Out Of Africa: Nigerian Writer Romeo Oriogun Shortlisted For 2024 Derek Walcott Prize For Poetry

Nigerian writer Romeo Oriogun has been included in this year’s shortlist for the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry.

Oriogun made the 15-man shortlist for his poetry collection The Gathering of Bastards, published in 2023 by the University of Nebraska Press. 

“So happy to announce that The Gathering of Bastards is on the shortlist for The Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry”, he said of the announcement.

Oriogun is a U.S.-based poet and essayist. He is the winner of the 2022 NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature and the 2017 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. He has also been shortlisted for the Lambda Award for Poetry and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Oriogun has received fellowships and support from Harvard University, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Oregon Institute for Creative Research, and the IIE- Artist Protection Fund. He currently lives in Ames where he is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Iowa State University.

The Gathering of Bastards is Oriogun’s sophomore offering following his debut Sacrament of Bodies (University of Nebraska Press, 2020). The collection chronicles the movement of migrants as they navigate borders both internal and external. At the heart of these poems of vulnerability and sharp intelligence, the poet himself is the perpetual migrant embarked on forced journeys that take him across nations in West and North Africa, through Europe, and through American cities as he navigates the challenges of living through terror and loss and wrestles with the meaning of home.

In recent years, Oriogun has proved his mettle as one of the finest ambassadors for a generation of young, irreverent, convention-defying African poets. His poetry explores migration, sexuality and the conversations surrounding black bodies. His next book, The Mystic of Small Dreams, will be published by Nigerian publisher Masobe Books in October.

Launched in 2019, the annual Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry is powered by Arrowsmith Press, in partnership with The Derek Walcott Festival in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. It is awarded to a full-length book of poems by a living poet who is not a U.S. citizen, published in the previous calendar year. The book must be in English or in English translation and may have been published anywhere in the world.

The prize includes a $2,000 cash award. In the case of translations, the prize money may be shared by the poet and the translator.

This year’s prize will be judged by esteemed writer Diane Mehta, whose work has been recognized by the Peter Heinegg Literary Award, the Café Royal Cultural Foundation, and fellowships at Civitella Ranieri and Yaddo. The winner will be announced on 15 October.Click here to learn more about the prize.

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