Monday, May 30, 2011

...On Language

Interesting quotes on language

Language forces us to perceive the world as man presents it to us.  ~Julia Penelope

The reaction to any word may be, in an individual, either a mob-reaction or an individual reaction.  It is up to the individual to ask himself:  Is my reaction individual, or am I merely reacting from my mob-self?  When it comes to the so-called obscene words, I should say that hardly one person in a million escapes mob-reaction.  ~D.H. Lawrence

One man's frankness is another man's vulgarity.  ~Kevin Smith

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.  ~Jane Wagner

Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne.  ~Quentin Crisp

Dictionaries are like watches; the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true. ~Samuel Johnson

Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work.  ~Carl Sandburg, New York Times, 13 February 1959

It's a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water.  ~Franklin P. Jones

In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer.  ~Mark Twain

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sentinel Nigeria/Jude Dibia Fiction Review Competition

Jude Dibia recently judged the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Short Story Competition (April 2011), the results of which will be announced on April 30th, 2011. Mr Dibia however forwent his judge’s fee insisting rather that Sentinel must use his fees to promote literature as we have been doing. We have therefore decided to hold a book review competition in 2011 and 2012 known as the Sentinel Nigeria/Jude Dibia Fiction Review Competition.

The requirements are simple.

1. Buy any novel written by a Nigerian published between June 1, 2010 and May 31st 2011

2. Read the book and write a critical review not less than 1,000 words but not more than 1,500 words.

3. Submit the review to make sure that in the subject line you specify SENTINEL NIGERIA/JUDE DIBIA FICTION REVIEW COMPETITION 2011

4. Deadline for submission is 30th September, 2011.

5. Sylva Ifedigbo, Sentinel Nigeria’s Features & Reviews Editor will judge the reviews and shortlist 6 reviews. All shortlisted reviews will be published in the November 2011 issue of Sentinel Nigeria.

More information here. All the best people!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Power of Words

"Thanks to words, we have been able to rise above the brutes; and thanks to words, we have often sunk to the level of the demons."  ~Aldous Huxley

“If the word has the potency to revive and make us free, it has also the power to blind, imprison, and destroy.”--Ralph Ellison

"Keep them short and sweet.
You never know, from day to day,
Which ones you'll have to eat."
- Anonymous 

Words are powerful, spoken or written. They can break or build. Saying that you should watch your words but write with no fear, of nothing or no one. Is that speaking from two sides of the mouth? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reminder: Golden BAOBAB Writing Competition

The Golden Baobab Prize is an African literary award established in July 2008 to encourage the writing of African literature for children and young adults.

Golden Baobab Prize at a Glance:

  • African literary award established to inspire the creation of the best kinds of African stories that children and young adults all over the world will love.
  • Invites entries of unpublished short stories written by African citizens irrespective of age, race or geographical location.
  • Supported by The Global Fund for Children and the African Library Project. Founding support provided by Bryn Mawr College.
  • Run by passionate team of volunteer from all over the world.
  • Non-profit initiative registered in Ghana.

  • Submitted stories should fall into a Junior Category (stories for readers aged 8-11 years) or a Senior Category (stories for readers aged 12-15 years).
  • Entry should be a work of fiction between 1,000 to 5,000 words. 
  • There are no restrictions on themes but stories must be set in Africa or have a very evident African content.
  • Stories should be in written in English and should not have been previously published elsewhere, in part or in full.
  • Pseudonyms may not be used. Entries must be submitted under entrant's real name.
  • Entrants may enter up to five stories.
  • All entries must be the unaided work of the entrant.
  • Previous entrants (including shortlisted writers) of the Prize are eligible to enter in subsequent years. Previous winners of the Junior or Senior Category are not eligible to enter. Previous winners of the Rising Writer Award are eligible to enter again. 
  • The title page of submissions should state the category and title of the story. All biographical information should be sent in the body of submission email.
  • ALL entries will be acknowledged with an email to the address from which the entry was sent.

More info here

Sunday, May 22, 2011

M Literary Residency 2012-13

Here's an opportunity to find that quiet you need to write. Try, who knows?

The M Literary Residency Program has been established to disseminate a broader knowledge of contemporary life and writing in India and China today and to foster deeper intellectual, cultural and artistic links across individuals and communities. Applicants are invited to apply for three month residencies in India or China.

Applications for the 2012 Residency are now being accepted. Application deadline is Friday, 1 July 2011, and decisions will be announced 31 October.

