Tuesday 20 August 2013

Race for 11 writers to pick $100,000 Nigeria Prize for Literature begins .

The competitors:
Afam Akeh (Letter Home and Biafran Nights);
Amatoritsero Ede (Globetrotter and Hitler’s Children)
G’ebinyo Egbewo (Marsh Boy and Other Poems)
Remi Raji (Sea of My Mind)
Professor Femi Osofisan (Seven Stations up the Stairways.
Tade Ipadeola (The Sahara Testaments)
Obari Gomba (Length of Eyes)
Iquo Eke (Symphony of Becoming)
Nnadi Amu (Through the Window of a Sandcastle)
Obi Nwakanma (Birthcry)
Ogochuckwu Promise (Wild Letters).

The judges
Professors Romanus Egudu, Molara Ogundipe and Dr. Andrew Aba

On the three writers from the Diaspora who are listed among the finalists, chairman of the advisory board, Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo, said: “It’s a very good thing because the fear of everybody when the prize was thrown open to Nigerians anywhere in the world was that internal writers would be completely swamped but of the 11 , eight are internal writers. Internal writers are not doing too badly at all.”

Chika Unigwe, a Nigerian writer based in Belgium won last year’s prize with her ‘On Black Sisters’ Street’. The prize was thrown open to Nigerians at home and abroad in 2010.
Brief analysis on the chances of each writer.
Arguably Nigeria’s most prolific playwright, Osofisan has a number of laurels to his name. Besides, this is the second time he would be nominated for the prize sponsored by the Nigeria LNG Limited. His play, ‘Queen Amina’ made the shortlist of three for the 2005 edition won by Professor Ahmed Yerima.

Nwakanma, former Arts Editor of the Vanguard Newspaper is a poet, essayist and biographer. He is the author of the definitive ‘Christopher Okigbo: Thirsting for Sunlight’ and currently teaches Creative Writing and 20th Century Transnational Literatures at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, US.

Canada-based Ede once worked at Spectrum Books as an editor and won the 1998 ANA / Christopher Okigbo Prize for Poetry with his first collection of poems, ‘Collected Poems: A writer’s Pains & Caribbean Blues’. He is the Publisher and Managing Editor of Maple Tree Literary Supplement and was a contributing poet to the literary section of the defunct NEXT Newspaper. ‘Globetrotter and Hitler’s Children’ which has earned him the nomination was published in 2009.

Currently the Dean, Faculty of Arts at the University of Ibadan, Raji is the author of poetry collections including ‘Webs of Remembrance ‘, ‘Shuttlesongs America: A poetic guided tour’, ‘Lovesong for My Wasteland’ and ‘Gather My Blood Rivers of Song’ which was disqualified from the 1999 edition of the competition on a technicality.

Ipadeola, President of PEN Nigeria Centre and former legal adviser of the Association of Nigerian Authors , is an Ibadan, Oyo State-based lawyer. He had published two poetry collections, ‘A Time of Signs’ and ‘The Rain Fardel’ before ‘The Sahara Testaments’. In 2009, he won the Delphic Laurel in poetry with his poem ‘Songbird’ in Jeju, South Korea.

Former Editor of the Times Literary Supplement, Akeh is the author of the collection ‘Stolen Moments’ published in 1988. The graduate of the University of Ibadan now based in the US is popular among his generation of poets though he doesn’t publish much.

Though not a student of the arts, Amu, has over the years carved a niche for himself as a poet. ‘Voices from the Fringe’, his first collection of poems was edited by Harry Garuba and published by Malthouse Press in 1987. In 2002, his ‘The Fire Within’ won the maiden ANA/NDDC Gabriel Okara Prize for Poetry while he published ‘Pilgrim’s Passage’ in 2004. The Abuja-based poet is respected in literary circles.

The youngest writer on the list, Eke is best known as a performance poet. Born in 1980 and married with two children, it is Eke’s first published collection of poems that has earned her the nomination.

Gomba, Literature and Creative Writing lecturer in the Department of English, University of Port Harcourt, is fast earning a reputation as an ‘angry’ poet with his works including ‘Pearls of the Mangrove’, ‘George Bush and Other Observations’, ‘Canticle of a Broken Glass’, ‘Length of Eyes’ and ‘Candlelights.’

He is an unashamed agitator for the Niger Delta cause as is Egbewo, who is making a second appearance on the Nigeria Prize for Literature nomination list.

The second female shortlisted writer, Ogochukwu is a recipient of awards including the 1999 ANA/Cadbury Poetry Prize for her My Mother’s Eyes Speak Volumes and the 2000 Okigbo Poetry Prize for Poetry in Africa for her collection: Canals In Parado. She also made the 2005 shortlist of the NLNG.

{Courtesy, LNG Literature Prize}

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