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Nigerian poet wins Orison Poetry Prize 2022

A Nigerian poet and environmentalist, Hussain Ahmed, has won the Orison Poetry Prize 2022 for his work titled, ‘Blue Exodus.’ Hussain Ahmed holds an MFA from…

A Nigerian poet and environmentalist, Hussain Ahmed, has won the Orison Poetry Prize 2022 for his work titled, ‘Blue Exodus.’

Hussain Ahmed holds an MFA from the University of Mississippi and is currently a PhD student at the University of Cincinnati. His poems are featured or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Poetry Magazine, The Kenyon Review, A Public Space, and elsewhere. He is the author of a chapbook, Harp in a Fireplace (Newfound, 2021) and poetry collection, Soliloquy with the Ghosts in Nile (Black Ocean Press, 2022).

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The Orison Prizes in Poetry & Fiction for book-length manuscripts are prizes offered by USA-based Orison Books founded by Luke Hankins in 2014.

Ahmed will receive $1,500 and the publication of his collection by Orison Books.

The winner for the 2022 edition of the Orison Poetry prize, selected by judge Rajiv Mohabir, was announced from a finalists list of Hussain Ahmed, Cory Hutchinson-Reuss, Jeddie Sophronius, and Marco Yan. From these four, Mohabir selected Hussain Ahmed’s ‘Blue Exodus’ as the winner.

Rajiv Mohabir said of the winning entry; “Prayer, refuge, inheritance, and loss, beat in the heart of these poems. Things are not what they seem to be: even in paradise ‘a baobab died/with roots inside the ground.’ Indeed, these lines ask the reader to interrogate all things in new vocabularies of anguish, born from the inheritor of a war—still being fought in the muscle memory of the people who lived through it. Tension coils in every stanza, relieved by the fulfilment of grammar, yet troubling in the refusal of simple answers. Reading this collection, again and again, I come away with the spectres of the living and passed, asking me what it means to live as a story lives, to write a life’s ghost into poem.”

Hussain Ahmed responded with the tweet, “I WON A THING! My manuscript won the 2022 Orison Poetry Prize!

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