More info here

Saturday, May 21, 2011

JLF Comic: A-Legion 'Time Robber'

A new comics from JLF: A Legion 'Time Robber'
The battle is about Luc, trying to gain control of the hearts of men. He has invested in new age technology to pursue his objectives. He personally handpicks Abaddon to handle his sinister operations. The freeminders, creators of the Dermits, are led by the powerful Professor Murdoch. The freeminder’s answer to Abaddon is Baranta, the brain child of Professor Murdoch. They are all involved in Luc’s plans to gain control of the hearts of men. Luc uses the divide and rule tactics on his dark hordes. The whole world is oblivious of Luc’s actual plans. Everybody, except the Apocalypse Legion. The A-Legion is made up of five regular neighborhood kids: Jammy, Xggzy, Manny, Nakky and Zaggy, who live and operate in the spirit of five angels chosen by Son Of Man (SOM) who is God’s last stand against Luc. SOM buzzes the A-Legion on their video watches sometimes. This is one of the ways they get assigned their mission.

As the story begins………The Dermits new age techies are in town, and are being used by Professor Murdoch to renew his leadership of the freeminders, and to harass the citizenry. But watching as always is the A-Legion, ever ready to rise to the occasion.

For more information visit the JLF website by clicking here.

Get copies of the comic in the following places
1. Magazine Circulation: 90, Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja, Lagos.
2. The Hub Media: The Palms Shopping Mall, 1, Bis Way, Maroko Road, Lekki, Lagos.
3. Terrakulture: Plot 1376, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
4. Shop Perfect Limited: 26b, Olotunda Street, Ilupeju, Lagos. 
5. The Bazaar: 14, Ade Akinsanya Street, Off Town Planning Way, Ilupeju, Lagos.
6. Silverbird Galleria: 133, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos.
7. Mega Plaza: 14, Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
8. Global Impact Church: 277, Babs   Animashaun Street, Surulere, Lagos.
9. Magazine Stand: Masha Round About, Surulere, Lagos.
10. International Magazines: Ojuelegba, Lagos.
11. GFC Bookshop: Plot 4, Otunba Jobifele Way, Behind MKO Abiola Gardens, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

...Something New for the Academics

"Something New out of Twenty-First-Century Africa?
The Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies announces a special issue on new writing from Africa, to be guest-edited by Simon Lewis (College of Charleston) and Lindsey Green-Simms (American University), and published in spring 2013. The editors are looking for articles that address the ways in which the economic, political, and technological changes of the early 21st century have affected the modes of writing on the African continent.

While this theme may be broadly interpreted, the editors are especially interested in articles that engage the following types of questions:

-How is 21st-century African writing reconfiguring the debates about tradition vs. modernity?

-How are new media and communication technologies affecting literary expression and readerships?

-Has the internet created space for the vernacular, the original, and the local?

-How are new geopolitical formations shaping literary production and distribution?

- How are new political alignments within the Global South affecting the production of African literature?

-Are new strands of nationalism and/or pan-Africanism emerging, or is African literature more profoundly marked by cosmopolitanism, and narratives of migration and/or entrapment?

-Does it make sense any more to think of African writing as postcolonial?

-How are new trends in environmentalism and new biotechnologies affecting understanding of (human) nature, sustainability, and individual and collective right-living?

-What is the relationship between the African novel and modes of popular culture such as Nollywood, hip-hop, or self-help manuals?

Please send substantial, completed essays of 5,000 to 8,000 words to Lindsey Green-Simms and Simon Lewis at before November 30th, 2011. Essays must be written in English, using MLA format for style and citations. In order to facilitate blind review, please do not include your name or affiliation in the body of the essay, but provide a separate cover-sheet with that information.

The Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies publishes interdisciplinary and cross-cultural articles, interviews, and creative writings on the literatures, the histories, the politics, and the arts whose focus, locales, or subjects involve Britain and other European countries and their former colonies, the now decolonized, independent nations in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, and also Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Contact Information:

For inquiries:

For submissions:


Interesting topic but I am just here wondering, why Africa? Just wondering aloud...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ankara Press Announces Romance Writers Workshop

If you have a romance novel sitting in your drawer or if you’ve always dreamt of crafting thrilling love stories like your favourite Mills and Boon novels with African characters, then Ankara Press is bringing you an exciting opportunity. They will be hosting a one-day workshop to introduce aspiring romance writers to the techniques of writing engaging and original romance novels. 

Keep your manuscript from the rejection pile by learning what today’s editors are looking for. A new generation of romance is emerging – driven by the growing economic power of its readers.  Modern romance novels now feature independent female characters who are assertive and ambitious and male characters who are strong, honest and not afraid to emote. Writers must be able to identify and recreate such characters if they want to be published by Ankara Press.

Learn how to avoid the traps of “traditional romance,” as well as how to spot clichéd dialogue, overused plotlines and stereotypical characters. If you dream of being a romance writer, this workshop is for you.

