Kayo Chingonyi wins Dylan Thomas Prize for Kumukanda

ZAMBIAN-BRITISH poet, Kayo Chingonyi has won the Swansea University Dylan Thomas prize for young writers. Chingonyi has been awarded £30,000 for his debut collection of poems titled Kumukanda. This award is the most prestigious honour for young writers across the world and, at 31, Kayo Chingonyi, who was born in Zambia in 1987 but moved to the UK at age six, is the first British poet to have received the award for the “best literary work in the English language by an author 39 or under”.

Kayo Chingonyi. Photograph: Naomi Woddis

Kumukanda is a lyrical journey of self-exploration as well as the exploration of racial differences which still exist across the world, in which he also explores masculinity and identity.  Kumukanda is translted as “initiation”, which as a collection of poems is both nostalgic and contemporary. Kumukanda is a name given to the passage of a young boy from the Luvale tribe, who must pass through in order to become a man. This text explores the idea of self, both real and perceived as well as race, masculinity and literature. With rave reviews to its name, Kumukanda is fresh and culturally relevant. With an original and a lyrical tone, he explores profound themes of belonging and identity while being relatable.

by Anshudha Garimella