FIRST BRITISH POET WINS WORLD’S BIGGEST PRIZE FOR YOUNG WRITERS
Zambian-British poet Kayo Chingonyi has been awarded £30,000 for Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize
Zambian-born British poet Kayo Chingonyi has been chosen from a shortlist of six authors to win the world’s biggest literary prize for young writers, the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize.
BAFTA-award winning actor and Swansea University fellow Michael Sheen and Dylan Thomas’ granddaughter Hannah Ellis announced Kayo Chingonyi (31 years old) as the winner of the prestigious award, with a prize sum of £30,000, at a ceremony held at Swansea University.Kayo was awarded his critically acclaimed debut poetry collection Kumukanda. This bold collection explores black masculinity and rites of passage for young black men in Britain today.
Awarded for the best literary work published in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama.
Kayo Chingonyi, winner of Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize has said: “I’m staggered. It’s wonderful to receive an award in the name of Dylan Thomas, whose work was introduced to me by a really inspirational teacher by the name of Rachel Baroni who introduced me to Under Milk Wood and I’ve been fascinated by his work since then. I want to take a moment to thank my teachers [who] gave me the confidence to continue writing the poems I was writing just for myself. It’s through the kind of inspiration of those people in my life that I continue to write and follow it through, and now poetry is the centre of my life, and there’s no sense in which writing couldn’t be a part of life. I’m very grateful”
Chair Dai Smith CBE has said, “Kayo Chingonyi has an original and distinctive voice and this collection, mature and moving, shows a young poet mastering form in various ways to reveal content which is both personal and immensely relevant to the social dilemmas of Britain today.”
Michael Sheen, BAFTA Award-winning actor and Swansea University Fellow has said, “I’d like to congratulate Kayo Chingonyi for winning the 10th Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize, for his debut collection of poetry Kumukanda, a stunning and hugely culturally relevant collection of poems that keenly explore black culture, masculinity and identity in Britain today. Having grown up near Swansea, I feel a very strong connection with Wales’ cultural heritage, and it is truly an honour for me to present an award that brings the best and most exciting young literary talent from around the world to Wales. I know first-hand how essential exposure to the written word can be for young minds, and I admire the Dylan Thomas Prize for continuing Thomas’ incredible literary legacy and inspiring the next generation of writers and creators from Wales and beyond. With this year marking the 10th anniversary of the prize, as well as the 65th anniversary of Thomas’ death, there is no better time to celebrate Dylan’s legacy and the wonder of the written word.”
2018 marks the 10th edition of The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize, named after Wales’ most lauded writer, Swansea-born Dylan Thomas who died sixty-five years ago this year, aged just 39 years old as one of the most important writers of the 20th century. The winner of this year’s prize will receive £30,000, and will be invited to Hay Literature Festival to discuss their work with Chair of Judges Dai Smith later this month.
Dylan Thomas captured the attention of the literary world at just 20 years old with his poem Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines, and had already reached international acclaim by the time his most famous work Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night was published. The prize invokes his memory to support the best young writers of today and nurture the talents of tomorrow.
Previous winners include Max Porter’s Grief Is The Thing With Feathers in 2016, Joshua Ferris’ To Rise Again at a Decent Hour in 2014, and Fiona McFarlane’s highly-acclaimed collection of short stores, The High Places, mostly recently in 2017.
Chaired by Professor Dai Smith CBE, Emeritus Raymond Williams Research Chair in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University, and historian and writer on Welsh arts and culture, this year’s judging panel also features: Founder and Director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Namita Gokhale; winner of the inaugural International Dylan Thomas Prize novelist and playwright, Rachel Trezise; poet, translator, and scholar, Professor Kurt Heinzelman; and author and Founder of London Short Story Festival, Paul McVeigh.
DEBUTS SHINE IN FEMALE-LED SHORTLIST FOR
WORLD’S BIGGEST PRIZE FOR YOUNG WRITERS
10th Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist announced
GWENDOLINE RILEY (UK)
SALLY ROONEY (IRELAND)
EMILY RUSKOVICH (USA)
GABRIEL TALLENT (USA)
CARMEN MARIA MACHADO (USA)
KAYO CHINGONYI (ZAMBIA)
Four debut authors make up the female dominant shortlist of six for the 10th edition of the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize which celebrates the brightest young writers in the world. Worth £30,000, it is the world’s largest literary prize for young writers aged 39 or under, open to writers from all nations, writing in English.
2017 sparked this century’s biggest gender equality movement, and this year’s female-led international shortlist brings to the fore crucial themes of sexual violence, toxic relationships, masculinity and racial divisions, that are relevant across the world, not just the UK. Just as Dylan Thomas’ universal poetry captured the grief and loss of innocence in post-war Britain, the prize showcases the breadth and diversity of literature that captures the political zeitgeist of today.
Featured on the shortlist this year are:
- Zambian-born poet Kayo Chingonyi (31) for his debut collection of poetry Kumakanda, which explores the rites of passage boys go through to become men, the intersection of masculinity and race and what it means to be British and not British, all at once.
- Cuban-American short-story writer Carmen Maria Machado’s (31) debut short story collection Her Body & Other Parties explores the eroticism, violence and emotion of the female experience through a potent mix of science fiction, ghost stories and fairytales.
- Six-time British novelist Gwendoline Riley (39) has been shortlisted for First Love, a compelling tale of toxic love and poisonous partnerships which has been shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Goldsmiths Prize.
- Irish debut novelist and Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Sally Rooney (27) has been called the “Salinger for the Snapchat generation” and her runaway success Conversations with Friends.
- Debut American novelist Emily Ruskovich (31) is shortlisted for her thriller hit Idaho, which tells the story of a mother suddenly killing her six-year-old daughter.
- American thriller author Gabriel Tallent (30) has been shortlisted for his debut novel My Absolute Darling, called “the year’s must-read novel” by The Times and ‘a masterpiece’ by Stephen King.