Akosua Afiriyie-Hwedie

3rd Place Winner of the 2020 Emerging Poet Prize

“In this poem so much power arrives from the author’s ability to orchestrate form and content so that the whole is a symphony. “My great great grandfather’s head / looks nothing like my great great grandfather” it begins, going from the London museum to the horrors of history and the present, from Wallace exhibit to the unending headache, which is, of course, also a heart-ache, history-ache. Which means, as the poet tells us, that “grief is the distance from Ghana to London”. It is remarkable how much this poem can do, as it allows an epic proportion unfold in the lyric form. Very moving and beautiful.” — Guest Judge, Ilya Kaminsky


Akosua Zimba Afiriyie-Hwedie is a Zambian-Ghanaian poet who grew up in Botswana. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan. She is the winner of Button Poetry’s 2019 Chapbook Contest (Born in a Second Language, forthcoming in 2021), as well as a Hopwood and a Meader Family Award. She is a finalist of The Brunel International African Poetry Prize, The Palette Poetry Spotlight Award, The Furious Flower Poetry Prize and Wick Poetry Center’s Peace Poem contest. Akosua has received fellowships from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program, Callaloo and the Watering Hole. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pank, Kweli, Obsidian, Birdcoat Quarterly, Wildness, The Felt and elsewhere. She is currently working on her first poetry collection.