Rabha Ashry

The Brunel International African Poetry Prize has announced the Egyptian Rabha Ashry as the 2020 winner. Rabha Ashry emerged overall winner out of the shortlist of six which includes AKOSUA AFIRIYIE-HWEDIE (Zambia/Ghana/Botswana), INUA ELLAMS (Nigeria), AMANDA HOLIDAY (Sierra Leone), NOUR KAMEL (Egypt) and SARADHA SOOBRAYEN (Mauritius). The prize organizers made the announcement on Monday 4th May, 2020 which brings the Egyptian into the league of past winners.

The past winners include:

• Warsan Shire (2013);
• Liyou Libsekal (2014);
• Safia Elhillo & Nick Makoha (2015);
• Gbenga Adesina & Chekwube O. Danladi (2016);
• Romeo Oriogun (2017);
• Hiwot Adilow, Theresa Lola & Momtaza Mehri (2018);
• Nadra Mabrouk & Jamila Osman (2019).

In his review of the shortlist, poet and chemist Abdulrahim Hussani has this to say about Rabha Ashry’s entries:
Sometimes you fall in love with certain poets not because they are overtly sublime but because their poems click something in you. This is the case with Rabha Ashry. Her poems possess subtlety that is inexplicable. They are silent yet loud in beauty. In the shortlist, I feel Rabha Ashry’s place is akin to that of a brilliant student who prefers to take the back seat and is quiet, disinterested in what goes on around. But her intelligence is undoubted. Her poems shimmer. They come alive in a silent way. Anxiety and innocence run through them. Here, displacement and identity take central stage.
Read the full review here

“Rabha Ashry is Egyptian, from Abu Dhabi, and based in Chicago. A New York University Abu Dhabi graduate, she recently completed an MFA in Writing at the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago. She writes about exile, the diaspora, and living between languages. Her work has been published in the Oyez review, Collected 2018, Airport Road, Electra Street, and Strange Horizons.

The judges this year were poets and academics: Karen McCarthy Woolf (Chair), Kayo Chingonyi, Billy Kahora, Momtaza Mehri and Koleka Putuma. They praised Ashry’s poetry for reminding us of what can be at stake in a poem. Each twist of phrase and line is weighed carefully achieving a fruitful balance between harmony and dissonance, the mundane and the haunting, the ordinary and extraordinary. She deftly interweaves a range of powerful, and sometimes jarring, images.”
Read the announcement here

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