Lagos/London Poetry Competition Winners Announced

The Poetry Translation Centre, alongside our partners in Nigeria, Book Buzz Foundation are delighted to announce the joint winners of the Lagos/London Poetry Competition:

  • ‘Small Horizons’ by Isaiah Adepoju
  • ‘Fuck Diatrics’ by Muiz Ọpẹ́yẹmí Àjàyí
  • ‘Anamnesis’ by Rahma Jimoh
  • ‘I dream in my mother tongue’ by Sodïq Oyèkànmí
  • ‘Conversations with the Sea’ by Iheoma Uzomba

Selected from a shortlist of 20 by judges Amarachi Attamah, Efe Paul Azino and Kaozara Okikiola Oyalowo, the five winners will:

"The arduous task of selecting winners from a range of really good entries was offset by the joy of seeing the breadth of young literary talent they reflect. It will be wonderful to see the works published in a reputable journal like the Ake Review, and to hear them read at the Lagos International Poetry Festival later in October. I am excited to see what they will make of the opportunity, certain that we will be hearing from them for a really long time.”

- Efe Paul Azino, competition judge

The 15 commended poems from the shortlist were:

‘The soul finds its body in this one’ by Adebisi Amori

‘i dream of my ancestors and they appear in the clammiest sunlight’ by mandisa apnea

‘The Burning Home’ by Arimoku

‘The Nostalgic Storm’ by Oluwafemi Ayoola

‘Homecoming’ by Olayioye Paul Bamidele

‘Yoruba on My Dad’s Side’ by Rakaya Fetuga

‘Bittersweet’ by Kemi Lade

‘There Are Many Ways to Return Home’ by Roseline Mgbodichinma

‘How to return to an origin you are not familiar with’ by Aisha Mohammed

‘Bariga Lagos’ by Joshua Morley

‘A Heart for a Curse’ by Cynthia Nnadi

‘Homecoming’ by Pẹ̀lúmi Obasaju

‘Across the Niger River’ by Bryan Okwesili

‘I can’t pronounce my name’ by Mayomi Omogbehin

‘Here is Lagos’ by Seyi Omtoso

The winners, along with other talented young UK-based Nigerian-heritage poets, will be participating in the PTC's UNDERTOW development scheme. Now in its second year, UNDERTOW offers young poets the opportunity to expand their poetic practice by engaging with their multiple linguistic and cultural identities. The prize winners and the rest of the UNDERTOW cohort will receive one-to-one tutorials, writing workshops, and tailored talks from leading poets, translators and thinkers along with opportunities to develop professionally, publish their work and perform.

The Lagos/London Poetry competition is funded by the British Council - #BritishCouncilCEx2022

The 2023 UNDERTOW programme is funded by Cockayne - Grants for the Arts and The London Community Foundation.

Find out more about the Lagos/London Poetry Competition winners and commended poets.

The winners

Isaiah Adepoju lives in Osun State. A member of the Hilltop Creative Arts Foundation, he is a reader for Adroit Journal and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Nigeria Review. He is the recipient of the 2021 HIASFEST Star Prize and the 2021 Chima Ugokwe Prize for Essay, and has been shortlisted for the Ken Saro Wiwa Prize for Review. His debut novel is forthcoming from Abibiman Publishing (2023).

Muiz Ọpẹ́yẹmí Àjàyí (Frontier XVIII) studies Law at the University of Ibadan. He is an editor at The Nigeria Review, a poetry reader for Adroit Journal, 2021 ARTmosterrific writer-in-residence, and second runner-up for the PROFWIC Poetry Prize and the BKPW Poetry Prize. His work has been published or is forthcoming in 20.35 Africa, Frontier Poetry, Poetry Wales, Nigerian NewsDirect, Trampset and elsewhere.

Rahma Jimoh’s works have appeared in Agbowo, Kalahari Review, Tab Journal, Lucent Dreaming, Olongo Africa and Feral, among others. She was a 2020 Hues Foundation scholar and the lead representative for Poets in Nigeria, Olabisi Onabanjo University Connect Center. Her poem ‘Walking’ was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2020.

