In the realm of poetry, the power of words knows no bounds. It’s a universal language that transcends borders, cultures, and time. And when it comes to African poetry, the voices are as diverse and vibrant as the continent itself. The Pengician Poetry Chapbook Prize, established in 2020 by Jaachị Anyatọnwụ, the Founding Editor of Poemify Publishers, stands as a beacon, celebrating and nurturing the rising stars of African poetry.
The Pengician Poetry Chapbook Prize is an annual celebration of the uncharted poetic talent that Africa has to offer. It is a platform that recognizes the potential of previously unpublished African poets, providing them with the opportunity to leave an indelible mark on the literary world. With each passing year, this prestigious award seeks to amplify the voices of these young African poets, encourage the growth of their literary skills, and showcase the richness and diversity of African literary traditions.
The 2023 Shortlist of the Pengician Poetry Chapbook Prize
After careful consideration and rigorous evaluation, the judges for the 2023 Pengician Poetry Chapbook Prize—Ugwu Leonard, Iwu Jeff, and Maxwell Opia-Enwemuche—have selected a shortlist that exemplifies the depth and creativity of African poetry. These two chapbook titles have not only dazzled with their poetic prowess but have also shown the promise to take the literary world by storm:
1. JONZING AND JUICING
Love is the most explored theme in our age; it can be seen and felt in almost every place and thing. In ‘Jonze and Juicing’, the poet explores love in the similitude of ‘tea’, ‘coffee’ and ‘drink’.
2. TWICE THE SIZE OF SUN
An allusion to the tragedy of hiroshima that claim multitudes with a single sway, underlined, with the wars ideological differences beget in various parts of the world.
These chapbooks have emerged from the pool of exceptional entries, each with its unique narrative and poetic charm. They are a testament to the extraordinary talent that the Pengician Poetry Chapbook Prize aims to foster and celebrate.
A Note by Iwu Jeff
I had the privilege of serving as a judge for the Pengician Poetry Chapbook Prize, and I must say that this year’s submissions were nothing short of remarkable. The task of selecting the top two works from such a talented pool of poets proved to be a challenging yet immensely rewarding endeavour.
First Place: Jonzing and Juicing
The collection Jonzing and Juicing emerged as the standout work, and it secures the first position with a well-deserved score of 70%. Several factors contributed to this selection:
Imagery and Metaphors: The poet displays an exceptional ability to paint vivid pictures with words. The poems utilise striking imagery and metaphors that transport readers to different realms of emotion and experience.
Advanced Use of Language: The language of the poems demonstrates a mastery of poetic expression, enriching the overall reading experience.
Chronological Arrangement of Theme: The chronological arrangement of themes within the chapbook exhibits the poet’s deliberate and thoughtful approach to storytelling, drawing readers into a coherent narrative journey.
Consistent Poetic Structure: The collection maintains a consistent and engaging poetic structure that creates rhythm and depth in the poems; this keeps the reader captivated.
Effective Use of Literary Devices: The poet skillfully employs various literary devices to enhance the impact of the collaboration, showcasing a deep understanding of poetic craftsmanship.
Rhythmic Nature: The rhythmic quality of the poems contributed to the overall musicality of the collection, making it a joy to read aloud and savour.
Inspiring and Interesting Nature: Jonzing and Juicing not only inspires readers but also engages them with its thought-provoking contents, leaving a lasting impression.
Clarity and Concise Message: The clarity and conciseness of the poems allow for a direct and impactful communication of the poet’s message.
Brevity of Poems: The brevity of the poems, while maintaining depth, showcases the poet’s ability to distil powerful emotions and ideas into succinct verses.
Second Place: Twice the Size of the Sun
The collection, Twice the Size of the Sun, secures the second position with a commendable score of 65%. This collection exhibits several notable qualities:
Use of Imagery and Metaphors: Similar to the first-place collection, Twice the Size of the Sun, employs imagery and metaphors effectively to create a rich and evocative reading experience.
Advanced Use of Language: The poet demonstrates a command of language that elevates the poems and adds layers of meaning.
Consistent Poetic Structure: The consistent structure within the chapbook provides a sense of cohesion and allows readers to navigate its diverse styles seamlessly.
Experimentation with Style: Twice the Size of the Sun boldly ventures into different styles, showcasing a willingness to push the boundaries of poetic expression.
In conclusion, the two collections, Jonzing and Juicing, and Twice the Size of the Sun, are exceptional collections, deserving of recognition. Congratulations to all the poets who submitted their work to the Pengician Poetry Chapbook Prize. Your contributions to the world of literature are truly inspiring, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to assess these exceptional works.
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As we prepare to unveil the winners of the 2023 prize, we invite you to join us in celebrating the art of African poetry and the remarkable voices that continue to shape the literary landscape. The future of African literature is bright, and the Pengician Poetry Chapbook Prize is proud to play a part in nurturing the next generation of literary giants. Stay tuned as we announce the winners who will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the world of poetry.