Submit for the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets

Poetry Potion | October 3rd, 2012 | poetry seen | No Comments

The African Poetry Book Fund and Series is currently accepting submissions for the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets.  The winner of this major book award will receive $1000 and publication through the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal, making it one of the first publications of the new African Poetry Book Series.

Philanthropists Laura and Robert F. X. Sillerman have welcomed the use of their name for the prize, having generously helped make the APBF possible through their contributions. Laura Sillerman is the president of The Tomorrow Foundation and an Advisory Board Member of the APBF. She describes the importance of the first book series for African poets:

“It is unthinkable that there hasn’t been an African Poetry Book Series in the English-speaking world until now. As we know, true poetry is as much music as it is language and as much rhythm as it is form. Language, music, rhythm, form. Those words are the birthright of the African people and creating a literary home for them is this project’s vision for and promise to the poets and people of that continent.”

Kwame Dawes, Guggenheim Fellow and winner of the 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, is the Series Editor of the African Poetry Book Series has announced that the winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize will be one of four new titles by African poets to be published each year beginning in January 2014.

The winner of the Sillerman Prize will be represented by Blue Flower Arts, a booking agency based in the US, who will work with the winner to design a tour to promote the winning book.


  • Eligibility: The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets will only accept “first book” submissions from African writers who have not published a book-length poetry collection. This includes self-published books if they were sold online, in stores, or at readings. An “African writer” is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, who is a national or resident of an African country, or whose parents are African. Only poetry written in English is eligible, although translated poetry will be accepted and a percentage of the prize awarded to the translator.
  • When to send: Manuscripts will be accepted between September 15th and November 15th.
  • Manuscript: Poetry manuscripts should be at least 50 pages long. The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript. All entries will be read anonymously. Include a cover page listing only the title of the manuscript. You may submit more than one manuscript.
  • Fee: There is no entry fee for this contest.
  • Notification: The winner will be announced on the African Poetry Book Fund website on or before January 1.

The African Poetry Book Fund

The African Poetry Book Fund promotes and advances the development and publication of the African poetic arts through its book series, contests, workshops, and seminars and through its collaborations with publishers, festivals, booking agents, colleges, universities, conferences and all other entities that share an interest in the poetic arts of Africa.  The Fund is a collaboration between several key entities including the University of Nebraska Press and Prairie Schooner literary journal, Amalion Publishing, Brunel University, Open Road Integrated Media, and Blue Flower Arts.

The Fund will, through the Series and other projects, promote the writing and publication of African poetry through an international complex of additional collaborations and partnerships.  The Fund and its partners will offer support for seminars, workshops and other publishing opportunities for African poets.

Be sure to stay tuned to Prairie Schooner’s website, blog, Facebook and Twitter for updates on this enterprising Series. Additional information is available at the website of the African Poetry Book Fund, as well as on the Brunel University African Poetry Prize website:

Kwame Dawes is an award winning poet, novelist, playwright, anthologist, musician and critic and the author of over thirty-five books, including sixteen books of poetry, the most recent being, Wheels, (Peepal Tree Press 2011).  He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a faculty member of the Pacific MFA program in Oregon.  His many awards include the Forward Poetry Prize, an Emmy for his reporting on HIV AIDS in Jamaica, the Barnes and Nobles Writers for Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is Associate Poetry Editor of Peepal Tree Press and co-founder and Program Director of Calabash International Literary Festival.   His collection Duppy Conqueror, New and Selected Poems will be published by Copper Canyon in 2013.

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