Brighton Festival artist Theresa Lola has won a prestigious Brunel International African Poetry Prize, scooping a major prize of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa. The Prize is sponsored by Brunel University London and the African Poetry Book Fund.
This year the judges decided to award the prize to the three poets they considered the most outstanding. Out of over 1,000 entries, the winners announced are Hiwot Adilow (Ethiopia), Theresa Lola (Nigeria), and Momtaza Mehri (Somalia). The trio will share the plaudits as joint winners, in keeping with the Prize’s project of supporting multiple voices from the African continent.
24-year-old Theresa (Nigeria) fought off stiff competition from over a thousand entrants, adding the prestigious title to her clutch of previous awards, including winner of Hammer and Tongue National Poetry Slam in 2017 and the London Magazine Poetry Prize 2016.Theresa is an alumna of the Barbican Young Poets programme. She was awarded an Arts Council/British Council International Development Grant to run poetry workshops at the Lagos International Poetry Festival in Nigeria in 2017. Theresa is also part of SXWKS creative collective and Octavia Women of Colour collective which is resident at the Southbank Centre in London. She is currently working on her debut full length poetry collection.
“Winning the Brunel International African Poetry Prize feels surreal, it is an unwavering highlight,” said Theresa Lola, who was first inspired to start writing poetry after a trip to the Lagos Poetry Festival when she was 12.
“To win the Brunel International African Poetry Prize feels like I am doing my job and responsibility as a poet and human in putting Africa forward where it rightly belongs.”
Brunel University London commented as follows: “This is an incredibly exciting time in the development of African poetry. We expect that many of the poets engaged in our impactful poetry initiatives will become the leading African poets of the future. Many of them are still very young, in their twenties, and we expect great things from them, but also those from poets who are older but still relatively new to publishing poetry. African poetry is now staking its claim on the global literary landscape. We are witnessing a quiet revolution.”
Theresa will be appearing at Brighton Festival as part of World Premiere & Brighton Festival Commission, Poets & Illustrators alongside Hollie McNish, Bridget Minamore and Toby Campion. For this one-off event, some of the finest, freshest poets around are paired with live illustrators for a sharp, straight-talking night of poetry, projection and experimental art exploring the theme ‘hard work’.
Poets & Illustrators takes place on the Sat 26 May at 8pm, at St Georges Church.