Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Caine Prize According to Readers, Writers, Critics, and Judges.

This post is an attempt to place all the links to  opinion pieces about the Caine prize on one page. 'Sound bites' from the essays are placed in italics after each title. Click on the titles to go to the full articles.

My Caine Prize Year by Olufemi Terry. In the immediate aftermath of winning, I was asked to give reasons for why I write, to define myself, to offer opinions on African writing. This had never happened before. .

The Caine Prize and Unintended Consequences by Ikhide Ikheloa.   Helped with lots of dollars, the West is now busily forcing our stories into a particularly obnoxious trajectory. The allure of fame is overwhelming and our writers are trying way too hard to be “African” writers.

Ikhide's complaint [The Caine Prize and Unintended Consequences] by Emmanuel Iduma   If we choose to write a story about Darfur, does it mean we have told a story that should not be told because it affirms a skewed Western thought or affords a validation of Western-stereotypic consciousness? 

The Trouble with the Caine Prize by Saratu Abiola. Folks call it the "African Booker Prize", and with the mantle of premier African literary award comes the weight that The Booker, The Pushcart, The Pen or any other literary award doesn't have - the burden of representation, of validation, of choosing by dint of one's position the face of and state of African literary scene.

Some Writing About What We Wrote About When We Wrote About The Caine Prize by Matthew Cheney. Further, once a story becomes a Caine Prize Nominee, it is no longer just any story — it has to bear the burden of being singled out as a Great African Story. That's a big burden, unfair to the story, the writer, and the Prize, but inevitable...

Bernadine Evaristo, the Chair of Judges for the 2012 prize. I ask myself - to what extent does published African fiction pander to received notions about the continent, and at what cost? How might this contrac the imagination and reduce expectations for readers and writers alike.

The Africa I recognise and Love by Augustus Casely-HayfordFor Africans, fighting for the right to tell their stories is something that has been hard won – whether in the form of the establishment of ancient libraries, or the challenging of colonial regimes or repressive governments, words have been our allies.

The Caine Prize, the Tragic Continent, and the Politics of the Happy African Story by Carmen McCain. Such literary prescription begins to feel like Dora Akunyili’s erstwhile rebranding campaign—a luxury of those who do not want to be embarrassed while abroad, which does little to solve the problems on the ground.

How to Write a Caine Prize Story (Whatever That Is) Part 1 and 2  by Nta Bassey.   This is merely concerned with getting you on the shortlist , and for that you must be grateful. For if Sir Michael Caine never did have a prize, your name would still be deeply ensconced in Africa’s jungles known only by your town crier. 

The Caine Prize and Contemporary African Writing by Lizzy Attree It is interesting that winning stories from 2009 to 2011 feature child narrators located, in Osondu's case, in a refugee camp, while Terry's "Stickfighting Days" is set in a Kenyan slum and Bulawayo's "Hitting Budapest" is set in and around an informal settlement. It is a shame if this series of stories selected to represent the Caine Prize, which in most other ways are not that similar, suggest that there are thematic concerns for which the judges look. 

The Caine Prize and the Impossibility of “New” African Writing by Samantha PintoBut while that veneer of benevolent racism persists and should be interrogated, a closer look at some of the winning stories’ (not to mention the shortlisted ones) form along with their content tells a more complicated story.  

I intend to keep updating this page as the conversation around the prize unfolds. I have left out pieces that focus on a particular year (for instance, Pa Ikhide's The 2011 Caine Prize: How Not to Write About Africa). I will put up another post about those ones soon. Do drop a comment to let me know if there is any link that I've left out, I will gladly update the post.

For reviews of the shortlisted stories check out Blogging the Caine I have found this blogathon to be interesting and thought provoking. 

What She Thinks: The winner of this year's prize will be announced on Monday 8 July, who are you rooting for?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Noemi Press 2013 Contest

Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication by Noemi Press are 
given annually for one book-length poetry collection and one 
book-length work of fiction. The editors will judge.

