The African Poetry Book Fund promotes and advances the development and publication of the poetic arts through its book series, contests, workshops, and seminars and through its collaborations with publishers, festivals, booking agents, colleges, universities, conferences and all other entities that share an interest in the poetic arts of Africa. We are committed to seeking the resources to support this mission and to ensure that all its efforts are carried out with excellence.
Established through the generosity of Laura and Robert F.X. Sillerman, the APBF promotes the writing and publication of African poetry through an international complex of additional collaborations and partnerships.
KWAME DAWES establishes the APBF forming a solid partnership with Prairie Schooner and appoints the Prairie Schooner Managing Editor Marianne Kunkel as the first Managing Editor of the African Poetry Book Fund. BERNADINE EVARISTO in the UK establishes the Brunel African Poetry Prize, and the APBF becomes an official partner of the prize. PHILANTHROPIST LAURA SILLERMAN adds her support to the APBF. THE APBF EDITORIAL TEAM is formed, as Matthew Shenoda, Bernardine Evaristo, John Keene and Gabeba Baderoon agree to join Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani to carry out the work of the APBF.
GHANAIAN POET KOFI AWOONOR agrees to be published as the first of the African Poetry Classics Series. CLIFTON GACHAGUA of Kenya is named the inaugural winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. APBF is launched at AWP in Boston.
LADAN OSMAN is named the 2014 winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. TWO BOOKS, Kofi Awoonor’s New and Selected: The Promise of Hope (UNP) and Clifton Gachagua’s Madman at Kilifi (UNP) are launched alongside the first chapbook box set, Seven New Generation African Poets (Slapering Hol) at AWP in Seattle. AKASHIC BOOKS becomes the new publishing partner for theNew-Generation African Poets chapbook box set series. A DONATION from Glenna Luschei leads to the establishment of the Luschei Prize for African Poetry. APBF LIBRARIES PROJECT, a collaboration with UNL Libraries, is launched with libraries opening up in five sites in Botswana, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, and the Gambia. ASHLEY STROSNIDER, the new managing editor of Prairie Schooner, assumes role as Managing Editor of APBF.
MAHTEM SHIFERRAW is named winner of the 2015 Sillerman Prize for African Poets. THE INAUGURAL GLENNA LUSCHEI PRIZE FOR AFRICAN POETRY, judged by Chris Abani, is awarded to amu nnadi’s through the window of a sandcastle. EIGHT NEW-GENERATION AFRICAN POETS: A CHAPBOOK BOX SET (Akashic) is released at AWP in Minneapolis, alongside Ladan Osman’s The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (UNP). APBF IS SHORTLISTED for the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize and attends ceremony in NYC.
SAFIA ELHILLO is named the winner of 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. THE GLENNA LUSCHEI PRIZE FOR AFRICAN POETRY, judged by Gabeba Baderoon, is awarded to Kobus Moolman’s Book of Rooms. MAHTEM SHIFERRAW’s Fuchsia (UNP), Gabriel Okara’s Collected Poems (UNP), and the third in box set series, New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Tatu) (Akashic) are launched at AWP in Los Angeles. APBF ESTABLISHES THE AFRICAN POETRY DIGITAL PORTAL PROJECT and embarks on partnerships with key organizations. HOSTED BY THE FORD FOUNDATION in New York City, the APBF Anthology Editorial team, including Dawes, Abani, Shenoda, and Evaristo are joined by Tsitsi Jaji, Helen Yitah, Major Jackson, and Lokangaka Losambe, to work on anthology. APBF CELEBRATES the first titles in the Contemporary African Poetry Book Series: Mukoma wa Ngugi’s Logotherapy (UNP ) and Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s When the Wanderers Come Home (UNP). PHILLIPPA YA DE VILLIERS AND ARACELIS GIRMAY join APBF Editorial Team.
BERNARD MATAMBO is named winner of 2017 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. THE GLENNA LUSCHEI PRIZE FOR AFRICAN POETRY, judged by Matthew Shenoda, is awarded to Rethabile Masilo’s Waslap. SAFIA ELHILLO’s The January Children (UNP), New- Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Nne) (Akashic), including a record ten poets and featuring nine women poets, Ama Ata Aidoo’s Collected Poems, After the Ceremonies (UNP), and Tsiti Ella Jaji’s Beating the Graves (UNP) are launched at AWP in DC. UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA CENTER FOR DIGITAL RESEARCH AND HUMANITIES begins work on Contemporary African Poetry Index. LEN VERWEY’s In a Language that You Know (UNP) is published. THE FIRST TITLE IN TRANSLATION in the African Poetry Book Series, Think of Lampedusa by Josué Guébo (UNP), translated from the French by Todd Fredson, is published.
TJAWANGA DEMA is named winner of 2018 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. THE GLENNA LUSCHEI PRIZE FOR AFRICAN POETRY, judged by John Keene, is awarded to Juliane Okot Bitek’s 100 Days. BERNARD MATAMBO’s Stray (UNP), New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Tano) (Akashic), and Tanella Boni’s The Future Has an Appointment with the Dawn, translated from the French by Todd Fredson, are launched at AWP in Tampa.
‘GBENGA ADEOBA is named winner of the 2019 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. THE GLENNA LUSCHEI PRIZE FOR AFRICAN POETRY, judged by Bernardine Evaristo, is awarded to Koleka Putuma’s Collective Amnesia. TJAWANGA DEMA’s The Careless Seamstress (UNP), Mahtem Shiferraw’s Your Body is War (UNP), New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Sita) (Akashic), and the first translated anthology, Modern Sudanese Poetry: An Anthology, edited by Adil Babikir, are launched at AWP in Portland.
CHESWAYO MPHANZA is named winner of the 2020 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. THE GLENNA LUSCHEI PRIZE FOR AFRICAN POETRY, judged by Aracelis Girmay, is awarded to mangaliso buzani’s a naked bone. THE FIRST PHASE of the African Poetry Digital Portal goes live. ‘GBENGA AEDOBA’s Exodus (UNP), Thabile Makue’s mamaseko (UNP), Romeo Oriogun’s Sacrament of Bodies (UNP), are launched virtually in the spring. New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Tano) (Akashic) is launched in a virtual event presented by the Center for Fiction with Poets’ House in September.
SHERRY SHENODA is named winner of the 2021 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. THE GLENNA LUSCHEI PRIZE FOR AFRICAN POETRY, judged by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, is awarded to Maneo Mohale for their book, Everything is a Dealthy Flower. SADDIQ DZUKOGI’s Your Crib, My Qibla (UNP) and Cheswayo Mphanza’s The Rhinehart Frames (UNP) are launched virtually in the spring. NANE: NEW-GENERATION AFRICAN POETS: A CHAPBOOKS BOXSET (Akashic) is launched in a virtual event at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in September. SIWAR MASANNAT joins APBF as Managing Editor. APBF announces the EVARISTO AFRICAN POETRY PRIZE to honor the legacy of our partnership with the BIAPP, due to have its final iteration in 2022. KWAME DAWES and LORNA DAWES are awarded a $750,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant for the development of the second phase of the African Poetry Digital Portal.