An international literary festival will be held in Ibadan, Nigeria later this month in honor of University of New Orleans English professor Niyi Osundare. The first-ever Niyi Osundare International Poetry Festival will take place May 26-27 at the University of Ibadan, where Osundare previously taught and received his undergraduate degree.
Osundare, a poet, dramatist and essayist, is one of Nigeria’s most revered literary figures. Last year he accepted the 2014 Nigerian National Order of Merit Award, the nation’s top prize in science, medicine, engineering/technology and the humanities.
According to festival organizers, participants will present the “best of traditional and contemporary poetry, music, dance and drama” in the two-day festival. Scholars will also discuss the content and style of Osundare’s published works.
“A conscious blend of art, culture and tourism deliberately set within the university community in the historic city of Ibadan, the undoubted literary capital of Africa, the maiden edition of the Niyi Osundare International Poetry Festival will attract the crème de la crème of tourists, researchers, artists and the press to the venue during the event,” said Professor Tunde Olaniyan, the festival director.
Osundare has authored 18 books of poetry, two books of selected poems, four plays, a book of essays, and numerous articles on literature, language, culture and society. He first came to the University of New Orleans as an associate professor of English in 1991-92 and returned to UNO from the University of Ibadan as a full professor in 1997. In 2011, he was named Distinguished Professor, one of the highest forms of recognition that a UNO faculty member can receive for accomplishments in research and teaching.
Osundare is a past winner of the Tchicaya U Tam'si African Poetry Prize, Africa's highest poetry prize; the Noma Award, Africa's most prestigious book award; and the African Literature Association's Fonlon/Nichols Award for "excellence in literary creativity combined with significant contributions to human rights in Africa."
Osundare was educated on three continents: He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria; a master's from the University of Leeds in England; and a doctorate from York University in Toronto, Canada.