Following an initial shortlist of 11 released in July by the Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo-led Advisory Board, a final shortlist of three has emerged for The Nigeria Prize for Literature sponsored by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited.
The shortlisted entries are "A Good Mourning" by Ogaga Ifowodo, "Songs of myself: Quartet" by Tanure Ojaide and "The Heresiad" by Ikeogu Oke.
"A Good Mourning," published by Parresia Books, is Ifowodo’s fourth volume of poetry which focusses on the tragedy, ambiguity and contradictions of human experience recreated from poetic vision and language.
The author, Ifowodo is a lawyer, scholar, poet and development activist. He holds a doctorate in English (post-colonial literary/cultural studies) and a Master of Art in Poetry from Cornell University, USA.
"Songs of Myself: Quartet," published by Kraft Books, describes Ojaide’s entry as a volume presented in discursive lyricism. The collection of poems reflects the journey to the “deepest vicissitudes” of the poet himself.
Ojaide is a Fellow in Writing at the University of Iowa. He 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 Poetry Award.
Oke's "The Heresiad," 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.
Oke is a writer, poet and journalist, who studied at the Universities of Ibadan and Nigeria.
The panel of judges for this year’s edition of the prize is chaired by Prof Ernest Emenyonu of the University of Michigan at Flint, USA. Other members of the panel are 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 in 2013.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature prize which rotates yearly amongst four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature, now in its 13th year has produced an impressive succession of winners with the likes of Gabriel Okara and the late Prof. Ezenwa Ohaeto, whose volumes of poetry titled, The Dreamer, His Vision and Chants of a Minstrel, respectively, emerged co-winners of the 2005 prize.
The 2017 Prize for poetry which came with a cash prize of $100,000 had a total of 184 entries.
Next year’s prize will be for drama.