The winner of the 2023 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets is Abu Bakr Sadiq for his collection “Leaked Footages.” Sadiq will receive a $1000 cash award and publication of his manuscript as part of the African Poetry Book Series by the University of Nebraska Press.
The judging panel for the Sillerman Prize consists of the African Poetry Book Fund’s Editorial Board, including Chris Abani, Gabeba Baderoon, Bernadine Evaristo, Aracelis Girmay, John Keene, Matthew Shenoda, and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, with Kwame Dawes, Director of the African Poetry Book Fund and the Schooner’s Editor-in-Chief. The Sillerman Prize was established in 2013 and supported by philanthropists Laura Sillerman and the late Robert F.X. Sillerman. Over the years, the prize, in partnership with the University of Nebraska Press, has celebrated the work of emerging African poets from across the continent and diaspora.
Award-winning author and translator John Keene praised “Leaked Footages,” writing that the manuscript’s “Afrofuturist, speculative approach, conveyed by a Nigerian Muslim speaker, feels refreshing and suggests a distinctive, compelling perspective.”
Abu Bakr Sadiq is a Nigerian poet born and raised in Minna. He is currently an undergraduate student at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Sadiq is the winner of the 2022 IGNYTE award for Best Speculative Poetry and a finalist for the 2023 Evaristo Prize for African Poetry. His work has been nominated for the SFPA Rhysling Award and for a Pushcart Prize, and has been published in Boston Review, The Fiddlehead, MIZNA, FIYAH, Palette Poetry, Uncanny Magazine, Augur Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, and elsewhere.
The judges are also pleased to name the following manuscripts as finalists:
“Tresspass” by Jamila Osman (Somalia)
“Year of Blood” by Adedayo Agarau (Nigeria)
“Our Weary Talons” by Gracia Mwamba (Congo)
Sadiq is the eleventh poet to win the annual Sillerman Prize, following Tares Oburumu in 2022 for origins of the syma species, Sherry Shenoda in 2021 for Mummy Eaters, and Cheswayo Mphanza in 2020 for The Rinehart Frames. These books and more are available from the University of Nebraska Press as part of the African Poetry Book Series.
The African Poetry Book Fund sincerely thanks all the poets who submitted manuscripts to the Sillerman Prize. The 2024 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets will be open September 15 through December 1 to submissions of manuscripts by African poets who have not yet published a full-length collection.
To support the work of the African Poetry Book Fund, visit https://africanpoetrybf.unl.edu/support-apbf/.