Ehiorobo Derek, Kyle Okeke win Evaristo Prize for African Poetry 2024

Ehiorobo Derek, Kyle Okeke are Evaristo Prize for African Poetry 2024 joint winners

Ehiorobo Derek and Kyle Okeke were declared joint-winners of the Evaristo Prize for African Poetry 2024 on Friday, May 31, 2024.

The Brunel International African Poetry Prize, founded by Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo, was started in 2012 to revitalise African poetry and encourage a new generation of poets to get an international platform. Previous winners have been Warsan Shire (2013), Liyou Libsekal (2014), Safia Elhillo and Nick Makoha (2015), Gbenga Adesina and Chekwube O. Danladi (2016), Romeo Oriogun (2017), Momtaza Mehri, Theresa Lola, and Hiwot Adilow (2018), Nadra Mabrouk and Jamila Osman (2019), Rabha Ashry (2020), and Othuke Umukoro (2021).  Gracia Mwamba and Feranmi Ariyo won the first edition of the renamed award in 2023.

The jury of Gabeba Baderoon, Tjawangwa Dema, and Mahtem Shiferraw announced the shortlist on April 15 before the joint winners were revealed on Friday. The winners are And God Said, Ehiorobo Derek and Butterflies, Kyle Okeke.

Of Ehiorobo’s work, they said: “In these poems is an unguarded tenderness wielded so delicately and resonantly that the speaker becomes a point of translation whom we sometimes even forget exists. This delicacy of touch courses through line after line and contains the grief–within, within.”

Regarding Okeke’s poems, the judges noted: “There is an exquisite sense of expansiveness and restraint in these poems. So much is carried here in language that is centered and succinct. Marked by images of astonishing beauty and power, ‘Butterflies’ crafts an intimate and undaunted poetic voice. This collection of ten poems is a profoundly moving poetic achievement.”

The judges also gave one honorable mention: chisaraokwu.

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