POETRY: Poets at any stage in their career may submit a 
manuscript of no more than 70 pages with a $25 entry fee by April 

FICTION: Fiction writers at any stage in their career may submit a 
manuscript (no page limit) with a $25 entry fee by April 30.

Learn more here.

Engine Books Novel Prize

Deadline: April 30, 2013

Entry Fee: $25 

Finalists and winner announced in September, 2013. 

What you win: a $1,000 advance and publication by Engine Books
 in 2014.

Learn more about this prize here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Artmosphere April, 2013 Edition: Stories We Long to Tell

The April edition of Artmosphere tagged “Stories We Long to Share” will hold on Saturday, April 20, 2013
Venue: NuStreams Conference Centre, KM 110 Abeokuta road, Alalubosa GRA Extension, Ibadan.
TIME: 3pm to 6pm

There are stories we long to tell, but how do we do so? Unless, we put them out there without the fear of falling from grace, without the besmirched air that the tale may give us.

The fourth edition of ARTMOSPHERE, your favourite Music, Literature and Arts parley will feature two published authors and a long list of traditionally unpublished and emerging voices in Nigerian literature. These writers define what literature is on a personal level, basking in the inspiration that life throws on their muse’s window, they proceed to tell fascinating stories from their own perspective.


Jumoke Verrisimo is the author of 'I am Memory' a collection of poems; she has read and performed over the last ten years.  She won First Prize, Carlos Idize Ahmad Prize for a first book of Poetry 2009 and the Second Prize, Anthony Agbo Prize for Poetry 2009. Since her first book was published, she has been a guest poet at the Abuja Writer's Forum, Lagos Books and Arts Festival (LABAF), Ife Poetry Festival, and a participating writer in the Nine Writers, Four cities tour. She again recently participated at the Struga Poetry Nights, Macedonia. Her poems have been published in several magazines across the continent. Verrisimo is a graduate of Literature-in-English from the Lagos State University. The Punch, a widely read Newspaper in Nigeria describes her as "one of those who will change the future of literature in Nigeria."

Opeyemi Ajala, the Egba born writer is a literary enthusiast, a web developer and a “black sheep billionaire-in-view” in the family. He is a teacher, an itinerant poet and a fiction writer. The graduate of computer science, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has a bulk of numerous poetry works. He has also been putting together a fine and humorous tapestry of fiction titled “yet Another Day” a story of a corps member in Lagos, who finds Lagos as a place of learning the hard way. Opeyemi Ajala is a member of the Pulpfaction Book Club, Lagos’ prima book reading culture and lifestyle event. He is also known in youth socio-political circles for his radical views. He blogs at   

Oseunfunmi Adegbohun is also persistent blogger at www.ossunfunmiwordsmith.wordpress.comwhich he uses as his platform for garnering public readership and response. The eclectic wordsmith has performed his poetry and his “out-of-the-box” collection of short stories “Childhood Naughtiness” at different fora, including concerts, arts exhibitions and comedy shows.

Ooreofeoluwa Adebola Kalejaiye is driven by a strong passion for reading and writing. She has showcased her talents as the editor-in-chief, Pen of the Ready Writer and at the Vessels of Honour Foundation, University of Ibadan. In 2012, she participated in writing competitions like the Spur Magazine Essay Competition and the Abimbola Adelakun Essay Competition. She currently manages two blogs, and

Enigmatic Olumide also known as enigmatic poet stands out as Spoken Word artist, a published author and dramatist. Enigmatic poet focuses on poetry with inspirational and spiritual undertones. His blog ‘The Enigmatic’ was nominated twice at the Nigerian Blog Awards as Best Inspiring Blog and Best Personal Blog in 2011 and 2012 respectively. He has performed at various events such as Word Up,Chill ‘n’ Relax, Celebrity Read Africa, and Theatre at TerraKulture.