Further Details
Workshop: Writing Modern Romance 
Time: 12noon to 2pm 
Venue: French Cultural Centre at 52 Libreville Street, off Aminu Kanu Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja. 

Selection will be by competition.  
To apply, email: Attach a one-page sample of your best romantic fiction (no more than 1,500 words, double-spaced, 12 point font) as a word document. Please include your name (no aliases or pen names), the title of the story, your phone number and email address. Please include “Workshop” in the subject of your email. 

Contents of the course
-    Avoiding Clichés: How to develop original story ideas
-    Polishing the gem: Common writing mistakes
-    Holding out for a Hero: Bringing your characters to life
-    Say it again, Sam: How to create and develop memorable dialogue
-    Tying it all together: An introduction to structure

About Us 
Ankara Press is a fresh new voice publishing romantic fiction for the African market. The press is devoted to publishing easy-to-read, books with African settings, storylines and characters. We want give readers a trusted companion in our titles; above all, we want African men and women to see the best version of themselves in print.  
For more information, contact: Chinelo Onwualu at 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

40 Most Influential Black Female Authors

To wrap up Women's History Month, put together a gallery of 40 influential black women authors. Some names you may know and others you may not. Their varied backgrounds give way to multi-faceted perspectives.

And the list has Buchi Emecheta, Grace Ogot, Kola Boof, Chika Unigwe, Zadie Smith, Maya Angelou, Nnedi Okorafor, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison (she's ageing gracefully, look at those grey dreads!) and Chimamanda Adichie. The list runs through generations of female's good to see that progression, that energy of women writers taking on writing, a profession that was predominantly male, like many things in the society. I never knew Nikki Giovanni was a woman (dunno why ;), ignorant much)

View the list here

Who else do you think should make that list?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lightship International Literary Competitions

Web-based international Short Story, Poetry, Flash Fiction and First Chapter competitions.
All competitions have a deadline of 30 June 2011.

Lightship aims to run one of the premier literary competitions in the world, with prizes of £1,000, honorary patrons such as Christopher Reid, Hilary Mantel, Sir Andrew Motion and Lindsay Clarke, and distinguished judges such as Toby Litt, Jackie Kay, and Kachi A. Ozumba. The winner of each competition, along with nine runners-up, will be published in the Lightship anthology to be published by Alma Books in October 2011. 

Writers can find out more information on all Lightship competitions by going online to

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Sometimes we encounter some stories and we can't help but share. Here are links to some.

Igoni Barrett's short story "You" in ITCH

"You've been staring at the blank MS Word sheet for so long that when she creeps up behind and mashes her breasts against your back you know, even before the words burn your throat, that you will be mean. She recoils, her mouth falls open, her baby face crumples, but she turns away before your remorse overcomes the frustration of knowing that you will never write anything of the least importance to anybody. Then the thought that even she, who loves you like a mother, but better, because you fuck, can turn her back on you, bursts in your head like a smashed tomato. You leap up and kick the chair away; it falls over with a crash. You scream at her without raising your voice. Your words sink into her like punches. You gloat as her shoulders sag, as the force of your assault pins her against a wall you cannot see, as her eyes grow wider and ooze distress. When she stumbles from the room, you laugh, harshly, so she will know you're not afraid."

"The In-Between Woman" by Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Nivedita Sen in Guernica Mag

"Nibaran got married to a petite young girl wearing a nose ring, whose eyes brimmed with tears. Her name was Shailabala.

Nibaran mused to himself that the name was very sweet, and her face quite lovely. He felt like observing her expression, her appearance, and her movements with some special attention, but he just could not manage to do so. On the contrary, he had to pretend as if she was just a slip of a girl, that he had invited trouble by marrying her, and that he could get some respite only if he could somehow avoid her and attend to the sphere of duty that suited his age."

"You and I, on the edge of the seawall and I wanted to tremble in the radiance of the sun at its highest point in the sky. I would have said nothing and basked in the glory but you turned to me and told me to tell. So I did and I gave you the words for you to carry. I saw your lips reciting bits of it and how the story trembled in your mouth, the words too terrible for anyone. I thought I had made a mistake, I wanted to take each word back but then you did a very brave thing. You reached in to adjust each word, the sharp bitter ones and the sad, all jumbled together, until they fit in the curve of your cheek. And then you smiled to tell me that it was okay, but I knew better because a smile like that was the heat of the bricks against our feet as we stood and walked back to shore. A smile like that tugged and tugged at me so much so that when you went ahead of me, I didn't bother to run to catch up. I watched the sway of your braid, the steps you took and how your shoulders bent forward as if you were a bird pecking at the sand."

"The first thing the children of the colony learned after the ship landed was how to change genders.

