After few weeks of social media fuss, Ikeogu Ike has been announced as the winner of NLNG Prize for this year. His book, Heresaid, was selected for the most highest prize for literature in Nigeria. The prize which was heavily contested was a race of 184 poets earlier. However, after few weeks of deliberation on the books that merited shortlist, a shortlist of three poets was released with Ikeogu Ike vying for the prize alongside Ogaga Ifowodo and Tanure Ojaide. The three books, Ogaga Ifowodo’s A Good Mourning and Tanure Ojaide’s Songs of Myself have received rave reviews in recent weeks from Kola Tubosun and Onyeka Nwelue among others.
Ikeogu Oke is a Nigerian poet, writer and journalist. His poetry and short fiction have been published in the United States, the UK, Nigeria and India since 1988. In 2010 the Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer selected Salutes without Guns, his second collection of poems, as one of her two Books of the Year for The Times Literary Supplement (TLS), describing him as “a writer who finds the metaphor … as perhaps only a poet can.”
His winning entry, Heresaid, is his fifth collection speaking of which which Kola Tubosun wrote:
But seriously, the work packs within it a lot of history, philosophy, narrative, culture, allegory, politics, and tradition, rather unapologetically. Without the author’s name, one might confuse it for a work by Shakespeare of any of the writers of the old traditions defined by form, rhyme, and musicality. Only slightly, of course. References intrude from Nigerian (and African) socio-political issues enough to define the work as one addressed to a specific, even if global, audience. And to that idea of musicality, the author graciously provided musical notes with which the poem can be sung.