Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets

Hey guys. Here’s another opportunity for writers to get published! 

The African Poetry Book Fund, in partnership with Prairie Schooner and the University of Nebraska, promotes and advances the development and publication of the poetic arts through its book series, contests, workshops, and seminars and through its collaborations with publishers, festivals, booking agents, colleges, universities, conferences and all other entities that share an interest in the poetic arts of Africa. 

We publish between three and five poetry books each year, including the winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, a chapbook box set of emerging African poets, and our New and Selected series. 

We accept electronic submissions to the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets annually between September 15 and December 1st, 2017. We consider electronic submissions only; any hard copy submissions will be recycled unread.


The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry is awarded annually to an African poet who has not yet published a collection of poetry

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets will only accept “first book” submissions from African writers who have not published a book-length poetry collection. This includes self-published books if they were sold online, in stores, or at readings. Writers who have edited and published an anthology or a similar collection of other writers’ work remain eligible. 

An “African writer” is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, who is a national or resident of an African country, or whose parents are African.

Only poetry submissions in English can be considered. Work translated from another language to English is accepted, but a percentage of the prize will be awarded to the translator.


The winner receives USD $1000 and book publication through the University of Nebraska Press.




The African Poetry Book Fund Editorial Board, including Kwame Dawes, Chris Abani, Gabeba Baderoon, Phillippa yaa de Villiers, Bernardine Evaristo, Aracelis Girmay, John Keene, and Matthew Shenoda will judge. 



  • No entry fee is required to submit to the contest.
  • Poetry manuscripts should be at least 50 pages long.
  • The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript. All entries will be read anonymously. Please include a cover page listing only the title of the manuscript (not the author’s name, address, telephone number, or email address). An acknowledgements page listing the publication history of individual poems may be included, if desired.
  •  No application forms are necessary. 
  • Eligible writers may submit more than one manuscript.
  • While we have no specific formatting rules, we suggest sending your manuscript in Times New Roman or Arial, 12 point font, single-spaced.
  • We also prefer one poem per page, meaning a new poem does not begin on the same page on which another ends.


Submission of poems should be made on or before December 1st, 2017.

For more details on the the Sillerman First Book Prize for African poets please visit: or email

A winner will be announced in early January, with notifications sent shortly thereafter.

If you’re a writer, and would love more information and stay updated on the activities of the African Poetry Book Fund, visit their website:

Since the prize is awarded annually, you might want to keep tabs on them via the websites above.⬆

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