Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Artist Call-out: Storymoja Festival 2015

Storymoja is accepting applications from artists for the 7th Edition of the Storymoja Festival. The festival is billed to hold from 16th to 20th of September 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.

You can also apply for the Premier of the Storymoja Festival – Careerpedia Edition in Nakuru, Kenya. This will hold on 28th and 29th of May 2015.

The deadline for submissions is 15th January 2015.

Submit your application here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Author Speaks with Gbolahan Badmus

This is the second in a series of interviews featuring the seven OAU alumni who put together Sandstorms in June. You can download the anthology here.

Gbolahan Badmus’ short stories and poems have appeared in Kalahari Review, African Writers, Brittle Paper and the Guardian Newspaper. He studied law at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife. He has been selected to participate in a 2015 Writivism workshop. 

Gbolahan Badmus

AA: ‘Fist of Unity’ is about the events that took place on OAU campus on July 10, 1999. Where were you at that time? 
G.B: On July 10, 1999, I was still in primary school. On that particular night, I must have been asleep in my room, trying to put a tight rein on my bladder. 

AA: When did you learn about the attack?

G.B: One of my uncles told me that he almost ran into the cultists that night. He was on campus to read and shortly after he passed through a particular route, the cultists went through the same route.  Later, as an undergraduate in OAU, I heard different accounts of the events and got to know the full implications of what happened that day. Every year, the student union shows a film about the events to mark the anniversary, so it is almost impossible to graduate from OAU without taking your own version of the incident with you.

AA: Did you ever live in Fajuyi Hall? Was there any consciousness on days other than July 10 about students who were killed there?
G.B: Yes I did. In fact, my first four years in OAU were spent in Faj, until I had to move to town, I’m proudly Fajuyan. The awareness was everywhere, not just in Faj. Sometimes it was subtle, at other times it was not. July 10 found its way into the discussions at new buka and arguments in the halls of residence. The memory of that day was even invoked during the continuous alutas that lengthened our years in school.

A.A: Prisoner's wreath made me laugh. It is really an OAU love poem. From Geology GPs to ODLT and Awo Boys. How long did it take you to write it? Did Ms Abacus (imagined or real) study in OAU?

G.B: Haha. Well, well. After writing my final exams, I wanted to write a collection of poems using the notable buildings of OAU as metaphors for several emotions and experiences. When I had the opportunity to contribute to Sandstorms in June, I decided to use that idea, but I had to make some adjustments and squeeze the concepts into a single poem. I incorporated the love theme and some humour to ease the reading.  I cannot really specify the length of time it took to put it down. It was something I kept on editing and editing, till I finally submitted it for Sandstorms in June. If I am to guess, it probably took a month or so. And as for Ms Abacus, she was a crush at the time I wrote the poem. The thing is, she doesn't even know she is the one!

A.A:  Are you still working on the poetry collection you mentioned?
G.B: For now, it's on hold. I'm trying to deal with several things including my bar finals. But who knows, Lady Inspiration may decide to pay a visit soon.

A.A: What is OAU to you?
G.B: O.A.U, to me, is as it is called, an Institution of Learning. Not just academics but so much more. 
Gbolahan Badmus tweets via @badmusace and blogs here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

African Romance Novels

Ankara Press, an Imprint of Cassava Republic press recently launched six  novels. The under-listed titles are now available on their website.

Love's Persuasion by Ola Awonubi
A Tailormade Romance by Oyindamola Afinnih
A Taste of Love by Sifa Asani Gowon
A Black Sparkle Romance by Amara Nicole Okolo
Finding Love Again by Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam
The Elevator's Kiss by Amina Thula

The novels are currently going for just N500, so hurry and grab your copy now!If you are interested in writing for Ankara Press, get in touch with the team via Submissions@ankarapress.com.
Read the submission guidelines here. 
Buy the novels here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Author Speaks with Damilola Yakubu

This is the first in a series of interviews featuring the seven OAU alumni who put together Sandstorms in June. You can download the anthology here.

Damilola Yakubu‎ is a lover of stories and art who takes pleasure in creating them. In 2013, he was a participant at the Farafina Creative Writing Workshop. His work has been published under Kachifo's imprint on Okadabooks.com and in Reflections of Sunshine: An Anthology of Short stories. He came third in Naijastories' 'Give Us Your Best Short' contest in 2013.
Damilola Yakubu performing a poem from Sanddstorms in June at TEDx Ife 2014