They'd been born in the long dark between the stars; not one had ever set foot on Earth, on good, solid ground. They'd never known a fixed sky, just the star-shot dark tumbling past the ship's portholes as they hurtled towards a new world.

They'd grown like weeds in the cracks of the ship, playing quiet games. Laughing and running were forbidden, making them always too loud, and too much in the way."

Follow the links to read more. Have an amazing weekend Bookaholics!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reminder: Fidelity Bank Writing Workshop

Need to sharpen your writing skills?

Applications are open for the 4th Edition of the annual Fidelity Bank Creative Writing Workshop. The workshop is a component of Fidelity’s corporate Social Responsibility, through which the bank continues to push for a better society. Participants are expected to read and discuss a wide range of fiction as well as complete short writing exercises. Entries open on Monday 18 April 2011 to Wednesday 11 May 2011. Participation in the workshop is limited to those who apply and are accepted. A public symposium featuring readings and panel discussions will be held on the last day of the workshop.

To apply, send an e-mail to:
Your e-mail should bear the title – “Workshop Application”
The body of the e-mail should contain the following:
1. Your name
2. Your address
3. A few sentences about yourself (not more than 50 words)
4. A writing sample of between 200 – 1000 words

Please note that the workshop is purely meant for fiction writers. Any entry that does not fall into this category will be automatically rejected. Acceptance will be based on quality of the entry. The entry must be pasted or written in the body of the e-mail. Do NOT send any attachments. Applications with attachments will be automatically disqualified. If accepted, you will be notified by June 10, 2011.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Writing News: Best of Beryl

Beryl Bainbridge's 1998 novel, Master Georgie, was announced the winner of a special prize created to honour the late, much-loved author - the Man Booker Best of Beryl.

Beryl Bainbridge was shortlisted five times for the Booker Prize - the most that any author has been shortlisted - but never actually won. Over a period of five weeks the public has been asked to vote for their favourite of Dame Beryl's shortlisted books: The Dressmaker (1973); The Bottle Factory Outing (1974); An Awfully Big Adventure (1990); Every Man for Himself (1996) and Master Georgie (1998) all of which are now published in paperback by Abacus.

The voting, conducted via the Man Booker website, was very close, with Master Georgie winning by a few votes, just pipping Every Man For Himself to the post.

The winning book was announced by Ion Trewin, Literary Director of the Man Booker Prizes (and former judge of the prize), at a party in Soho to celebrate the author's life. The prize - a one-off, designer-bound copy of the book - was accepted by Beryl's daughter Jojo Davies and grandson Charlie Russell on behalf of the family. The evening included tributes from Sir Ronald Harwood; AN Wilson; her long-standing agent, Andrew Hewson and Publisher at Little, Brown, Richard Beswick.

Ion Trewin comments, "Beryl was a very gracious non-winner and no Man Booker dinner was complete without her. She may have been known as the eternal Booker Bridesmaid, but we are delighted to be able finally to crown Master Georgie a Booker Bride."

Master Georgie was first published in 1998 by Duckworth, and was shortlisted in the year that Ian McEwan's novel Amsterdam won the Booker Prize. The other shortlisted books were Julian Barnes' England England, Patrick McCabe's Breakfast on Pluto, Martin Booth's The Industry of Souls and Magnus Mills' The Restraint of Beasts. Master Georgie has been described as ‘truly extraordinary, heartbreakingly good' (Sunday Telegraph) and The Times wrote, at the time of publication, ‘It is hard to think of anyone now writing who understands the human heart as Beryl Bainbridge does ... Master Georgie is brief, intense, and remains seared on the mind long after reading.' It won the WH Smith Literary Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

Beryl Bainbridge was both an author and actress. She wrote seventeen novels, two travel books and five plays for stage and television.  Her final novel, The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress, will be published by Little, Brown in June. Beryl Bainbridge died in July last year. 

More info here 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chimurenga...Live in Naija!

Chimurenga is one of the most avant-garde and cutting-edge publications on the continent. Binyavanga Wainaina, award-wining Kenyan writer and founder of the hyper-hip Kenyan-based magazine, Kwani?, called it “the finest literary magazine in Africa,” and Vanity Fair described it as “an uber-cool, multilingual journal spinning a funky mix of art, culture and political writing from and about Africa.”

This year, keep an eye out for the Chimurenga Chronicle, a one-day-only edition of a fictional weekly newspaper featuring the continent’s leading journalists, editors, writers, photographers and artists, and backdated to the first week of the xenophobic violence that rocked South Africa from May 11-18 2008. It will be produced in association with Cassava Republic Press and the hip Kenya-based magazine, Kwani?

Each edition will cost N2,500-postage excluded.To get your copy, contact:

Isn't this a cool way to start the month? With Chimurenga? Happy May, people! And yes, happy Workers' Day!