Sodïq Oyèkànmí writes from Ìbàdàn. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, his works have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry Wales, Strange Horizons, Lucent Dreaming, trampset, Brittle Paper, VAINE Magazine, Olney Magazine and elsewhere. His work was commended for the 2022 Adroit Poetry Prize.

Iheoma Uzomba is a student of English and Literary Studies at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. She is a spoken word artist and a performance poet. She is currently the poetry editor of The Muse no. 49 journal. Her poems have been published in Rattle, The Shore Poetry, Kissing Dynamite, The Rising Phoenix Review and elsewhere.

The commended poets

Adebisi Amori is a student, writer and poet from Ibadan, Nigeria. Her work focuses on mental health, culture and identity and has been published in diverse publications.

mandisa apena is a cancer sun from south London. They are an interdisciplinary artist interested in ecology, dreams and nature worship.

Arimoku is a Nigerian poet whose work explores the human condition
through various lenses to describe our collective experience. You can
find him on Instagram: ari.moku_

Olayioye Paul Bamidele is a writer, photographer, dramatist and student of mass communication. He is an advocate against sex and child abuse. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Spillword, Lunaris, Artlounge, Afreecan, Ice Floe, Kitchen Sink, Ninshar Art, Kissing Dynamite, Inverse Journal, Kreative Diadem and elsewhere.

Rakaya Fetuga is a writer from London of Nigerian and Ghanaian heritage. Rakaya is a former Barbican Young Poet (2021–22), Roundhouse Resident Artist (2019–20) and winner of the Roundhouse Poetry Slam (2018). Rakaya's commissions include work for the UNFPA, the BBC and Bloomberg Philanthropies with Vanity Fair, amongst others.

Kemi Lade has always been surrounded by art and creative elements. Unsurprisingly, it has become her primary source of expressing and processing her emotions. She loves reading, writing, watching anime, sketching, trying new recipes and being surrounded by loved ones.

Roseline Mgbodichinma is a Nigerian writer who is passionate about documenting women's stories. Her work has been published in Isele, Agbowo, Swwim, Native Skin, The jfa Human Rights Journal, Down River Road and elsewhere. She blogs about art, issues and lifestyle at

Aisha Kabiru Mohammed is a law student, poet and freelance writer from Kaduna State, Nigeria. Her poems and essays are published in Agbowo Art, Aster Lit and others. She is the winner of the inaugural Andrew Nok Poetry Prize. Aisha currently writes for Document Women's ‘Arewa Voices’ column and hosts two podcasts.

Joshua Morley is a poet, editor, queer Nigerian artist and undergraduate student at the University of Ibadan. A poetry-acquiring editor for FIYAH Literary Magazine and poetry editor at Second Skin, Morley's writing is published or forthcoming in Boy Brother Friend, [PANK], Corporeal and Agbowó, among others.

Cynthia Nnadi is a writer and freelance editor, born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. She is in the process of obtaining a Bachelor of Pharmacy from the University of Lagos.

Pẹ̀lúmi Obasaju is a Nigerian British scientist and storyteller who brings poetry into the day-to-day. She has performed her words at various events and festivals. Pẹ̀lúmi has been commissioned for several projects including an augmented reality candle and the consecration of the first black bishop of the diocese of London.

Bryan Okwesili is a Nigerian poet and storyteller. His works explore the interiority and tensions of queerness in a heteronormative culture. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and finalist for the Tupelo Quarterly Open Fiction Prize, 2021, and his work has been published in CRAFT, SLICE, SmokeLong Quarterly, Isele, Foglifter, PANK, Litro Uk and elsewhere.

Mayomi Omogbehin is 17 years old and was born and grew up in South-East London. Her family is Yoruba, and she grew up with both English and Yoruba being spoken in her household. She is studying A-level English, Spanish, Biology and Art History.

Seyi Omotoso is an award-winning poet and medical physicist. He won second prize at the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry Contest in 2020 and was shortlisted for the Wakaso Poetry Prize in 2021. His works have appeared on Kreative Diadem, Poem Hunter, Literary Voices and ROMP.