Isele Magazine

The Best of New Literature and Art

The Isele Nonfiction Prize

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.”

Announcing the Shortlist

Serengeti Saga” by Sylvia K. Ilahuka

Sylvia K. Ilahuka is a Tanzanian writer currently living in Uganda. In addition to Isele Magazine, her work has appeared in LolweDoek!, the Aké Review and other publications. She is also the recipient of an artistic grant from the Goethe-Institut, for which she produced a photographic essay series under the House of African Feminisms project. Mother to a toddler, Sylvia holds a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College.

Sense of Touch” by Nora Nneka

Dr. Nora Ekeanya (Nora Nneka) is a psychiatrist and writer. Raised by Nigerian immigrant parents, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in pre-medical biology from the University of Florida and went on to attend the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. It was during her psychiatry residency training at the University of Missouri- Kansas City that Dr. Ekeanya began writing publicly, starting with articles detailing her experiences as a Black physician, and was soon after featured in the popular physician blog, KevinMD. Her essay, “The Sense of Touch”, was included in the live storytelling event, Shelf Life, and was revised for the December 2020 issue of Isele Magazine. Her first visual poem, Identity, won 2nd place at the Queens Underground International Black and Brown Film Festival in 2021. She also completed her first chapbook, Swallowed Words, in 2021 with hopes of being published in 2022.  

Feeling Your Way Home” by Uche Osondu

Uche Osondu is a Nigerian, tragically. He swears by two things: food and anime. He is currently working on writing and living, in equal measures; he chronicles his experiences doing both on his periodic newsletter, a life in He writes from Abuja.  

Adjuncts in the Age of the Coronavirus” by Frances Cannon

Frances Cannon is the Managing Director of Sundog Poetry, as well as a writer, artist, and instructor, currently teaching visual art and English courses at the Vermont Commons School. She has previously taught at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, Champlain College, as well as the University of Iowa. She has an MFA in creative writing from Iowa and a BA in poetry and printmaking from the University of Vermont. Her published books include: Walter Benjamin: Reimagined, MIT Press, The Highs and Lows of Shapeshift Ma and Big-Little Frank, Gold Wake Press, Tropicalia, Vagabond Press, Predator/Play, Ethel Press, Uranian Fruit, Honeybee Press, and Bitten by the Lantern Fly, forthcoming with Finishing Line Press. She has worked for The Iowa Review, McSweeney’s quarterly, The Believer, and The Lucky Peach. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Poetry Northwest, The Iowa Review, The Green Mountain Review, Vice, Lithub, The Moscow Times, The Examined Life Journal, Gastronomica, Electric Lit, Edible magazine, Mount Island, Fourth Genre, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. 

The Feminine and the Oracular” by Itiola Jones

I.S. Jones is an American / Nigerian poet, essayist, and music journalist. She is a Graduate Fellow with The Watering Hole and holds fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT Writer’s Retreat, and Brooklyn Poets. I.S. hosts a month-long, online poetry workshop every April called The Singing Bullet. She is the co-editor of The Young African Poets Anthology: The Fire That Is Dreamed Of (Agbowó, 2020) and served as the inaugural nonfiction guest editor for Lolwe. She is an Editor at 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, freelanced for Complex, Revolt TV, NBC News THINK, and elsewhere. Her works have appeared or is forthcoming in Guernica, Washington Square Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hobart, LA Review of Books, The Rumpus, The Offing, Transition, Shade Literary Arts, Blood Orange Review, Honey Literary and elsewhere. Her poem “Vanity” was chosen by Khadijah Queen as a finalist for the 2020 Sublingua Prize for Poetry. She received her MFA in Poetry at UW–Madison where she was the inaugural 2019­­–2020 Kemper K. Knapp University Fellowship and is the 2021-2022 Hoffman Hall Emerging Artist Fellowship recipient. She is the Director of the Watershed Reading Series with Art + Literature Laboratory, a community-driven contemporary arts center in Madison, Wisconsin. Her chapbook Spells of My Name (2021) is out with Newfound.

Announcing the Longlist

We are delighted to announce the longlist for the inaugural edition of The Isele Nonfiction Prize.

Narrowing down the essays was challenging because the works that we publish at Isele Magazine are brilliant, defiant, and poignantly explore themes that challenge conventional expectations. Publishing them was such a joy. These exceptional writers remind us of the transformative power of stories and the beauty of language.

The works that appear in this longlist encapsulate our mission: to provide a platform for writers who hold a mirror to our society.

On that note, see the longlist in no particular order:

The Isele Nonfiction Prize

Serengeti Saga” by Sylvia K. Ilahuka

Sense of Touch” by Nora Nneka

Feeling Your Way Home” by Uche Osondu

A Personal History of Cantaloupes” by Dot Armstrong

Women Who Bleed Colors” by Ope Adedeji

Adjuncts in the Age of the Coronavirus” by Frances Cannon

The Feminine and the Oracular” by Itiola Jones

This is Not My Hand on Your Back” by Tyler Orion

Cracks in Glass Identities” by Seyi Agboola

An Odd Sort of Thursday” by Ria Dhingra

About the Prize

The prize is for an essay published in Isele Magazine in the past year. 

The judges will publish the longlist of ten essays in February, and a shortlist of five essays in March. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony at the end of April.

Important Dates

  • Longlist Announced: February 21, 2022

  • Shortlist Announced: March 21, 2022

  • Winner Announced: April 26, 2022


We will occasionally update this page with the most recent news about the prize, including the longlist, the shortlist, the winner, the interviews with our writers, and details about the award ceremony.

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