After many months of reading the brilliant stories, poems, and essays published here at Isele Magazine, we revealed the category longlists in February and the category shortlists in March. Now, we are so delighted to announce winners of the inaugural Isele Prizes.

Meet them:

Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo Wins the Isele Short Story Prize for “The Year of the Sun”

Okonkwo’s exceptional short story explores the difficult conversations we have about how we love, our culture and traditions, and the relationship we have with our history. Her language pulses and her structure is controlled. This is a masterfully crafted story, which immerses you in the setting as she builds this world with mathematical precision, such that a reader, even if they aren’t familiar with the period and the culture, sees themselves in her characters. This story stays with you.

Read “The Year of the Sun.”

Watch our managing editor, Tracy Haught, as she congratulates Okonkwo on her winning:

Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike Wins the Isele Poetry Prize for “there’s more”

Umezurike’s poem travels around the world, gathering stories about people who search for new beginnings despite the dangers that lurk in the deserts and in the seas, dangers that nip dreams at the bud, but which our seekers must brave for their sanity, for a moment away from the despair they leave behind. Umezurike’s poem is timeless, and we are so lucky he trusted us with his work.

Read “there’s more.

Watch our poetry editor, Megan Ross, as she congratulates Umezurike on his winning:

Nora Nneka Wins the Isele Nonfiction Prize Winner for “Sense of Touch”

Nneka’s deeply moving essay explores the relationship between a daughter and her mother, family trauma, grief, and how these experiences shape a woman’s narrative arc—her relationship with her body, her journey through pregnancy, and the joy that comes with embracing these stories that come together to define who we are and our relationship with our community. Her language is spellbinding.

Read “Sense of Touch.”

Watch our nonfiction editor, Adachioma Ezeano, as she congratulates Nneka on her winning:

We are grateful to our friends at Bright Lights Books and Poetry 4 Change who sponsored this initiative. See here for more about the prizes.