Jonah Ayodele Obajeun is a Human Development Strategist and winner of the World Bank Essay Competition in 2008. Rainmaker (as he is popularly called by friends) has been recognized by The Nation Newspaper as the Most Dedicated Youth Writer (2008) and by the Lagos State Government as a conscious youth leader in the recent Champions of Our Time project, a youth development programme supported by the Lagos State Government. He is a versatile poet, essayist and fiction writer. He blogs at

Opeyemi Adeola is a final year student of English Language at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. She is a lover of the Arts and a worshipper of books. Writing comes to her when painting fails to tell the numerous stories in her head.  She was recently assigned the role of a relationship manager at WriteHouse Collective.
Her passion for women’s rights inspires most of her works; her writings have appeared on various online platforms.

Olaitan Olaniran is a student of Biochemistry at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan. He writes around the themes of love, despair, and writing. He also writes short stories, draws abstracts, and loves singing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Of Longlists and Shortlists

The Commonwealth Writers Prize

Twenty one books have been shortlisted for this prize. Three of those books are written by Nigerians.
They are listed below.

Other countries are represented on the shortlist. Below, I list the number of books that each country has on the shortlist.

Canada- 2
Jamaica- 1
South Africa- 1
Sri Lanka-1
United Kingdom-3

Nigeria's Tobenna Nwosu has also been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize alongside 18 other writers.
Read all about the Commonwealth Prizes here.

 The Frank O'Connor Award

 Seventy Five books have been longlisted for world's richest prize for a collection of short stories. I highlight three of the books here.

I'm highlighting this book  because Mr. Barrett is Nigerian :) and was an editor with Farafina when my story was accepted for publication by the magazine. I have never met him,  but I like anyone who is involved remotely or directly in getting my work into print. Call me partial! Forget my fake famzing though, he writes great short stories. Check out his work  here and here. 

I'm highlighting this book  because, you got it, Ms. Okparanta is Nigerian. Last year I put up a link to one of her stories for Fiction Friday. If you haven't read it, it isn't too late.

I met Susan last year when we were both writers in residence at Writers Omi International Art Centre (Ledig House). I was captivated when she read her story during the reading that was organised while we were in residence. I can still hear her voice and see the images that her words evoked. She is a talented writer who does innovative things with the short story.

Check out the full longlist here.

Kwani? Manuscript Prize 

Kwani? has released a list of 30 titles that have been longlisted for the prize. Below, I list the number of books that each country has on the longlist.



South Africa-4

The longlist is here.

What She Thinks: Fiction Friday will be back on Friday. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

BOMB's 2013 Fiction Contest

Deadline April 30th. 

The winner of  will receive a $500 prize and publication in BOMB Magazine’s literary supplement First Proof

Fiction Contest Submission Guidelines

Winner receives $500 and publication in BOMB Magazine
• Manuscripts of one story maximum must be less than 20 pages (around 5,000 words regardless of single or double spacing).
• Include cover letter with name, address, email, phone number and title of story; do not write a name on the actual manuscript, as all entries will be considered anonymously.
• Story must be previously unpublished.
• Email first proof (at) bombsite (dot) com with any questions.

Learn more here.

What She Thinks: Best of Luck!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lightship Competitions

Lightship First Chapter Prize 2013

The Prize - Expert Mentoring / Possible Publication
Do you have a literary novel in you? Have you written the first chapter and a synopsis? 
Imagine getting priceless feedback from an acclaimed literary author, a top literary agent and a commissioning editor as you write your novel. That is what you get if you win First Chapter. You will receive three professional mentoring sessions over the course of a year from each judge: award-winning author M.J Hyland; David Miller of Rogers, Coleridge & White, Alessandro Gallenzi of Alma Books. 
Not only will the winning First Chapter be published in the Lightship Anthology 3 in 2013, but if, after the mentoring process, your finished novel is as enthralling as your First Chapter, David Miller will agree to represent your work and Alma Books will publish it as a book.
 Winning First Chapter is a fantastic publicity platform to launch your novel and achieve the acclaim and sales that could secure you a career as a novelist in a highly competitive market. 
Learn more here.
Deadline: 1 Jul 2013

Lightship Poetry Prize 2013

The winner and nine runners-up will be published in Lightship Anthology 3 and will be invited to read from their work at an awards ceremony in November 2013. 

Deadline: 1 Jul 2013

Word Limit: 200

Learn more here.

Lightship Short Memoir Prize 2013

Do you want to tell your own story, or an episode of it; write from your own life experiences and get published? A short memoir is not fact-based autobiography. It is pure storytelling and as such, allows writers licence to make sense of a part of life, to fashion it into a story that readers can learn from and be entertained by. The inaugural Lightship Short Memoir Competition will be judged by Rachel Cusk. The winning entry will be awarded £1,000 and be published in Lightship Anthology 3.

Deadline: 30 Jun 2013

1st Prize: £1,000

The winner and nine runners-up will be published in the Lightship anthology by Lightship Publishing Ltd and Alma Books and will be invited to read from their work at an awards ceremony in Kingston-upon-Hull in 2013.
Learn more here.

Lightship First Act Prize 2013

Imagine getting priceless feedback from an award-winning playwright, a leading dramatic agent and a theatre director as you write your play. That is what you get if you win First Act. You will receive three professional mentoring sessions over the course of a year from each judge: prize-winning British playwright Anthony McCarten; Micheline Steinberg, and David Whybrow of the Cockpit Theatre, London.

If, after the mentoring process, your finished full length play is as fantastic as your First Act, Micheline Steinberg may agree to represent your work and David Whybrow may agree to a week’s run at The Cockpit Theatre, London. Your mentors may become your champions. Winning First Act is a fantastic publicity platform to launch your play and achieve the critical acclaim that could secure you a career as a dramatist.
Word Limit: 6000
Deadline: 30th June 2013
Learn more here.

Lightship One Page Prize 2013

1st Prize: £250

Deadline: 30 Apr 2013
Word Limit: 300
Learn more here.

Lightship Short Story Prize 2013

1st Prize: £1,000

The winner and nine runners-up will be published in the Lightship anthology by Lightship Publishing Ltd and Alma Books and will be invited to read from their work at an awards ceremony in Kingston-upon-Hull in November 2013.

Deadline: 30 Jun 2013
Word Limit: 5000
Learn more here.

Lightship Flash Fiction Prize 2013

1st Prize: £500 

The winner and nine runners-up will be published in the Lightship paperback anthology to be printed by Lightship Publishing Ltd and Alma Books and will be invited to read from their work at an awards ceremony in Hull in 2013

Deadline: 30 Jun 2013
Word Limit: 1500
Learn More here.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

IndiAfrica Contests

IndiAfrica Business Venture Contest

Theme: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Address Developmental Challenges

Deadline: March 28 2013

What you could win? A trip to Davos in January 2014, INR 50,000 and more.

Learn more here.

IndiAfrica Poster Design Contest

Theme: What does Freedom mean to you?

Deadline: April 14 2013

What you could win? Twenty prizes of INR 25000 each and more.

Learn more here.

IndiAfrica Photography Contest

Theme: Communities in India and Africa

Deadline: April 14 2013

What you could win? Twenty prizes of INR 25000 each and more.

Learn more here.

IndiAfrica Essay Writing Contest

Theme: How can India and Africa collaborate to co- create a brighter future?

Deadline: 14th April 2013

What you could win? 500 USD and more.

Learn more here.

What She Thinks: Win!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Artmosphere #3: Literature, Life, Technology and the Arts.

Artmosphere is organized by WriteHouse Collective, a creative enterprise, culture and arts firm with the support of Ibridge Hub, a collaborative space for people with great ideas to meet, learn and work and a growing league of literary and culture enthusiasts across South-West Nigeria.Conversations will play host a crème of writers, Victor Ehikamenor, visual artist, creative communicator and author of Excuse Me, Emmanuel Iduma, literary and technology radical and author of Farad, Emmanuel Uweru Okoh, author of celebrated debut poetry collection, Gardens and Caves, and Kayode Taiwo Olla, author of debut novel, Sprouting Again. There will also be Poetry, Spoken Word and Music presentations from a long list of emerging voices.

