There is a need to expand the literary space to accommodate everyone with a noble idea to share with humanity. But often, the chances and choices are few, too few, especially for writers to share from their ever fertile imagination that is ready to extend the boundary of culture and society with a view to enriching them.
Literary Star Search, as an affiliate company of Creative Alliance Nigeria Limited (Creative Alliance for short), is committed to broadening the literary landscape to accommodate more conversation with and interrogation of culture and society. With values believed to be going down the wrong way, it’s only literature and its literary men and women that can halt the slide through reinventing social order by bringing the past to bear on the future at the junction of the present in a seamless manner so as to preserve the health of humanity.
So, out there are stars yet undiscovered, who, nonetheless, have so much to say to humanity to enoble society and culture. The rest of us dare not ignore them. They need to be searched out, evaluated and rewarded, and their messages to society harnessed, like those gone before them – Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, J.P. Clark, Gabriel Okara, Buchi Emecheta, Flora Nwapa, Ben Okri, Sefi Atta, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Wale Okediran, Femi Osofisan, Ben Okri, Biyi Bandele, Helon Habila, Chika Unigwe, and so on – to revitalise society and instil in it wholesome values to sustain it to the next generation and beyond.
It is the belief of Liteary Star Search that hidden stars abound in the literary landscape, but they remain hidden, and may remain hidden if something drastic is not done.
So that while stars are being made and hugely rewarded in virtually other areas of society – beauty pageantry, music, movies, reality shows and dance (all considered probably fairly less enobling and so of little value to society’s wellbeing; indeed, the orientation of music and movies towards overt sexual displays have corrupted society more than can be quantified), writers, especially literary writers, are largely left in the cold, and made to watch from the sidelines. Yet, writing is one area where worldbeaters have been made in our midst, men and women, who have put us on the world map as part of the world’s cultural citizens.
Indeed, literary art or literature is the most accomplished of Nigerian arts and culture sector. Sadly, it is the least hyped and least valued in its cultural re-orientation of the citizenry and society generally. Of course, those who practice it (or write it) equally suffer the worse form of obscurity; they are least known and celebrated, whereas those in the faddish areas of the arts take centre-stage as heroes or celebrities, even if dubious nature!
The Mantra of a Literary Prize
While there is abundance of potential star writers, there is little opportunity for them to rise and shine! Reward for them is still criminally low; they are just too few prizes on the local scene for those with something important to say. Inability to throw up star writers and truly celebrate them has created the absence of writers as models for society, especially for the young, impressionable members of society to follow.
This has the multiplier effect of alienating young ones from reading what writers produce as a disconnect between the two has become so obvious. The connection between writers and literacy cannot be hard to imagine; that there is a lack of a reading habit in the populace, especially of literary materials, therefore, becomes logical in the sense that writers have not been made a centrality of our consciousness; they simply are the heroes young ones want to emulate to deepen society’s core values.
To address these areas, icons in the field of literary creativity have to be made, particularly young icons – the way it is in dance, music, movies, dance, pageantry and reality shows. These icons will lure young readers back to the literary space and books, especially when they see in the youthful icons that are made a mirror image of themselves. These creative stars will then fire their aspirations because they are the ones young people want to emulate.
This is the purpose Liteary Star Search. It will serve to throw up star writers, reward them with grand price.
The Literary Star Search, being organised by Creative Alliance, has appointed judges to decide the winner come July. The ONE MILLION naira first prize contest, whose deadline is April 30th, has named PEN Nigeria President, Mr. Tade Ipadeola, 2011 first runner-up for The Nigeria Prize for Literature, Ayodele Olofintuade and literary critic and journalist, Mr. Terh Agbedeh as its 3-man judges.
Making the announcement early in the week, spokesperson for the contest, Mr. Seun Jegede, who said Literary Star Search is a credible contest made more credible by the quality of judges selected to decide the winner. He assured that both the organisers and the judges will perform credibly to endear the contest to Nigerian writers in the organiser’s bid to give writers a lift in the country.
Ipadeola, Jegede stated, is not just a known poet, he is also an erudite critic of the fictive genre and a brilliant essayist. Olofintuade, whose children’s book, Eno’s Story, came second in The Nigeria Prize for Literature, sponsored by gas company, Nigeria LNG, is also a brilliant short story writer. Those who saw her perform last weekend in Ibadan at the Book Reading Forum at Ibadan American Corner were amazed at her skill in the short prose sub-genre.
Also, Jegede expressed happiness at the enthusiastic manner Nigerian writers have responded to call for entries for the Literary Star Search contest so far, and enjoined those yet to apply to seize this rare window of opportunity so as to start benefiting from their creative sweat as writers. He said since publishing seems a mirage for most writers in the country, getting involved in such creative endeavours of reward like Literary Star Search was the only means for writers to prove their mettle, get recognised, be promoted and be rewarded handsomely.
Jegede stated that the magnanimity of the organisers in its intention to publish the first best 25 entries apart from the three winners was an added advantage writers must take seriously to further promote their craft to both the Nigerian and international public. With the added boost that Creative Alliance will enter stories from the collection in international contests like the Caine, Commonwealth and other prize contests at its expense and on behalf of writers, Jegede enthused that Nigerian writers were indeed in the right hand and the best of times.
He, therefore, urged those yet to apply to visit www.creativeallianceng.com for further details on how they, too, can be part of the literary harvest of the year, which promises to give writers a new season of fulfilment.