Isele Magazine

The Best of New Literature and Art

The Isele Prizes

The Inaugural Isele Prizes: The Winners

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.”

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.

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 Category Shortlists

We are delighted to reveal the shortlists for the inaugural edition of The Isele Prizes.

Our judges have carefully read the longlisted works, considering them against predetermined criteria relating to our vision for this initiative. The following short stories, poems, and essays are brilliant, defiant, and poignantly explore themes that challenge conventional expectations. These writers hold a mirror to society, opening hearts and minds with the transformative power and beauty of their words. Publishing them has been an honor. 

Here are the shortlists according to their categories and in no particular order:

The Isele Short Story Prize

The Year of the Sun” by Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo

Right” by Rilla Askew

Sunset Dreams” by Troy Onyango

Souvenir” by Roseline Mgbodichinma

The Children of No 39 Faulks Street” by Innocent Chizaram Ilo

The Only One I Have Not Lost” by Dennis Mugaa

Click here to learn more about the writers.


The Isele Poetry Prize

Two Poems” by Romeo Oriogun

Four Poems” by Joanna George

there’s more” and “Two Poems” by Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike

Three Poems” by Kelli Russell Agodon

Three Poems” by Chisom Okafor

Click here to learn more about the writers.


The Isele Nonfiction Prize

Serengeti Saga” by Sylvia K. Ilahuka

Sense of Touch” by Nora Nneka

Feeling Your Way Home” by Uche Osondu

Adjuncts in the Age of the Coronavirus” by Frances Cannon

The Feminine and the Oracular” by Itiola Jones

Click here to learn more about the writers.


Announcing the Category Longlists

We are delighted to announce the longlists for the inaugural edition of The Isele Prizes.

Narrowing down the short stories, poems, and essays for the longlists 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 these longlists encapsulate our mission: to provide a platform for writers who hold a mirror to our society.

On that note, here are the longlists according to their categories and in no particular order:

The Isele Short Story Prize

The Year of the Sun” by Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo

Today She Will” by Saratu Abiola

Right” by Rilla Askew

Sunset Dreams” by Troy Onyango

Witch Hazel” by Gabriela Denise Frank

Souvenir” by Roseline Mgbodichinma

The Newlyweds Window” by Husnah Mad-hy 

The Children of No 39 Faulks Street” by Innocent Chizaram Ilo

The Only One I Have Not Lost” by Dennis Mugaa

Deliverance” by Jadesola Ajao


The Isele Poetry Prize

Two Poems” by Romeo Oriogun

Five Poems” by Adeyele Adeniran

Four Poems” by Joanna George

Balls of Mess” by Muyera Sokoo

The One Good Eyes of the Room” by Susan Rich

there’s more” and “Two Poems” by Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike

Six Poems” by Sarah Rebecca Kersley

Six Poems” by Francine Simon

Three Poems” by Kelli Russell Agodon

Three Poems” by Chisom Okafor


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


Check below for the all the latest news and updates about the prizes.

About The Isele Prizes

This literary project celebrates the best of short stories, poetry, and essays by writers published in Isele Magazine

The prizes are split into three categories – short stories, poetry, and essays, and each category is judged by a panel of two judges. The longlists of ten stories, ten suites of poems or single poems, and eight essays will be announced in February, while the shortlists of five works per category will be revealed at the end of March. The winners will receive $200 each, presented to them at a ceremony at the end of April.

Only works published in Isele Magazine will be considered for the prizes, and the longlisted works will appear in the annual print project – The Best of Isele Anthology.

At Isele Magazine, we believe that literature and the arts are an integral part of the daily conversations that uplift and shape our thinking. We publish writers and artists who hold a mirror to our society and challenge conventional expectations about ways of being, how to be, and who decides who should be.

Follow this link to read more about how to submit your work for consideration, and click here to read more about our editors.

Eligibility Criteria

The inaugural prizes will consider works published in Isele Magazine from inception (July 2020) to January 2022. Next year, judges will consider works published after January 31, 2022.

The Categories

The Isele Short Story Prize

The prize is for a short story (including flash fiction) published in Isele Magazine in the past year.

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


The Isele Poetry Prize

The prize is for a suite of poems or single poems published in Isele Magazine in the past year.

The judges will publish the longlist of ten suites of poems or single poems in February, and a shortlist of five in March. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at the end of April.


The Isele Nonfiction 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 awards ceremony at the end of April.


Important Dates

  • Longlists Announced: February 21, 2022

  • Shortlists Announced: March 21, 2022

  • Winners Announced: April 26, 2022

Updates

We will occasionally update this page with the most recent news about the Isele Prizes, including the longlists, the shortlists, the winners, the interviews with our writers, and details about the awards ceremony.

The Isele Prizes Podcast

Watch out for our weekly conversations with our shortlisted writers about their writing processes, their inspirations, and the books they want us to read.

For now, you can listen to our book chat with the South African feminist scholar, Prof. Barbara Boswell.

Follow Us

To keep up with the lastest news about the prizes, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Sponsors


%d bloggers like this: