New Literary Prize Seeks Hybrid Work in Amharic, Arabic, English, Somali, Tigrinya

Organizers have announced the launch of “Europe’s newest, boldest literary prize,” for hybrid and collective writing, called “To Speak Europe in Different Languages”:

The closing date for the first prize is June 1, 2020, and it promises to carry a €2,000 reward, as well as publication by Specimen Press and translation into several languages.

This year, the prize has five “focus languages”: Somali, English, Amharic, Arabic, and Tigrinya.

The prize — co-founded by Sulaiman Addonia and Vanni Biannconi of Specimen Press, will be managed by the Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (In Exile). It’s been sponsored by the European Cultural Foundation.

On Twitter, Addonia wrote that the focus languages “are chosen in order to subvert & eradicate the dominance of one language or form over another in literary prizes.” He added that the winner “will be invited to the award ceremony at the Babel Festival.”

From the Specimen website:

To Speak Europe in Different Languages. Hybrid and collective writing competition prompts every speaker to be part of a linguistic minority: we’ll do this by inviting people to feel entitled to their linguistic localism or personal idiolect, and at the same time to connect with those who live very different lives and yet might share similar doubts and gifts.

The rules:

1) The submitted texts can be written in any language, but must be accompanied by a translation into one of the Focus languages: Amharic, Arabic, English, Somali, Tigrinya. The shortlisted texts will be read and judged both in the original and the translation. The Focus languages are chosen in order to subvert and eradicate the dominance of one language or form over another. Some of the Focus languages will change each year.

2) The submitted texts must have a Europe-related theme, or be set in Europe.

3) The submitted texts must satisfy at least one of these hybridisations:

– Linguistic hybridisation: it can be of any shape or form, involving a mix of languages, registers or dialects;

– Human hybridisation: the texts must be written in collective ways, either people working on the text together, or involving fieldwork, interviews, archival material, etc., in order to touch upon multiple strata of society and elements of reality. The way such experiences and procedures become language and are expressed in written form is paramount;

– Genre hybridisation: the texts can be prose or poetry, essay or narrative, but they all should, in fact, be more than one of these things alone, in order to overcome clear-cut literary definitions and question the categories related to writing as well as to reading.

4) The submitted texts can be published or unpublished; each person can submit one text only.

5) The submitted text must be accompanied by a short description (300 words max) of how the texts meet the required guidelines on hybridisation.

6) The word limit is 2,000 words.

For more, visit the Specimen Press website.