by Brita Thielen
Amu nnadi’s collection through the window of a sandcastle (Origami Books/Parrésia Publishers Ltd; 2013) has been named the winner of the inaugural Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry by the African Poetry Book fund, established through the generosity of Laura Sillerman and in partnership with the literary journalPrairie Schooner.
Funded by literary philanthropist and poet Glenna Luschei, the Glenna Luschei Prize is a unique pan-African poetry prize established to promote African poetry written in English or in translation by recognizing a significant book published each year by an African poet. Each year, an internationally-renowned poet judges the prize. This year’s judge was award-winning poet and novelist Chris Abani.
Abani says that in reading through the window of a sandcastle, “We come face to face with a truly original voice” that “creates new metaphors, new spaces of being, and new cartographies of the African soul. There are traces here of Christopher Okigbo’s striking vision and voice, of Eliot’s sense of epic, of Walcott’s ability to turn quotidian diction into a song of light, and yet a melancholy, a brilliance, a dance that is all original, all amu nnadi.” Abani calls the poems themselves poems of “remarkable lyric grace” with “a capacious imagination.”
Kwame Dawes, Director of the African Poetry Book Fund, commented on Abani’s selection by saying, “One never knows what will emerge with these contests, so it is extremely exciting to see this remarkable book by amu nnadi as the inaugural winner of the Glenna Luschei African Book Prize. Our hope is that the prize, will, in some small way, draw greater attention to a writer and a book that deserves to be read by lovers of poetry the world over.”
Uzor Maxim Uzoatu has written, “amu nnadi is the most sensitive of poets. Like Pablo Neruda, he delves deftly into the innermost of emotions.” Parrésia Publishers Ltd.’s Richard Ali calls the book “annoyingly brilliant.”
amu nnadi describes the moment he discovered poetry as finding “…a world filled with magic. I was captive. I think I am one of poetry’s happiest prisoners.” He continues, “Poetry fulfills and satisfies my compulsions and wildness….I write because I love poetry immensely. It is my life now.”
amu nnadi is a Nigerian poet and the author of two collections of poems in addition to through the window of a sandcastle: the fire within, winner of the 2002 Association of Nigeria Authors’ Prize for Poetry, and pilgrim’s passage, shortlisted for the 2005 Nigeria Prize for Literature. through the window of a sandcastle is a winner of the 2013 ANA Poetry Prize and runner-up to the 2013 Nigeria Prize for Literature. Listen to amu nnadi read his poem “ashes” fromthrough the window of a sandcastle here.
Copies of through the window of a sandcastle may be purchased online through Amazon.
APBF would like to sincerely thank all the poets and publishers who submitted books to the Glenna Luschei Prize.