The Advisory Board for The Nigeria Prize for Literature, led by Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo, Saturday announced a long list of 11 books, drawn from 184 entries, in the running for the 2017 edition of the competition.
The shortlisted authors listed in alphabetical order are as follows:
Akinlabi, Peter – Iconography
Ekwuazi, Hyginus – One Day I’ll Dare to Raise My Middle
Finger at the Stork and the Reaper
Gomba, Obari – For Every Homeland
Ifowodo, Ogaga – A Good Mourning
Lari-Williams, Seun – Garri for Breakfast
Ogu, Humphrey – Echoes of Neglect
Ojaide, Tanure – Songs of Myself: Quartet
Oke, Ikeogu – The Heresiad
Othman, Abubakar – Blood Streams in the Desert
Verissimo, Jumoke – The Birth of Illusion
Yeibo, Ebi – Of Waters and the Wild
The list is a potpourri of long-standing poets. Peter Akinalabi is a Masters Degree holder and a Poet Activist. His poem, Moving, won the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition. Hyginus Ekwuazi is from the academia and a professor of media arts. He was Director General, Nigeria Film Corporation and currently acts as judge in several awards and festivals.
Obari Gomba is both poet and playwright. He currently teaches in the Department of English Studies at the University of Port Harcourt while Ogaga Ifowodo is a diasporan who teaches poetry and literature at Texas State University-San Marcos in the United States.
Seun Lari-Williams is a poet, musician and a practicing lawyer. Humphrey Ogu on the other hand is an Information Officer at University of Port Harcourt. He was a former Acting Secretary of the Rivers State branch of ANA (Association of Nigerian Authors) and a pioneer secretary and co-founder of SeaView Poetry Society.
Tanure Ojaide is regarded as a socio-political and ecocritical poet and has won major national and international poetry awards, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Africa Region, the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Poetry Prize, among others.
Ikeogu Oke is a social commentator, media and communications expert, and publisher. He is currently the Media Adviser to the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Power (PTFP).
Dr Abubakar Othman, on the other hand, is a lecturer of Department of English at the University of Maiduguri. He was previously the commissioner for Information in Adamawa State and Director General and founder of the Adamawa State Agency for Museums and Monuments.
Jumoke Verissimo is a familiar name in the literary world and prolific is several genres. She is a multiple award winner and her poems have been translated into Italian, Norwegian, French, Japanese, Chinese, and Macedonian. Ebi Yeibo, an English Language scholar and social critic, is currently with the Department of English, Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State.
The list was presented by the panel of judges for this year’s prize led by the chairperson, Prof. Ernest Emenyonu, professor of Africana Studies at the University of Michigan-Flint, USA. Other members of the panel include Dr Razinat Mohammed, associate professor of Literature at the University of Maiduguri and Tade Ipadeola, poet, lawyer and winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literature, 2013.
Members of the Advisory Board for the Literature Prize, besides Professor Banjo, two-time Vice-Chancellor of Nigeria’s premier university, University of Ibadan, are Prof. Jerry Agada, former Minister of State for Education, former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, and Professor Emeritus Ben Elugbe, former President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and president of the West-African Linguistic Society (2004-2013).
A shortlist of three is expected in September and a possible winner will be announced by the Advisory Board in October.