Isele Prizes 2024 winners announced.

Isele Prizes 2024 winners announced.

Gloria Mwaniga, Alex Leslie, and Erinola Daranijo won in their categories at the Isele Prizes 2024; the announcement was made on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

The Isele Prizes were founded to celebrate the best of short stories, poetry, and essays by writers published in the Ukamaka Olisakwe founded Isele Magazine in 2022. They are split into three categories of – short stories, poetry, and essays, and each category is judged by a panel of two judges. The winners in the first edition were Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo, Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike, and Nora Nneka. The winners in 2023 were Ashia Ajani, Jennifer Dickinson, and Chinonso Nzeh.

For 2024, the jury looked through 190 works in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and selected the longlist on Wednesday, March 6 before the shortlist was made public on April 8. The winners this year are;

The Isele Nonfiction Prize

Jury citation: In A Few More Words About Breasts, Gloria Mwaniga chronicles her fascinating journey through puberty to adulthood. She recalls her amazement at the changes in her body, particularly with her breasts, and how this transformation initially rang like betrayal to her young mind because of the shame it stirred, the limitations it appeared enforce, and the intrusive attention it drew. She became intensely aware of the heaviness of language, how quickly words and gestures take on new meanings, especially when associated with matters of the body. People began to look at her differently, women had advice to give; society generally did what society often did: it had so much to say to the girl who only wanted to live a free and beautiful life. Ultimately, this memoir is a gorgeous story of acceptance, of growth and self-love, and also of the things we should do better when we talk about puberty. Isele Magazine is honored to give a home to this essay.

Gloria Mwaniga said on X, “Thrilled to have won the Isele Nonfiction Prize! Grateful to the @IseleMagazine team, and to all who read, engage with, and continue to support us writers in this journey.”

The Isele Poetry Prize

Jury citation: At the height of great injustice and unrest, Erinola Daranijo’s poems on resistance bring us hope. His poems resonate with a remarkable intensity, capturing the essence of resilience, defiance, and the relentless pursuit of justice. Set around protests against police brutality, “Epiphany of Roses”, “If One Must Resist, They Do So Together”, and “My Brother Falls, But I Refuse to Follow” give powerful commentary on collective resistance against oppression. The poems capture the electrifying energy of the protesters and the hope that drives them despite the constant threat of violence and suppression. Erinola’s ability to intertwine personal and collective experiences makes the poems even more heartfelt and compelling. The poems offer a vivid portrayal of the complexities of struggle and the timely reminder that hope, though intangible, sustains the spirit of resistance. Isele Magazine is honored to give a home to these poems.

Erinola Daranijo tweeted, “Ahhhh, Mummy come and seeeee 😭🥹”

Isele Short Story Prize

Jury citation: Propane, Propane is a masterpiece—one of the rarest kinds of stories, the kind that instantly draws you in—and you recognize that something very special is happening. This is not just another father/son story. A blaze of metaphors lifts an already nuanced plot effortlessly with a wakeful language and tone. The characterization pops with a lyrical freshness, opening a new world, one that is both unfamiliar and yet feels like it was ours all along. Isele Magazine is honored to give a home to this story.

Alex Leslie tweeted, “Glad to hear today my story “Propane, Propane” has won Isele’s prize for the best story in their journal this year. Thank u to the editors. Short fiction forever!!!!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼”

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