December 2, 2023

Her poetry collection, Bad Diaspora Poems, won in the Best First Collection category.

By Hope Ibiale

Somali-British poet and essayist, Momtaza Mehri, has been announced as one of the winners of the 2023 Forward Prizes for Poetry. Her poetry collection, Bad Diaspora Poems, won in the Best First Collection category. Mehri will receive a cash prize of £5,000. Other awarded poets include Bohdan Piasecki, Jason Allen-Paisant, and Malika Booker. 

Forward Prize for Poetry 2023 winners - Afrocritik

Bernardine Evaristo, Kate Fox, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Andrés N Ordórica, Joelle Taylor, Khadijah Ibrahiim, Caroline Bird, Chris Redmond, Sue Roberts, and Jessica Traynor judged this year’s prize. 

The head jury, Evaristo, described the poetry collection as “an exceptional debut collection that reinvigorates ideas around diaspora, migration, and home.” Evaristo added, “Wide-ranging and ambitious, her poetry shimmers with erudition and linguistic exquisiteness while also having an emotional heart. Drawing on global cultures, Mehri is a truly transnational poet of the twenty-first century whose words pulsate out into the world at large.”

(Read also: South African Literary Awards (SALA) Unveils 2023 Shortlist

Mehri’s works have appeared in Vogue, The Guardian, Granta, and BBC. She has previously received prizes for her exceptional poetry, such as the Outspoken Page Poetry Prize, and she was named the Young People’s Laureate of London in 2018. 

Momtaza Mehri Best First Collection winner - Africa

The Forward Prizes for Poetry was founded in 1992 by William Sieghart. The prize was created to celebrate outstanding poetry and to expand the poetry community. Each year, the literary award accepts poetry collections published in the UK and Ireland. All the shortlisted works are collected in the Forward Book of Poetry

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