The Okot P’Bitek Prize for Poetry in Translation is a one-off award for emerging African poets administered by the Centre for African Cultural Excellence (CACE) to celebrate fifty years since the publication of Okot P’Bitek’s Song of Lawino.
The prize aims to award poets who write originally in an African indigenous language and translate their own poetry to English to celebrate the process of self-translation and bi-linguality in African poetry.
The prize seeks to highlight and celebrate the fact that Wer pa Lawino was conceived and first written in Acoli, P’Bitek’s mother-tongue and translated to English by the poet as Song of Lawino.
Entrants must be emerging poets (yet to publish/launch a full collection/album of poetry) and resident in an African country. African countries are defined by membership to the African Union (see list of AU members here). We will consider even those from African countries suspended or who have ever sought AU membership.
Entries must be submitted online, by emailing them to email@example.com as attachments (not in the body email), clearly labelled in the subject: 2016 Okot P’Bitek Prize Submission.
Entries shall be received from April 22 until May 31, 2016. Acknowledgement emails shall be sent after the deadline. Queries already answered by these guidelines shall not be answered.
The poet must include in the body of the email, other information about him/her, as country of residence, age, legal name (pen name only where applicable) and telephone contact. No revision of entries shall be accepted after submission.
Five poems in English and their original versions in an African indigenous language, clearly mentioned (in one document) may be submitted for the Okot P’Bitek Prize. Submitting more or less than five poems renders an entry ineligible.
The poetry (both the original and the translation) must be previously unpublished in any form (including audio and video forms). Self-published collections are also considered publishing.
Only the English version of the poetry will be considered by the judges for the prize. The original, clearly mentioning the African language in which it is written must also be included in the entry. Only poems translated by the poet are eligible.
Entries should be attached in Microsoft Word or Rich Text formats (NO PDF), with the full name of the poet as the file name. The entry must be typed in Times New Roman 12 point font and 1.5 line spacing.
All poems must have a title. The entry must have a cover page, with an index of the poem titles included. The font colour shall be black on a white background.
Entrants agree as a condition of entry that CACE may publicize the fact that they made a submission to the prize, or were shortlisted for the Prize. The shortlisted poets and winners will be expected to participate in readings, festivals and other events.
Entrants agree as a condition of entry that CACE may translate their poetry to French and publish the poetry in both English and French (where possible in its original language as well) in the annual anthology. They will work with editors to prepare the poetry for publication.
Worldwide copyright of each poem remains with the poet. CACE will have the unrestricted right to publish and translate the short-listed poems in an anthology and for promotional purposes.
The prize judging panel comprises Duduzile Mabaso (Chair), Juliane Okot Bitek and Toni Stuart. The winners of the prize shall be announced at The Writivism Festival in Kampala, scheduled for August 22 – 28, 2016.
The prize amount is USD 500$ and the winner will also have an option of attending a one-month writing residency at a soon to be announced African university.
The judges of the prize have the discretion to not award the prize, or to award the prize to two or more joint winners. In a likely case where there are joint winners, the prize money shall be split between/among the joint winners.
Any questions of eligibility shall be resolved by the CACE administration and their decision is final. Queries not answered by these guidelines should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shortlisted poets shall be required to send a biography and a portrait photograph for use in print, electronic and online media. Shortlisted writers shall be available to respond to emails related to the prize at short notice.
There is no required subject/content/theme of the poems. The Centre for African Cultural Excellence, the judges and other partners involved in the project are not looking for a specific theme in the work.