The Advisory Board for the Nigeria Prize for literature approved the release of the Longlist of 11 in the running for the 2022 edition on Friday.
The 2022 edition of The Nigeria Prize for Literature initially had 287 poets compete for the $100,000 cash award.
The Nigerian Prize for Literature, sponsored by Nigeria LNG to promote, encourage and reward excellence in writing, rotates yearly amongst four literary categories of prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature.
At the online announcement, the entries received were handed over to the panel of judges by the Chair of the Prize’s Advisory Board, Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo.
Adimora-Ezeigbo noted that the process would continue as “a shortlist of three is expected in September and hopefully, a winner in October.’’
The 11 books on the longlist released on Friday, in alphabetical order by their titles, are Augusta’s Poodle by Ogaga Ifowodo, Coming Undone As Stitches, Tighten by Iquo DianaAbasi, Dispossessed by James Eze, Ife Testament by Olusegun Adekoya and Memory and the Call of Waters by S. Su’eddie Agema.
Others are Nomad by Romeo Oriogun, The Lilt of The Rebel by Obari Gomba, The Love Canticles by Chijioke Amu Nnadi, Wanderer Cantos by Remi Raji, and Yawns and Belches by Joe Ushie.
The Chairman, Panel of Judges, presented the list to the Advisory Board for this year’s prize, Sule Emmanuel Egya, a professor of African Literature and Cultural Studies at Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University Lapai, Niger State. Other judges are Toyin Adewale-Gabriel and Dike Chukwumerije. Adewale-Gabriel is a Poet and fiction writer. Dike Chukwumerije is a Spoken Word and Performance Poet and an award-winning author.
The Judges described the longlist of eleven as the best of contemporary Nigerian Poetry, rich in experimentation with language, style and theme.
Accepting the recommended longlist, the Advisory Board commended the thorough work done by the judges. Reacting on behalf of the Board, Professor Akachi Adimora- Ezeigbo, the chairman, said the quality of work in the list shows that a lot of scrutiny and work went into selecting deserving poets who have distinguished themselves by the quality of their submissions.
A look at the 11 Shortlisted Poetry.
Augusta’s Poodle by Ogaga Ifowodo:
Ogaga Ifowodo’s journeys back in time to childhood in Augusta’s Poodle to exhume those arresting memories peculiar to children. The poet Ogaga Ifowodo (born May 14, 1966) is a Nigerian lawyer, scholar, poet, columnist/public commentator, and human rights, activist. He was awarded the 1998 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, given to writers “anywhere in the world who have fought courageously in the face of adversity for the right to freedom of expression.
Coming Undone As Stitches, Tighten by Iquo DianaAbasi:
Coming Undone as Stitches Tighten brings together intriguing poems of personal and communal consequence. It covers diverse experiences, including governance, the environment, love and longing, culture, and death. This second collection is a tribute to nationhood and humanity, evoking emotions that capture the true essence of art.
Iquo DianaAbasi, is a creative writer, performer and social activist. She writes prose, poetry and scripts for radio and screen. Her collection of short stories, Èfó Rírò and Other Stories was released in 2020.
She has also been shortlisted for the NLNG Nigeria prize for literature, and the ANA poetry prize. It has also been shortlisted for the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. Iquo is known to perform her poems with a touch of Ibibio folklore.
Dispossessed by James Eze:
The poetry Dispossessed has won the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Poetry Prize 2020, which he calls ‘poetry of innocence, transgression, and atonement’ and through it, he navigates delicate themes that range from the very personal through to the political and troubling national questions that beset many Nigerians on the ruinous union they have been made to endure. James Eze was born in Enugu, southeast Nigeria, shortly after the Biafran war. He was the pioneer literary editor of Sunday sun.
Ife Testament by Olusegun Adekoya :
Olusegun Adekoya is a writer and a Poet. He has published several journal articles on the writing of Wole Soyinka and a book on his poetry. My thesis is that Wole Soyinka’s exploration of Yoruba mythology, especially the Ogun myth of creation, informs his paradoxical vision of art, culture and the cosmos.
Memory and the Call of Waters by S. Su’eddie Agema:
This collection is about interrogating personal and collective memory juxtaposed with current realities woven into diverse facets from love, family, culture, politics, and depression to survival, and hope and redemption. It is an unpretentious collection that would remain in the mind of readers long after the last pages are read.
Nomad by Romeo Oriogun
Romeo Oriogun is a Nigerian poet and essayist. He is the author of Sacrament of Bodies and three chapbooks. He won the 2017 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Prize for poetry and The Future Awards African Prize for Literature.
A clear-eyed journey through the wreckages of history, Nomad is a song at every border, a lyrical rendering of movement and loneliness that presses into hope.
The Lilt of The Rebel by Obari Gomba
The Lilt Of The Rebel is a collection of poems by Obari Gomba, a professor of English at the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the poem won the 2022 Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) poetry prize. It is a rich collection of 108 poems on diverse human issues.
The Love Canticles by Chijioke Amu Nnadi
Amu Nnadi is a rising Nigerian star who hails from Enugu state, however he is a man across the geo-political zones as he lives in Rivers state, hence a port harcourt boy. The book ‘the love canticle’ attracted the topmost people in society across the south-south and east.
Wanderer Cantos by Remi Raji
Remi Raji, who is a skilled minstrel, embraces musicality in this section of the collection by utilizing rhymes and rhythm. The new collection from the seasoned poet is an engaging poetic voyage that features poems on diverse subjects such as nationhood, records of the poet’s peregrination, politics, religion, and the pervasiveness of the Covid-19 Pandemic, with emphasis on his personal experience.
Yawns and Belches by Joe Ushie
Joe Ushie was born shortly before Nigeria’s independence to his agrarian parents at Akorshie, Bendi in the Obanliku Local Government Area of Cross River State. He belongs to the group of Nigerian poets generally referred to as “third-generation” poets.
Your Crib, My Qibla interrogates loss, the death of a child, and a father’s pursuit of language able to articulate grief. In these poems, the language of memory functions as a space of mourning, connecting the dead with the world of the living. Culminating in an imagined dialogue between the father and his deceased daughter in the intricate space of the family, Your Crib, My Qibla explores grief, the fleeting nature of healing, and the constant obsession of memory as a language to reach the dead.