The NLNG Prize For Literature has Released its Longlist and Opinions are Flying

The NLNG Prize for Literature and Nigerian poets have not enjoyed a fantastic relationship. This year’s award will determine how that relationship goes – a bit to the left or to the extreme right.

The Prize, which has gained some controversy over the years for either refusing to award any winner in the year for a prize in Literature for Younger Children or giving the prize money for the year for poetry to the Nigeria Academy of Letters, has longlisted 11 poets for this year’s prize. This year, the Prize had 184 entries. The longlist of 11 poets was announced earlier today by the jury. The announcement has, however, sparked a social media debate about the chances of the poets and the credibility of the 11 longlisted writers. Paul Liam, a Minna based writer and poet put up an update on Facebook in support of the shortlist. He wrote: “NLNG Price shortlist (sic) has been announced and it is a shocker to some jokers who play with words and expect recognition in return but that is not how Nigerian poetry works. As far as I am concerned, there are quality poets on the shortlist (sic) who know what African poetry is and what it should represent. Some of the people on the list are credible poets and they deserve to be so recognised. May the lucky one win.”

Some other writers and observers haven’t shared very entertaining opinions. Saddiq Dzukogi shared his thoughts: “But Romeo, you do realize (that) this NLNG list is bullshit!!!”
Some writers whose names can’t be mentioned in this article have used expressions such as ‘wawu’ to show their disapproval for the list.

Some of the longlisted poets have expressed gratitude. Humphrey Ogu, a staff of the University of Port Harcourt said it is a beautiful birthday present to be longlisted. He also added that: “I’ve always been very hopeful about it.” Another longlisted poet, Ebi Yeibo whose collection Of Waters and the Wild made the list said: “It is always a nice feeling to have any form for recognition for one’s modest work and contributions.”

We are hopeful that this year’s prize would come out great and draw more attention to poetry.

The Longlist

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

Written by Bura-Bari Nwilo for