Chickasaw Poet Ibe Liebenberg Wins 2024 Sowell Emerging Writers Prize

Ibe Liebenberg

Chickasaw Poet Ibe Liebenberg Wins 2024 Sowell Emerging Writers Prize

The editors of, the Sowell Family Collection, and Texas Tech University Press are delighted to announce the winner of the 2024 Sowell Emerging Writers Prize: Birds at Night, a powerful first book of poetry by Ibe Liebenberg. Liebenberg wins $1,000 and publication of Birds at Night by Texas Tech University Press in 2025.

Sowell Emerging Writers Prize Winner sealIbe Liebenberg, an enrolled citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, is a firefighter for the State of California and lecturer at Chico State University. He holds an MFA in poetry and fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts and has been published in POETRY, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Chico, California.

Set on and off the reservation, the powerful poems in Birds at Night explore themes of loss, trauma, PTSD, recovery, indigeneity, and family. The poems amplify the sensations and silences of interior moments of crisis and catharsis—a haunting meditation on what keeps us up at night. Drawing on the resilience of the natural world, from birds and wolves to fire and the changing climate, Birds at Night is defined by migration and adaptation, both in content and poetics.

“In whatever tongue they sing,” writes Liebenberg of the birds—and beauty and danger—that appear and disappear throughout the collection, Birds at Night is a stunning debut.

Learn more about the Sowell Emerging Writers Prize.