On March 16, 2020, the poet, Odia Ofeimun, will turn 70. Already, bells have begun tolling for the bard. A committee of writers, critics and culture enthusiasts will be organising a large conference and festival for the legendary writer.
Also a playwright, essayist, drama producer and publisher, the conference takes as its focus the entire gamut of Odia Ofeimun’s creative, critical, journalistic and intellectual writings”, said Wumi Raji, associate professor of drama at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria, who is the Convener of the Feast.
The keynote address will be presented by Biodun Jeyifo, retired Professor of Comparative Literature and African and African American Studies, Harvard University, USA on the theme, “Taking Nigeria Seriously”, which derives from the title of one of the celebrant’s extended essays.
Ofeimun hogged the limelight in 1980 with the publication of his first poetry collection, The Poet Lied, by Longman, a work that pilloried the position of acclaimed poet, J.P. Clark, in his collection, Casualties. The book was distributed in England, but never in Nigeria, as Clark had claimed that the title poem referred to him derogatorily. He threatened to sue Longman, and Longman soft-pedaled by refusing to sell the book in Nigeria, but continued to sell abroad.
The Committee for Ofeimun @ 70 has made a Call for Papers. Said Prof. G.G. Darah, a member of the committee, “The papers are at the heart of the Odia Festival”.
Papers are to be presented on different aspects of Odia Ofeimun’s writings and/or activities. Suggested sub-themes include, but are not limited to, the following:
Odia Ofeimun: Poet and Poetry; Odia Ofeimun’s Dance Drama Productions; Odia Ofeimun as a Theorist and Critic of Literature; Nigerian Poetry: Major Voices, Other Voices; Nigerian Writing: Major Voices, Other Voices; Odia Ofeimun on Culture and Politics; Odia Ofeimun as Private Secretary to Chief Obafemi Awolowo; Politics and Political Developments in Nigeria since Independence; Nigeria: A House of Many Crises; Nigeria since 1999; Odia Ofeimun as a Public Intellectual.
Others are Odia Ofeimun in Politics; Hornbill House of Culture; Odia Ofeimun in Writers’ Organisations; Nigeria/Africa’s Writers’ Organisations; Odia Ofeimun: The Journalism Years; Landmarks in Nigeria Journalism; Nigeria’s Newspapers; and Odia Ofeimun as a Publisher
Paper abstracts, said organisers, should be 250 words maximum. Panel proposals should contain full names and addresses of members as well as the title and a 150 word abstract of the presentation of each of them. Submissions should be sent to: [email protected] Deadline is January 31, 2020. Enquiries should be addressed to:[email protected] or Wumi Raji, Convener, Odia Ofeimun @ 70 Committee Conference.