poetry Prize. The Prize will be operated by the African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

A close partner of APBF, the Brunel International African Poetry Prize sought to “encourage a new generation of poets who might one day become an international presence.” Indeed, the excellence of BIAPP winners continues to be celebrated internationally as many of the poets have gone to publish chapbooks, full-length poetry collections, and win more prizes. 

The Brunel International African Poetry Prize recently closed its submission window and will announce the winner of the prize in May 2022. 

The Evaristo African Poetry Prize is named in honor of British writer Bernardine Evaristo, who founded BIAPP in 2012 and managed it for ten years, part-funding it herself along with contributions from Commonwealth Writers of the Commonwealth Foundation. A board member of APBF and Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London, Evaristo is the author of ten books of fiction, poetry, essays, drama, criticism, and journalism. Her work explores narratives and histories of the African diaspora through innovative aesthetic forms. 

Dr. Kwame Dawes, Director of the APBF, says: “There are a handful of gifted artists who have managed to model exceptional literary citizenship in their leadership, influence, and advocacy for greater openness in the arts, and Bernardine Evaristo represents the best of such individuals. Having this prize named after her honors her, but more than that, it honors the prize.”

The recipient of many awards and honors, Evaristo was the first Black woman and Black British person to win the Booker Prize in 2019 for her novel Girl, Woman, Other. She is also the first writer of color to serve as President of the Royal Society of Literature. Her lifetime fellowships include: Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, 2004; Honorary Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford University, 2020 and International Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2021.

Her first non-fiction book, Manifesto: On Never Giving Up, was recently published by Penguin UK in 2021 and is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic USA in 2022. 

The inaugural Evaristo African Poetry Prize will begin accepting submissions by African poets in October 2022.