Lagos writers celebrate women in month of March

WritersAlthough the theme for the march reading event of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Lagos Chapter, is ‘Salute to the Master Builder: An Evaluation of the Growth of Lagos Literature,’ the International Women and Mothers’ Day celebration usually held in March swung the tide to women’s issues. The association’s held its reading event two Saturday’s ago at the Faculty of Arts Boardroom, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos.

ANA Lagos Chapter chairman, Mr. Femi Onileagbon stated as much when he said the meeting was basically organised to celebrate women, as March is reserved to celebrate International Women and Mother’s Day. 
Excerpts were read from Lagos of the Poets and Onomonresoa, both poetry collections edited by Odia Ofeimun and Obari Gomba. Wole Soyinka’s ‘To One in Labour,’ Ofeimun’s ‘Mother’ and Akachi Adimora-Ezigbo’s ‘Baby Mine’ were some of the poems read. Also, students of Department of English, University of Lagos read some of Ofeimun’s poems.

Again, the issue of poor application of contemporary writings by new authors in universities came to the fore at the event. Lecturers and students were accused of not doing enough to engage with contemporary works as against a fixation on old works. While welcoming guests, Onileagbon had noted, “The aim of this association is to raise young writers in Lagos. We help put them on the right track. We have experienced writers in our association who give constructive criticisms to upcoming writers. To promote Nigerian authors, their works should be embedded in schools curricula right from primary to tertiary levels. We are looking at the growth of Nigerian literature and authors”.

An audience member complained of laziness on the part of university lecturers who do not show interest in engaging with the writings of new authors and teaching them to their students. He argued that lecturers do not have the interests of the students and authors in mind when choosing texts for study.

a lecturer in the Department of English, Dr. Charles Akwen, quickly reacted to the claim. He said, “Most of the works are not even available to lecturers and students. If we lay our hands on good literary texts, we will definitely study them”.

In his intervention, AJ Dagga Tola calmed the situation when he raised concerns about the dilemma plaguing the publishing sector. According to him, “It is not the job of the author to publish his work. It is neither the fault of the lecturers nor the authors that new works are not being studied in schools. Rather, Nigeria’s poor economy should take the blame. The poor economy has highly weakened the reading culture of Nigerians. Lecturers should teach students with anthologies. By so doing, they can teach over 50 poets in a semester. Also, government should be involved in the mass production of books”.

Another audience member suggested online publishing by authors, as it would make their works go viral and fetch them wider readership.

On his part, Ofeimun told young poets to keep their spirits high and takeevery reading engagement seriously. As he put it, “Many of the poems found in anthologies started from readings like this. Many people find out their strengths and weaknesses in writing when they attend meetings like this because of the constructive criticisms they get from fellow and experienced poets”.

He advised young writers to seize every opportunity to submit their works for literary competitions, as doing so could be their opportunity of coming to the limelight.

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