‘Absence Of Clout Around Literature Diminishes Its Cause’
some researches before writing the play. In the end, one tries to reflect that some of the things happening in these camps are actually happening in and around us every day!
Then I was intent on the dramaturgy. A drama is just a mere piece of writing when it is lax in terms of the dramaturgical fixtures. That is what makes the story tenable for performance in the first place. I was sensitive to the dramaturgical details as I built I also feel that the play is capable of connecting to anyone who reads it. These are qualities, which make unique.
Like I said earlier, the judges have set criteria and prerogatives. They determine their position based on these. Those who sent in entries are only concerned about the competition guidelines. We do not determine the literary taste of the jury. However, I am confident that is a choice dramatic piece for any lover of language and literature. moment. Over the years, they have increased the prize money three times or thereabout. They have increased their profile and opened up the judging system the more. They need the efforts and support of other stakeholders to keep improving on the prize. Haa! The expectation can be likened to that of the evolution of the child. From conception you finished off the first draft, which looks like a scan picture of the baby. Then you polish as the child grows in you. Then you are expectant on the delivery day when you got the first printed copy from the publisher. You look at it like you would a fresh born baby. Then you send the child to school like an entry for the competition and hope that the child graduates with a first class! Already you have received progress report that your child has been ranked among the best in the school but there would have to be a jury to determine if the child would clinch the sole honors badge in the school. You see, all these phases are journeys with their different anxiety and expectations. It is difficult to determine which of the steps is most arduous.
which was also on the longlist of the 2014 edition of The Nigeria Prize for Literature didn’t get the desired market. I work in the educational environment, but I have a guiding principle never to sell my books to my own students for courses, which I am the tutor. And that ends the prospect of the book’s marketing. I can’t be thinking of writing, and teaching and trying to grow my family and then choke it up with marketing my books. I gave over 500 of out as complimentary copies.
And that is how it goes. You will see young writers literally forcing their books on people to buy. Most times it is shameful but they don’t have an alternative to recoup the money invested in the publication. There have been arguments whether Nigerians read or not. They do read, of course! But they read sensational stories from the internet, not literature. Even your closest friends just want a complimentary copy of your book as memento. Ask them for feedbacks and they start to scratch their heads! That is a big problem.
Those who read literary works in Nigeria are adherents of literature and they are still very scanty. We need to find ways to tell our stories. The debasement of Literature and History as school subjects has contributed to this debacle. Maybe if we start by elevating some of these subjects then we could directly encourage the reading culture. Then people and organizations don’t put their money in literature. And that is why I find what NLNG is doing fascinating. Other organisations would rather invest in musical shows or reality TV shows. So there is no clout around the discipline of literature, which also diminishes its cause.
Low patronage or poor reading culture is as a result of a lack of clout around the discipline of literature, so suggests theatre scholar, Dr. Soji Cole, who teaches dramatic arts at the University of Ibadan. He is among the final three in the race for The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2018, with focus on drama. In this interview with ANOTE AJELUOROU, Cole highlights some of the challenges facing creative writing in the country.
Most certainly there are. Most of them are very personal to me and they are humanitarian in nature. You know, some things you have dreamed of doing if you had the resources. I can’t state them in public because they are projects, which have some ethical considerations around them. Also, I had come across some set of brilliant young student writers in the past years that I have been teaching playwriting as an Arts Fellow at the University of Ibadan. Most of these students do not have hope of publishing their first series of writings. I have been collecting some of these works and have been in constant touch with even those who have left the university among these students. I hope to have an international compendium of writings for these students. My first literary work was published in an international compendium. I do hope that some of these young, brilliant writers will get such opportunity. Then I hope to help some of them publish their works privately, too.