AA: I understand that you put Sandstorms in June together. How did you decide on this structure and subtitles for each section?
DY: Yes, I put the pieces together and arranged them. We, Dapo Babatunde and I, tried to find 'real' images that were created with words in each poem. ‎ So, each poem has an image, or two, portraying the thematic preoccupation of the poem. I broke down the collection into parts signifying the parts a student goes through in Obafemi Awolowo University; the contributors each spent 5 years - Part 1 - 5. ‎The chapbook opens with the 'Debut' which is an image of an old man walking away from a terminal and closes with 'Fin' - an image of a young boy on a beach looking across the ocean into the horizon. This was to signify the antithesis of  'leaving school' - at the beginning of the work we are old men with our school years behind us, and by the end of the work we are young boys with our dreams ahead of us.‎ The title of the chapbook was decided on through a consensus vote. Each contributor suggested a title(s) and we voted for the most appropriate one. Sandstorms in June was suggested by Tomiwa Ilori.‎

AA: I have to ask, why isn't any woman featured in this anthology?
DY: We wanted to have a woman's work in the anthology, but this work started as an idea pursued by a camaraderie of writers. And by the time we realized that we were all men, it was too late - the work was ready for publication. It was a big oversight and I wish we had realised earlier.

AA: ‘Maximum Shishi’ focuses on the extra judicial beatings that are such an integral part of OAU's student culture. Did a particular incident inspire this poem?
DY: Yes, a particular incident inspired the poem; I have once, in a little way, been at the receiving end of its lash.

AA: What was your reaction the first time you witnessed a shishi session in progress?  Did it change over time?
DY:  I first witnessed it in my first year. To be honest, I remember feeling excited, then nauseated by the sight of the victim's' gashes.  Over the years, I also felt pity and anger. I even remember crying once.  Eventually, I became indifferent. I think most students ‎found it easier to look away because they never got close to the victims - were never in their shoes, or close friends with them.

AA:  Do you think ‘shishi’ it is a manifestation of deep mistrust in the system?
DY: Yes, perhaps a mistrust in the school's punitive system, in addition to the idea that it is better for the ‘guilty’ person to be beaten than to be expelled from school.

AA: Nevertheless, do you think this is ever the right response? Even if the culprits are caught 'red handed'?
DY: It is absolutely the wrong response. It is barbaric, inhumane and not a sign of intellectual reasoning that the university supposedly cultivates. Yes, they are given a 'fair trial' but it is absolutely wrong to equate every crime to a crude penalty like inflicting injury. I believe in punishment as a mechanism for reform not torture or blind revenge. Maximum shishi does not seek to reform; there are several offenders who just commit the same crime, over and over again.‎

AA: What is poetry to you?
DY:  Poetry is expression - putting into, and in between, words all that can, can't, must and mustn't be said. It is the journey to and from the comprehensible and incomprehensible.

AA: What is OAU to you?
DY: OAU is the crucible in which I lost myself and found myself, the cave in which I shed my skin.

 Damilola Yakubu tweets via @DamiYakubu and blogs  here

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Brunel University African Poetry Prize

The Brunel University African Poetry Prize is an annual poetry prize of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa. The prize is open to poets who were born in Africa, or who are nationals of an African country, or whose parents are African. The prize is for ten poems exactly in order to encourage serious poets. These poems may, however, have been published. Only poets who have not yet had a full-length poetry book published are eligible. Poets who have self-published poetry books or had chapbooks and pamphlets published are allowed to submit for this prize. The 2015 prize is open for entries from 1/10/14 to 30/11/14.
Learn more here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Author Speaks with Bura Bari Nwilo

A.A: How long did it take to write this book?

N.B.B: I started Diary of a Stupid Boyfriend in 2012. It was just a way of finding sanity in a relationship I was struggling with. I knew I was not doing the things I should have done. They were in my head and I knew that if I did them, things would work. But then how many persons do the good things that their spirit leads them to do? 
When we were in the final phase of the relationship, I started writing. Many of the recorded events happened but are spiced up to suit my audience. The pieces could have been more than the nine I collected into the book but then they would hurt. I decided to play around the subjects, took away the unwanted elements and that was it! I have readers who have core literary tastes. I have others who love the free side of Nwilo. So when you read the book, you’ll see a lot of me, basically the experimental writer.

 A.A: I see that you have pieces with this title on blogs. Why did you decide to put it together in book form?
 N.B.B: I wanted my writing to pay my bills. I spend a lot of time online. I update my status and I don’t get paid. I felt the things I had written for blogs could be collated. I tried including other articles but they were mostly political and I don’t have the strength for politics now. The diary worked better. I read through the pieces and felt that since they had been viewed and loved by a lot of people, some of those people could want it in book form. That was it.