What She Thinks: If you are in Ibadan, be there.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Voices of Our Future 2013

What is Voices of Our Future?
Voices of Our Future is an online training program in new media, citizen journalism, and empowerment for emerging grassroots women leaders. At the end of the application process, thirty applicants will be selected to become Correspondents and take part in the full five-month long program where they will gain the tools and knowledge to vocalize and actualize their visions for change. Specifically, Correspondents will learn about the principles of practicing ethical citizen journalism; how to write compelling frontline journals, profiles, feature stories, and op-eds; how to use new media to amplify their voices; and the basics of digital storytelling.
Benefits of the program include:
·         New media and citizen journalism training via phone and Internet by renowned experts, including program partners The Press Institute and The Op-Ed Project
·         Personal coaching sessions and support via phone and Internet from a Vision Mentor
·         Opportunities for publication through World Pulse and partner media organizations
·         Opportunities to connect with grassroots women leaders from around the globe
·         Personal development, including increased self-awareness, confidence, and empowered leadership
·         Professional development, including improved skills in new media, citizen journalism, and networking
·         Technology stipend to offset communication costs*
How Are The Applicants Selected?
During the course of the application process, you will be given a set of learning materials each week (for a total of four (4) weeks) through the Voices of Our Future Applicants Classroom, and asked to complete an associated writing assignment. A panel of staff and selected volunteers, called Listeners, will choose 30 applicants based on the following criteria:
·         Completion of all assignments
·         Expression of a positive vision for the future and solutions-oriented writing
·         Commitment to promote global issues through the eyes of women
·         Communication of personal experience as an underrepresented voice in your community, nation, or world; living in a developing country or conflict zone; or facing discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, or social class
·         Demonstration of leadership on a personal, community, national, or global level
You will have the opportunity to demonstrate the above criteria through your writing assignments and through your interaction with staff, other applicants, and our online community on World Pulse.
Our panel of staff and Listeners will choose the top 30 most impressive applicants based on the criteria above by May 20, 2013.
Don't miss out on this unique opportunity to speak for yourself to the world and advance your dreams for social change.
How do I apply?

*Stipends will be determined based on individual need and circumstance.
For any further questions, please feel free to contact

What She Thinks: I participated in this program in 2009 and volunteered as a listener in 2010. I can say from personal experience that Worldpulse is committed to providing excellent teaching aids, feedback and support. I wish you the best if you apply.

Sozopol Fiction Seminars

When: from 23 to 26 May 2013. Application deadline: 15 March 2013. 

The Elizabeth Kostova Foundation offers its sixth annual summer fiction writing seminar in the ancient town of Sozopol, Bulgaria. The seminar program consists of intensive daily fiction workshops, roundtable discussions, guest lectures and literary readings by faculty and participants. Fiction writers from Bulgaria and fiction writers from English-speaking countries, including but not limited to the U.K. and the U.S., are invited to apply. A total number of ten applicants will be selected for participation and funding.Five participants writing in English and five writing in Bulgarian language will receive scholarships. A scholarship covers tuition, room and board, in-country transportation, and 50% of international travel expenses.
Morning workshops will be led in English by Elizabeth Kostova (US), author of the best-selling novels The Historian (2005) and The Swan Thieves (2010), and in Bulgarian by Vladimir Levchev (BG), author of nineteen poetry collections (four published in the U.S.) and the novels Krali Marko: The Balkan Prince (2006), 2084 (2009) and The Man and the Shadow (2012).

In order to apply, the applicants must complete an online submission form and attach all materials as required: a biography (maximum 300 words), a statement of purpose (maximum 1 page) and a fiction writing sample (an excerpt from a novel or a short story/stories; at least 10 and not more than 20 pages; Times New Roman, 1800 characters per page, including gaps). Please note that each file and page of the attached excerpt must contain the applicant's name and the text title.
All approved applicants will be notified via e-mail by 15 April 2013. The results will be published on the website of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation not later than 30 April 2013.

A letter of reference, sent directly to the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation via e-mail by the reference, is required in addition to the online application. The reference letter should be sent
Only online applications, will be accepted.

Learn more here.
Apply here.

What She Thinks: All the best!