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Kayo pips budding authors to literary prize

AWARDED: Kayo Chingonyi

ZAMBIAN-BORN British poet Kayo Chingonyi was chosen from a shortlist of six authors to win the world’s biggest literary prize for young writers last week.

BAFTA-award winning actor and Swansea University fellow Michael Sheen and Dylan Thomas’ granddaughter Hannah Ellis announced Chingonyi, 31, as the winner of The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize, with a sum of £30,000, at a ceremony held at the Welsh University.

Kayo was awarded for his critically acclaimed debut poetry collection Kumukanda. This bold collection explores black masculinity and rites of passage for young black men in Britain. It is an ex- ploration of what it means to be black and British 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 ction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama.

Chair, Dai Smith CBE, said: “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.”

Sheen 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.”

The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is named after Wales’ most lauded writer. Swansea-born Thomas, who died when he was just 39 years old, is regarded as one of the most important writers of the 20th century and is best known for his drama Under Milk Wood.

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