Nigerian poet wins Brittingham Prize in Poetry

D.M. Aderibigbe has been announced as the winner of the 2018 Brittingham Prize in Poetry for his full-length poetry manuscript, How The End First Showed. The prize was judged by Aimee Nezhukumatathil.

Out of nine hundred and fifty (950) entries, How The End First Showed was chosen as first place winner and will be published by University of Wisconsin Press, sponsors of the award. The win comes with sum of $1000.

Past winners of this prestigious award include Tony Hoagland, David Kirby, Patricia Dobler, Lisa Lewis; and past judges of the prize include Jean Valentine, Robert Pinksy, Cornelius Eady, Marilyn Nelson, Terrance Hayes, Maxine Kumin, Mary Oliver, C.K. Williams, Phillip Levine, Rita Dove, and many others.

A creative writing MFA graduate of Boston University, Aderibigbe is currently director of creative writing at Miami Arts Charter School at Homestead, Florida, and is author of the chapbook, In Praise of Our Absent Father (Akashic Press, 2016). He has received fellowships and scholarships from The James Merrill House, OMI International Arts Center, Ucross Foundation, Jentel Foundation, and Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

Speaking about his poetry, Aderibigbe says: “My poetry feeds imagination on memory. Memory is its primary tool. It is the ground upon which imagination germinates. So, memory is the livewire of my creativity. Although, it is imagination which now determines if the piece is a retelling or reliving or if its purpose is just to be understood.”

Aderibigbe talks about a theme central to his writing: “You know, my mind is conditioned to think of everything as having bodies. Even the air has its own body, which is why we feel it. It has been this way from childhood. As a child, the biggest stories I read were written on my mother’s face. Her expressions were the first language I learned.  But that’s as loud as my mother could go about what she went through. She didn’t have a voice, like most women of her time and place. Just her face and body. And if you weren’t close to her/them, you wouldn’t know any of these stories—these silent stories. For me, when I write, these bodies (and my sisters’) push themselves out of my head onto the page. These bodies always yearn to be heard and I’m just their agent.”