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Nduka Otiono wins African Literature Association award

NIGERIAN scholar-writer, Prof Nduka Otiono, has been awarded the Best Book of the Year Award –Creative Writing 2023 by the global intellectual body, African Literature Association (ALA), for his book, DisPlace.

He was awarded at a ceremony yesterday at the ALA annual conference in Tennessee, USA, “for an outstanding book of literature by an African writer published last year.”

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Nduka Otiono wins African Literature Association award 2

In his acceptance speech, Prof Otiono said: “DisPlace is a testament of these tributaries of the self, as well as a verbal collage of the flow of the river from my hometown Ogwashi-Uku in the Anioma area of Delta State, Nigeria, to the wide expanse of Obodo Oyibo.”

As a poet, Otiono bears “witness to the acclamation that poetry, in the words of the prolific American-Canadian poet, A. F. Moritz, ‘can become the world we actually live in, not just in verse, but on both sides of our front door’.”

For him, “‘both sides of our front door’ is a metaphor for what has been termed ‘The Dualities of Nduka Otiono.’ These dualities extend to my identity as an African Canadian and the various lives that I have lived and continue to live. As I affirm elsewhere, the elements of my dualities are ‘the branches of a river, flowing into one mainstream,’ which ‘reflect the work that I do as a creative writer, as a scholar, as an educator’.”

Prof Otiono thanked the African Literature Association (ALA) for the award; his publisher, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, publishers of Canada’s foremost poetry series, and Carleton University, his employer, for providing him with the platform to thrive as an instructor, interdisciplinary scholar and creative artist.

Prof Otiono disclosed that the book was completed against the soundtracks of the pandemic and the dirges that punctuated life as millions died from the stings of a marauding virus bearing spiky crowns.

The former general secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors added: “It is a testimony to the human capacity for resilience and a creative and robust response to tragedies embodied in the triumph over the pandemic, that life has returned to its pre-pandemic socialisation status. Such, too, is the power of poetry as a healing balm that uses words and sounds.”

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