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Home » News » Weekend Life » Dema wins Sillerman book prize for African poets

Dema wins Sillerman book prize for African poets

Publishing Date : 05 February, 2018

Author :

Local poet, Tjawanga (TJ) Dema has been named as the winner of the 2018 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets for her collection, The Careless Seamstress. Dema will receive a $1000 cash award and publication of her manuscript as part of the African Poetry Book Series by the University of Nebraska Press, to be released in 2019.


Dema is a veteran poet who has published in several anthologies. Her own anthology, Mandible was published as part of Seven New Generation African Poets (Slapering Hol Press, 2014). She runs SAUTI Arts, an organisation which provides a community for like-minded artists where they can talk through their craft, its processes and source information on international programs that may be of use to them. She is an arts administrator and teaching artist.


She earned an MA in creative writing from Lancaster University. She was the Chairperson of The Writers Association of Botswana from 2010 to 2012 and a founding member (alumni) of Botswana’s acclaimed Exodus live poetry Collective. Her work has appeared in the Cordite Poetry Review, Elsewhere Lit, the New Orleans Review, and Read Women, an anthology. She has received fellowships from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Danish Arts Council/Foundation, and she was a 2016 Artist-in-Residence in the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern University.


She this week shared on her Facebook page that winning the prize was a “necessary endeavour”. “Congratulations to all the finalists. I am in excellent company, which is exciting for so many reasons. There are a trillion prizes out there but this one is, to me, such a wonderful and necessary endeavor that I am overwhelmed to be ...well, myself right now. All this rambling really just to say thanks to the APBF and its editors,” she said.


The finalists for the prize are Nawal Nader-French (Ghana/US) for her manuscript “A Hemmed Remnant,” Logan February (Nigeria) for his manuscript “Mannequin in the Nude,” Thabile (Ashley) Makue (South Africa) for her manuscript “‘Mamaseko,” Rasaq Malik Gbolahan (Nigeria) for his manuscript “Do Not Bury Me in this Land, and”Romeo Oriogun (Nigeria) for his manuscript “My Body Is No Miracle.” The Sillerman Prize is sponsored by philanthropists Laura and Robert FX Sillerman, whose annual bequest has continued to fund the work of the African Poetry Book Fund in its publishing and promotion of African poetry.

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