South African poet Mangaliso Buzani has been announced as the winner of the African Poetry Book Fund’s 2019 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, for his collection a naked bone (Deep South Press).
The Glenna Luschei Prize is awarded annually to a book of poetry by an African writer published in the previous year. The winner receives $1000 (about R18,400)
American poet Aracelis Girmay, who judged this year’s prize, says of Buzani’s winning book:
‘It is a stunningly organised collection, and the poems in the sections read as curations inside of curations, thus pushing the reader through the landscapes of individual poems but also the distinct and particular gatherings of each of the book’s five sections.
‘In a naked bone the bed sings, the speaker reads to frogs, the moon is seated in a dark chair of clouds. These poems emerge out of loss, reckoning, and heartache, among other things, and yet they are built out of a spacious, restorative wondering.’
Buzani grew up in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, and later trained as a jeweller in Tshwane. His first collection, Ndisabhala Imibongo (Imbizo Arts, 2014), written in isiXhosa, won the 2015 South African Literary Award for poetry. a naked bone (Deep South, 2019) is his first book in English. The title poem from the collection won the 2014 Dalro Prize for the best poem published in the poetry journal New Coin.
Nigerian writer DM Aderibigbe’s How the End First Showed (Wisconsin) was named as a finalist, with Girmay praising Aderibigbe’s writing as ‘stunningly imagistic and emotionally charged and nuanced’, and calling the book ‘a family history, a documentary impulse rendered with metaphor and lyricism’.
The African Poetry Book Fund, established by Laura and Robert FX Sillerman in partnership with the literary journal Prairie Schooner, was founded to ‘celebrate and cultivate the poetic arts of Africa’. The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, funded by literary philanthropist and poet Glenna Luschei and the only pan-African book prize of its kind, aims to promote African poetry written in English or in translation by recognising ‘a significant book published each year by an African poet’.