Alert! Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire has become the first ever winner of the Brunel University African Poetry Prize, initiated by poet and novelist Bernardine Evaristo. This new prize is aimed at “the development and celebration of poetry from Africa” and open to poets “who have not yet published a full-length poetry collection”.
Warsan, chosen from a shortlist of six, achieved a level of fame after her poem “For Women Who Are Difficult to Love” went viral. She also published a pamphlet of poems called Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth in 2011.
The judges of the Brunel University African Poetry Prize, Sharmilla Beezmohun, Kwame Dawes, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Mpalive Msiska and Evaristo, were impressed by the “combination of substance, urgency, power and drama” in Warsan’s poetry. She will receive prize money of £3,000, funded by Brunel University, Commonwealth Writers and The Africa Centre UK.
Warsan Shire is a 24 year old Kenyan-born Somali poet and writer, based in London. Born in 1988, she has read her work all over Britain as well as in South Africa, Italy, Germany, Canada, North America and Kenya.
Her poetry pamphlet, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, was published in 2011 by flipped eye. Her poems have appeared in Wasafiri, Magma and Poetry Review and in the Salt Book of Younger Poets (Salt, 2011). They have been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
- Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire
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Image courtesy Sage – the blog