The African Poetry Book Fund has named Kobus Moolman’s collection “A Book of Rooms” (Deep South, 2014) the winner of the 2015 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, which includes a $5,000 award.
The fund partners with the literary journal Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The entries were judged by award-winning poet and scholar Gabeba Baderoon.
“Moolman’s poems in this collection are electric, visceral, brilliantly experimental and profoundly moving,” Baderoon said.
Moolman described “A Book of Rooms” as an examination of his personal experiences “growing up as a white South African during apartheid” and “growing up and living with a disability (spina bifida),” facing domestic, psychological and physical violence. Each poem is named for and unfolds in the world of a specific room: The Room of Spillage, The Room of Maybe, The Room of Green and more. The book tells a single story across the linked poems in the collection, in what Moolman calls “a brave/foolhardy attempt to shake up the distinction between truth (fact) and fiction, between autobiography and invention. Karl Knausgard called this autobiographical fiction. I think of it as a form of lying that tells a deeper truth.”
Moolman lives in South Africa and has authored seven collections of poetry and several plays. He is the recipient of the Ingrid Jonker prize, the PANSA award, the South African Literary Award, the DALRO poetry prize and the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry award. He teaches creative writing at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Baderoon also selected two finalists: Joan Metelerkamp’s “Now the World Takes These Breaths” (Modjaji Books, 2014) and Togara Muzanenhamo’s “Gumiguru” (Carcanet Press, 2014). Christine Coates’ “Homegrown” (Modjaji Books, 2014) received honorable mention.
“These books felt thoughtfully shaped, rivetingly intelligent and superbly crafted,” Baderoon said. “I found them a pleasure and an education to read. Indeed, my horizons were vastly expanded by the extraordinarily well-realized poems in these collections.”
The African Poetry Book Fund, established through the generosity of Laura and Robert F. X. Sillerman and in partnership with Prairie Schooner, seeks to celebrate and cultivate the poetic arts of Africa.
The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, funded by literary philanthropist and poet Glenna Luschei and the only pan-African book prize of its kind, promotes African poetry written in English or in translation by recognizing a significant book published each year by an African poet. The 2016 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry will open to submissions of books by African poets published during 2015 on May 1, 2016. To learn more about the African Poetry Book Fund and its initiatives, click here.