Cheswayo Mphanza Named Winner of 2019 Sillerman Prize
The winner of this year’s Sillerman Prize is Cheswayo Mphanza for his manuscript The Rinehart Frames. Mphanza was born in Lusaka, Zambia, and raised in Chicago, Illinois.
“What the African Poetry Book Fund has always symbolized to me is a conversation among diasporas—which has always been my obsession as a writer and as a participant in the human experience,” Mphanza said via email, when we asked him to reflect on his feelings about winning the prize. “To echo and reverberate the voices of so many past and present writers whose concerns were to sustain histories, cultures, and people. I am profoundly grateful that this is the platform in which I can make my introduction in continuing that tradition.”
Cheswayo Mphanza‘s work has previously appeared in the New England Review, New Orleans Review, American Literary Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Vinyl, Prairie Schooner, RHINO, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Callaloo, Columbia University, and Cave Canem. A finalist for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize and a recipient of the 2017 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers, he earned his MFA from Rutgers-Newark.
The Rinehart Frames will be published by the University of Nebraska Press. Congratulations to Mphanza as well as this year’s finalists: Hazem Fahmy (Egypt/US) for the manuscript Id, O-Jeremiah Agbaakin (Nigeria) for the manuscript The Root of the Word Babble is Babel, and El Habib Louai (Morocco) for the manuscript Rotten Wounds Embalmed with Tar.