Ifowodo, Ojaide, Oke vie for N30.6m literary prize

Prof. Tanure Ojaide

Three Nigerian writers have emerged finalists for the country’s biggest literary diadem, The Nigeria Prize for Literature. The trophy, worth $100,000 (N30.58 million), is sponsored by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG). The trio are Dr. Ogaga Ifowodo, Prof. Tanure Ojaide and Ikeogu Oke. The rotational prize for this year is on poetry.

A statement by the company’s General Manager, External Relations, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, said the lucky treble made the journey from a shortlist of 11 released in July by the Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo-led Advisory Board.

Their entries were A Good Mourning by Ifowodo; Songs of Myself: Quartet by Ojaide and Oke’s The Heresiad.

Ifowodo’s work, published by Parresia Books, is his fourth volume of poetry. It focuses on the tragedy, ambiguity and contradictions of human experience recreated from a poetic vision and language.

A lawyer, scholar, poet and development activist, Ifowodo holds a doctorate in English (post-colonial literary/cultural studies) and a Master’s of Art in Poetry from Cornell University, United States.

Ojaide’s artistic piece, published by Kraft Books Limited, explores paradoxes in contemporary times presented in discursive lyricism. It reflects the journey to the deepest vicissitudes of the adventurer himself.

A Fellow in Writing at the University of Iowa, Ojaide has won several awards, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Africa Region, the All-Africa Okigbo Prize for Poetry, the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award and the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Poetry Award. He is also a recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) 2016.

Oke’s The Heresiad, also published by Kraft Books Limited, employs the epic form in questioning power and freedom. It probes metaphorically the inner workings of societies and those who shape them.

A writer, poet and journalist, Oke studied at the Universities of Ibadan and Nigeria, Nsukka. His creative works include Salutes Without Guns, The Tortoise and the Princess, The Lion and the Monkey, In the Wings of Waiting and Where I was Born.

The panel chair for this year’s event is Ernest Emenyonu, a Professor of African Studies at the University of Michigan-Flint, United States. Other judges include Dr. Razinat Mohammed, an associate professor of literature at the University of Maiduguri and Tade Ipadeola, a poet, lawyer and winner of the prize in 2013.

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