Today in our poetry news round-up we take a look at some more of the well-known voices bringing poetry to the Today programme. We also have an article about the shortlist for this years African Poetry Prize.
In a continuation of our previous article about the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, we bring you some more of the best-known voices who have been reading poetry that means something to them as part of the #comfortandhope series.
3rd April saw Jeremy Bowen the Middle East Editor reading the poem Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas. The poem has special significance to Bowen it hung in his childhood home and bring back special memories of his father.
Yesterday it was the turn of Katya Adler, the Europe Editor, to read a poem. She was joined by her daughter Sofia and together they read Brian Patten’s The Stolen Orange. Adler said that the poem reminded her of the simple things that we can surround ourselves with that might give us some comfort, it also reminds her of her late father.
African Poetry Prize Shortlist
The shortlist has been announced for this year’s Brunel International African Poetry Prize. There are 6 emerging poets on the shortlist for the £3000 prize, which was set up to inspire and highlight new poetry from Africa.
The competition was inaugurated eight years ago in 2012 and this year saw a staggering 1000 entries; double the amount it received in the first year. One of last year’s co-winners of the prize was from Egypt and this year the competition saw a big rise in entries from North Africa.
The shortlist is made up of poets from Zambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Mauritius and two Egyptians and is overwhelmingly dominated by women; with five women and just one man making the list.
The founder of the prize is Professor Bernadine Evaristo who was a joint Booker Prize winner in 2019 with Margaret Atwood. When she had the idea for the prize, African poetry was almost non-existent on the international literary scene. However, now it is thriving. There are many poets out there making their poetry heard all over the world.
The prize is backed by Brunel University where Evaristo teaches creative writing. It is open to any African poet from anywhere in the world who has not already published a complete poetry collection. Anyone wishing to enter is required to submit a total of 10 poems in order to meet the eligibility requirements. Judging is undertaken by a panel made up of academics and fellow poets.
Previous winners of the prize have included the Somalian poet Warsan Shire who won in 2013 and has since gone on to work with the singer Beyonce on the album Lemonade, and Romeo Oriogun the openly gay Nigerian poet who is now a fellow at Harvard University.
The judges will now be looking at the works by each of the shortlisted poets in detail and the winner of the 2020 African Poetry Prize will be announced on 4th May.