August 23, 2022

Nigeria's Tares Oburumu wins 2022 Sillerman Prize for African Poets

Tares Oburumu

Tares Oburumu

The winner of the 2022 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets is Tares Oburumu for his collection “origins of the syma species.” Oburumu will receive a USD $1000 cash award and publication of his manuscript as part of the African Poetry Book Series by the University of Nebraska Press.

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, award-winning South African writer and performance artist, praised the collection, saying, “ ‘origins of the syma species’ conjures an intimacy which draws the reader below the surface of the known world ‘where curiosity animates.’” Of the inspiration driving his own work, Oburumu said: “The relative chaos we find in the origin of things is the beauty that binds us to our ancestral roots.”

The judging panel for the Sillerman Prize consists of the African Poetry Book Fund’s Editorial Board, including Chris Abani, Gabeba Baderoon, Bernardine Evaristo, Aracelis Girmay, John Keene, Matthew Shenoda and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, with Kwame Dawes, who also serves as director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Prairie Schooner’s editor-in-chief.

The Sillerman Prize was established in 2013 and supported by philanthropists Laura Sillerman and the late Robert FX Sillerman. Over the years, the prize, in partnership with the University of Nebraska Press, has celebrated the work of emerging African poets from across the continent and the diaspora.

Tares Oburumu lives in Yenagoa, the South Side of the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. He is the winner of GAP poetry prize. His works have appeared in Connotation Press, Bluepepper, Woven Tales Press, Afrocritik, Eunoia Review, and elsewhere.

The judges are also pleased to name the following manuscripts as finalists:

“Winged Witnesses” by Chisom Okafor of Nigeria “My First Country Was My Mother” by Afaq of Darfur, Sudan who currently resides in Philadelphia, USA

Oburumu is the tenth poet to win the annual Sillerman Prize, following Sherry Shenoda in 2021 for Mummy Eaters, Cheswayo Mphanza for The Rinehart Frames in 2020, and ‘Gbenga Adeoba in 2019 for Exodus. These books and more are available from the University of Nebraska Press as part of the African Poetry Book Series.

The African Poetry Book Fund sincerely thanks all the poets who submitted manuscripts to the Sillerman Prize. The 2023 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets will be open September 15 through December 1 to submissions of manuscripts by African poets who have not yet published a full-length collection.

Learn more about the African Poetry Book Fund and its initiatives. Stay connected on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.