Theresa Lola fought off stiff competition from over 1000 other international entrants to be awarded one of the three top prizes of £1000.
Launched in 2012 by Brunel University London and judged by a panel of writers and academics, the International African Poetry Prize aims to provide a platform for Africa’s finest unpublished poets. To encourage only serious entrants, organisers ask that poets each submit a pamphlet of their best 10 pieces of work.
“Winning the Brunel International African Poetry Prize feels surreal, it is an unwavering highlight,” said Theresa, who shared the plaudits with Hiwot Adilow from Ethiopia, and Momtaza Mehri from Somalia.
“I started writing after being inspired by Nigerian poets I saw during a school trip to the Lagos Poetry Festival when I was 12 years old, so to win the Brunel International African Poetry Prize feels like I am doing my job and responsibility as a poet and human in putting Africa forward where it rightly belongs.”
Now a resident of the UK, Theresa first started writing whilst still at school in Nigeria, encouraged by a teacher who recognised her love of writing.
“Going through the awkward teenage reclusive phase I wanted to document everything I was observing and started writing what I now knew as poetry,” said Theresa, who’s now working on a full collection.
“I was inspired by the way poets articulated and condensed heavy stories and knew poetry was the mode of writing I needed.”
Theresa now hopes that winning the Brunel International African Poetry Prize will open doors that would otherwise be closed, and help her achieve her goal of doing work that benefits the whole poetry community.
“As a poet it has definitely bolstered my confidence, and of course sheds more light on the possibility of a poetry career,” she said.