The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets 2020/ How to Apply (Prizes: $1000 + more)

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets is now open for submissions. Awarded annually to a debut poetry book or manuscript by an African poet, the prize is given by the African Poetry Book Fund, in partnership with Praire Schooner and the University of Nebraska. The prize comes with prize money of a $1000 and book publication through the University of Nebraska Press.

Nigeria’s Gbenga Adeoba won the prize in 2019 for his manuscript “Exodus”; the previous year, it went to Botswana’s TJ Dema, for her collection “The Careless Seamstress”.

The deadline for submissions is the 1st of December, 2019.

Who is Eligible to Apply:

  • Any African poet writing in English who has not published a full length collection.
  • “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,” according to their site.
  • There is no entry fee.

How to Apply:

  • Submit a poetry manuscript that is at least 50 pages long.
  • Make sure that your name does not appear on the manuscript.
  • Include a cover page that lists the title of the manuscript.
  • You may also include an acknowledgements page listing the publication history of individual poems.
  • There are no specific formatting rules. Preferably, manuscript should be in Times New Roman or Ariel, 12 pt, and single spaced.
  • Each poem must also begin on a new page.
  • Eligible writers may submit more than one manuscript.
  • The deadline for submissions is the 1st of December, 2019.
  • Submit here.


  • A $1000 cash award.
  • Book deal from the University of Nebraska Press.

Good luck poets!

Click to Read Ten Brilliant Poets Discuss Their Writing Philosophies, Recommend Stellar Poems and Offer Tips On How Best To Handle Rejections



Ernest Ogunyemi

Ernest O. Ogunyemi enjoys playing with words to express what he feels within, or wants to feel. His stories have appeared in magazines and blogs such as Tuck Magazine, Naija Stories, Poetry Soup and his poetry is forthcoming in Acumen91 (out in May) and African Writing. Currently, he is working on a short story collection: Weaving Fine Rhythms from Broken Tunes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *