Zimbabwean poet Togara Muzanenhamo has been named the winner of the African Poetry Book Fund’s 2022 Luschei Prize for African Poetry for his collection, “Virga.”
Author Matthew Shenoda judged this year’s prize, which annually awards $1,000 to a book of poetry by an African writer published in the previous year.
“Virga” by Muzanenhamo is a collection of poems that reify an age-old truth: the past is not past; and like the elements we experience, the events that once were, linger in the air we occupy now,” Shenoda said of “Virgo.” “Borderless in his interests, Muzanenhamo explores moments both intimate and public, known and unknown, staking claim to the expansive notions of what it means to be of or from a place. Muzanenhamo’s poems travel like the weather and show the ways both ‘here’ and ‘there’ are always present. He is a poet with a broad gift for craft and a thinking that resists being placed in any single frame.”
Muzanenhamo was born in Zambia and brought up in Zimbabwe. He has studied in France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. His poems have appeared widely in international journals and magazines. His debut poetry collection, “Spirit Brides,” was shortlisted for the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. An Irish Times Best Poetry Books of the Year and a Poetry Society Autumn Recommendation, “Virga” is Muzanenhamo’s fourth collection of poetry. He lives in Norton, Zimbabwe, on his family’s farm.
“Virga” is available for purchase online from carcanet.co.uk and bookstores that carry Carcanet Poetry titles.
In addition to the winning book, Shenoda named three finalists: “The Moral Judgement of Butterflies” by K. Eltinaé, “An/Other Pastoral” by Tjawanwa Dema, and “The River in the Belly” by Fiston Mwanza Mujila.
“Eltinaé, Dema and Mujila remain testaments of the incredibly diverse and polyphonic aesthetics of contemporary African poetry and the incredibly rich landscapes they create,” Shenoda said. “In each of their works we see the ways a poet can weave the knotted and complex realities of race, geography, gender and language moving across time and space to articulate what it means to be alive in the slipstreams of history and migration.”
The African Poetry Book fund is directed by Kwame Dawes, George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner.
The Luschei Prize for African Poetry, funded by literary philanthropist and poet Glenna Luschei and the only pan-African book prize of its kind, and promotes African poetry written in English or in translation by recognizing a significant book published each year by an African poet.
The 2023 Luschei Prize for African Poetry will open to submissions of books by African poets published during 2022 on May 1.