Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets – APBF

The African Poetry Book Fund, in partnership with Prairie Schooner and the University of Nebraska, promotes and advances the development and publication of the poetic arts  through its book series, contests, workshops, and seminars and through  its collaborations with publishers, festivals, booking agents, colleges,  universities, conferences and all other entities that share an interest  in the poetic arts of Africa.

We publish between three and five poetry books each year, including the winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, a chapbook box set of emerging African poets, and our New and Selected series. 

We accept electronic submissions to the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets annually between September 15 and December 1. Please check back to submit on September 15.

To submit, follow this link

Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets

The  2020 submission period for the Sillerman First Book Prize is open as of September 15 and will remain open through December 1, 2020. We consider  electronic submissions only; any hard copy submissions will be recycled  unread.

The Prize:

The Sillerman First Book  Prize for African Poetry is awarded annually to an African poet who has  not yet published a collection of poetry. The winner receives USD $1000  and book publication through the University of Nebraska Press.

The African Poetry Book Fund Editorial  Board, including Kwame Dawes, Chris Abani, Gabeba Baderoon, Phillippa yaa de Villiers, Bernardine Evaristo, Aracelis Girmay, John Keene, and Matthew Shenoda will judge. 

A winner will be announced in early January, with notifications sent shortly thereafter.


The  Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets will only accept “first  book” submissions from African writers who have not published a  book-length poetry collection. This includes self-published books if  they were sold online, in stores, or at readings. Writers who have  edited and published an anthology or a similar collection of other  writers’ work remain eligible.

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.

Only poetry submissions in English can be considered. Work translated from another language to English is accepted,  but a percentage of the prize will be awarded to the translator.

No  past or present paid employees of the University of Nebraska Press or  Amalion Press, or current faculty, students, or employees at the  University of Nebraska, are eligible for the prizes.


No entry fee is required to submit to the contest.

Poetry manuscripts should be at least 50 pages long.

The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript. All entries will be read anonymously. Please include a cover page listing only the title of the manuscript (not the  author’s name, address, telephone number, or email address). An  acknowledgements page listing the publication history of individual  poems may be included, if desired. No application forms are necessary. Eligible writers may submit more than one manuscript.

While  we have no specific formatting rules, we suggest sending your  manuscript in Times New Roman or Arial, 12 point font, single-spaced. We  also prefer one poem per page, meaning a new poem does not  begin on the same page on which another ends.

For more details on the Sillerman First Book Prize for African poets please visit our website here: or email


General Submissions

We accept electronic unsolicited poetry manuscript submissions from published and unpublished African poets during our open submissions periods. Our next open submissions period begins January 1, 2019 and will run through May 1, 2019.

For more information on our other publishing and literary activities, visit our website: