The winners of the Vweta Chadwick Poetry Prize have been announced. Juliet Nnaji wins the prize for the poem titled “From a Place,” while Favour Idaka Imoke and Obasiota Maryhilda Ibe take second and third place, respectively. Jeremy Benson wins the Junior Category Prize. The winners were announced on August 6 at a virtual event.
The Vweta Chadwick Poetry Prize celebrates the memory of Vweta Chadwick, the founder of Project ASHA, who passed away in July 2020. This year, up to 500,000 Naira was awarded to four winners. The poems of the senior prize winners will be published in an anthology along with Chadwick’s poems and on Project ASHA’s website. Project ASHA is a non-profit organization aimed at advancing the basic rights of marginalized women and children with disabilities.
Earlier in the year, the organization invited young female poets under the age of 24 to write on the theme of “Invisible Disability.” Seventy poets across Nigeria submitted entries in hopes of winning the prize. Twelve poems were shortlisted for the finals, judged by renowned poets, speakers, and publishers, such as Iquo Diana Abasi, Ella Fortte, David Olajide and Adedayo Agarau.
The overall winner Nnaji is a poet and author of three books including Would Never Be Silent Again. As a spoken word artist, she has performed at several events including LIPFEST 2021, Cedar Fest 2020, Moonlight Tales 2019, and World Poetry Day 2019, where her poem “If the Country is a Book” was personally selected by Wole Soyinka for the Lagos-based event.
In “From a Place,” Nnaji uses the power of spoken word to explore mental health struggles experienced by Nigerian women. The judge Ella Fortte remarked, “Juliet Nnaji is a poet people should look out for, who uses her words as a tool of change.” In a video [see below], in which she reads her winning poem, Nnaji remarks that the theme of invisible disability is close to her heart, having witnessed the many sacrifices made by her mother while growing up.
More details of the winners below:
1st Prize Winner (180,000 Naira):
- Juliet Nnaji: “From A Place”
2nd Prize Winner (150,000 Naira):
- Favour Idaka Imoke: “Cynosure of Beauty”
3rd Prize Winner (100,000 Naira):
- Obasiota Maryhilda Ibe: “Feral”
Junior Category Prize Winner (70,000 Naira):
- Jemmy Benson: “My Invisible Disability”
Congratulations to the winners!