Leila Chatti of the University of Wisconsin Awarded the 2021 Luschei Prize for African Poetry

Tunisian-American poet Leila Chatti, the Mendota Lecturer in Poetry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been named the winner of the 2021 Luschei Prize for African Poetry.

Chatti was honored for her poetry collection Deluge (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). Award-winning author and poet Chris Abani judged this year’s prize. He stated that Deluge was “a deeply human, political and spiritual exploration of a biological crisis, this debut collection wrestles with all the big concepts and with a profound dark night of the soul. It takes on religion, God, patriarchy, culture, and the body and its many betrayals in lyrical and urgent poems. A highly anticipated and important book.”

The African Poetry Book Fund, which awards the prize is directed by Kwame Dawes, George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Glenna Luschei Editor of the literary journal Prairie Schooner. Established through the generosity of Laura and Robert F. X. Sillerman, the fund seeks to celebrate and cultivate the poetic arts of Africa.

A native of Oakland, California, Chatti holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a master of fine arts degree from North Carolina State University.

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