A.A: What has the process of going from web to print been like?
N.B.B: The poet, Maxi Uzoatu says anything that’s not printed but is solely on the internet isn’t written. Although the statement is greatly flawed, I do think going from web to print indicates another level of commitment to the craft. The online platform provides you with an audience that may read your book when it is in paperback and that is good. I asked my friends on social media to share the book cover and it worked. It showed that the online community has invested in me as a young writer. Maybe if I had released the book in 2012 it could have been poorly received. But I think it will be well received when it comes out in October.
A.A: Are you done with the stupid boyfriend? Will you continue to write more stupid boyfriend pieces?
N.B.B: Yes. I think I am done with the Stupid Boyfriend title. I may move unto something else. It may be my short stories or poetry. It may be my other collection of non-fiction essays. I like to write about myself and my experiences. My life is a bit better now. I am in another relationship. I am trying not to make the mistakes I made in the previous one. Although it gave me a book, I miss it. 

A.A: Who are your major literary influences?
N.B.B: My influences vary. I started writing non-fiction after reading Teju Cole’s Everyday is for the Thief. I love Dambudzo, he has done quite a lot to my mind. Ken Saro-Wiwa also influenced me a great deal. When I am online, people like Pa Ikhide help me. His writings and the humour are very enviable. The list is endless.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Awele Creative Trust Award

This award is open to writers between the ages of 19 and 26 who are resident in Nigeria. 
Writers can submit one previously unpublished short story for consideration. 
There is a cash prize of N50,000 for the winning author and a six month online writing course with an ACT mentor.
Submissions should be made by e-mail only to awards@awelecreativetrust.com and awelecreativetrust@gmail.com.
Entries will be accepted from September 1 – November 1, 2014.  A shortlist of 5 will be announced on January 5, 2015 and a winner will be announced on January 20, 2015.
You can learn more here.
Best of Luck!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Caine Prize Short Story Surgery at the Port Harcourt Book Festival

The Caine Prize Story Surgery will be a day-long session including an exploration of the short story form and feedback and advice to selected candidates.
Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, deputy chair of the Caine Prize for African Writing is joined by twice shortlisted for the Caine Prize (2008 & 2012), writer Stanley Onjezani Kenani and 2013 shortlisted writer, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim at the Port Harcourt Book Festival 2014 for this unique opportunity. 
To submit your work for consideration, submit an unpublished story of 1,500 - 2,000 words toinfo@portharcourtbookfestival.com  by 19 September2014.
Caine Prize rules of eligibility apply. Eligible participants are those born in or are citizens of an African country, or have one parent who is African by birth or nationality.

Learn more here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Register for the Ake Arts and Book Festival

The second edition of the Ake Arts and Book Festival will begin on 18th of November 2014. This year's guests include Abubakar Adam IbrahimBernardine Evaristo, Binyavanga Wainaina, Dami Ajayi, Molara Wood, Okwiri Oduor,  and of course W.S himself. The guest list is a long one and the line up is worth much more that the N1,000 registration fee. If you are in Nigeria  in November, I'm so sure this will be worth your while.
You can register now on the website right here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cordite Books Crime Fiction Contest Winner Announced

Cordite Books has announced the winner of its 2014 Crime Fiction Contest. The winner is Blessing Musariri from Zimbabwe. She won with the manuscript; “Useful Knowledge for a World Class Detective”. Blessing Musariri will receive $1000 plus a Cordite Books publishing deal.
Blessing Musariri has published four children’s titles, two of which have won national awards in Zimbabwe. She has also written short stories and poems published in various international anthologies and online magazines.  She holds a Masters degree in Diplomatic Studies from the University of Westminster.
The second place winner is Demola Adeniran with “Descent of the Hills” and third place is David Oritogun with “The World is Your Oyster.” They will receive $250 and $200 respectively. The competition was announced in 2013 and received over 70 manuscripts from all over the continent.
Helon Habila, award winning author and editor of Cordite Books, describes the winning story as “Intelligent and well written. A hardcore detective story in the tradition of No 1 Ladies Detective Agency – but totally original in its own way. The protagonist is a 25 year old, plucky, ambitious, girl with an interesting back story.”
Read more about the announcement here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Jonathan Cape Open Submissions

Just in case you missed the news, Jonathan Cape is open for submissions throughout June. Cape does not ordinarily welcome unsolicited submissions, so if you have a novel, a novella or a collection of short stories that is ready for submission, this might be your chance. All  you need to do is email an initial fifty pages of prose fiction and a covering paragraph to capesubmissions@randomhouse.co.uk. 

Jonathan Cape started out as an independent publisher in 1921 and is now  an imprint of Penguin Random House. After last year's merger, the conglomerate became the largest trade book publisher in the world. They publish A. Igoni Barret, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan, A.L Kennedy and many others.
Learn more about Jonathan Cape here.
Learn more about the Cape's submission requirements here.
What She Thinks: You should give this a try even if the novel or collection is not yet pitch perfect. You could polish the first fifty pages, send that in, keep your fingers crossed and keep working hard on the other sections of the novel. Best of luck!