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OVERVIEW

Tanure Ojaide’s sixteen poetry collections include Labyrinths of the Delta (1986), The Fate of Vultures (1990), The Blood of Peace (1991), Daydreams of Ants (1997), Invoking the Warrior Spirit: New and Selected Poems (1999), In the Kingdom of Songs: A Trilogy (2002), I Want to Dance & Other Poems (2003), The Tale of the Harmattan (2007), Waiting for the Hatching of a Cockerel (2008), and The Beauty I Have Seen (2010). His other writings are: a memoir, Great Boys: An African Childhood (1998); two collections of short stories titled God’s Medicine Men & Other Stories (2004) and The Debt-Collector and Other Stories (2009); three novels, Sovereign Body (2004), The Activist (2006), and Matters of the Moment (2009); and six books of literary criticism, including The Poetry of Wole Soyinka (1994), Poetic Imagination in Black Africa (1996), and Poetry, Performance, and Art: Udje Dance Songs of the Urhobo People (2003).

Born in the oil-rich but economically impoverished Niger Delta area of Nigeria, Tanure Ojaide was raised by his grandmother in a riverine rural environment. He attended a Catholic Grammar School and Federal Government College, Warri. Ojaide was educated at the University of Ibadan, where he received a bachelor's degree in English, and Syracuse University, where he received both the M.A. in Creative Writing and Ph.D. in English. A Fellow in Writing of the University of Iowa, his poetry awards include the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Africa Region (1987), the All-Africa Okigbo Prize for Poetry (1988, 1997), the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award (1988), and the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Award (1988, 1994, 2003, and 2011). Sovereign Body was a runner-up for The Commonwealth Literature Prize for the Africa Region in 2005. His non-fiction manuscript, Drawing the Map of Heaven: An African Writer’s Experience of America, was a runner-up for the Penguin Prize for African Writing (2010). Ojaide taught for many years at The University of Maiduguri (Nigeria) and is currently the Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of Africana Studies at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he teaches African/Pan-African literatures and arts.

He received a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for 1999/2000 academic year to collect and study the "Udje Dance Songs of Nigeria's Urhobo People." With a Fulbright fellowship, he taught at the University of Maiduguri and Delta State University, Abraka, in the 2002/2003 academic year. He has read from his poetry in Britain, Canada, France, Ghana, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain, The Netherlands, the United States, and South Africa. In July 2005 an international conference was held at Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria with participants from the USA, Canada, South Africa, Botswana, Cameroon, and Nigeria to discuss Ojaide’s writings. The Second International Ojaide Conference was held in July 2008 also at Delta State University, Abraka. He represented Nigeria in Poetry Africa 2005 at The University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa (October 10-16, 2005). Tanure Ojaide was the 2005 recipient of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s First Citizens Bank Scholar Award for his creative writing and scholarship. His poetry, a blend of oral traditions and modern techniques, has been translated into Chinese, Dutch, French, and Spanish.

 
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