It was a moment of jubilation as writers and literary enthusiasts from different parts of the country converged in Akwa, the Anambra State Capital, to hail, herald and welcome the arrival of Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology —”Arrows of Words”
Edited by Izunna Okafor, the new vivacious anthology, which is a publication of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (Anambra State), is an 85-paged book that contains 118 poems and essays gathered from writers from different countries of the world, written in honor of foremost Nigerian literary savant —late Prof. Chinua Achebe. The anthology was unveiled and officially presented at 2019 edition of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival which was combined with Achebe’s 89th (posthumous) birthday celebration.
Speaking at the event, the Editor-in-Chief of the anthology, author Izunna Okafor, who is also the state’s Coordinator of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers described the book as a laudable stride into immortalizing Achebe who died since 2013, and is yet to be immortalized.
He said the young writers’ association started the journey of publishing the anthology in 2016 when the first edition of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival was held, prio to which they made ‘Call For Submissions’ online, and in response to which writers from different countries of the world sent their poems and essays (strictly written for Achebe) for publication in the anthology in honor of the legend. Those entries were then vetted, and the selected ones were published as a collection of poems and essays that year.
In his words, Izunna, an award-winning author said: “We did this in 2016, 2017 and 2018 editions of the event. But in preparation for the 2019 edition of the event, we decided not to call for fresh submissions for a fresh anthology, but to collate the three previously published collections and publish them as a single anthology, still in honor of Achebe.
“This was also in keeping of my word during an exclusive live interview with the Anambra Broadcasting Service (TV) on 15th November 2018, to herald the 2018 edition of the literary festival. And that was how we birthed this world class anthology entitled “Arrows of Words”. We also hope to replicate this every three years after we must have published up to three collections.”
He further extolled and congratulated the entrants whose works made it into the anthology, while also urging those whose works could not, to keep writing and to try more in subsequent editions of the anthology, believing that your best is yet to come.
Represented by his Press Secretary, Mr. James Ezeh, the Executive Governor of Anambra State, H.E. Chief Dr. Willie Obiano witnessed the book presentation, among other dignitaries.
“Arrows of Words will be available on online bookshops soon, for wider readership,” Izunna added.
Below are blurbs and reactions from writers on the new anthology:
“Achebe and his works are like forests with many animate, inanimate and metaphysical inhabitants. The end of it all is infinite. It is fulfilling that young writers in this most auspicious anthology entitled ‘Arrows of Words’ are extending the Achebean complex metaphor of the multiplicity of beings in their own words.”←→Denja Abdullahi, former President, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).
“A laudable compendium of homage spun in honour of a legend. With this meritorious anthology, Achebe’s heroism is feted, and his mighty pen retained in the field of the literary arts.” ←→Okeke Chika Jerry, author of ‘The gods Are Hungry’
“Arrow of Words’ is shot to anthropologize that of the gods as written by Achebe, the oracle. That’s the only way to bring him closer without being overwhelmed by the splendour of our ancestors.”←→Fr. Ositadimma Amakeze Nzudinobieze, author, of ‘The Last Carver’.
“A body of writings and writers have trailed the departure of Chinua Achebe, the eagle on the Iroko of African Literature. Many have aped him, some come near, a lot fell apart. But the biggest joy is the emergence of these young writers who believe, venerate and toe the path of the sage without loosing their originality. Young writers in this anthology come across as genuine successors, not parodies of Chinua Achebe.” ←→Chuka Nnabuife, author of ‘Mbize: Rage of Red Earth’
“The best way to immortalize Chinua Achebe —arguably the most influential novelist that ever lived — is through the weapon of words, and the arrows of wisdom contained in this book are right on target, ensuring that the iconic storyteller can never die.”←→Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, author of ‘God of Poetry’
“A wild passion to unleash the giants within runs through the arteries of this collection.”←→Odili Ujubuoñu, author of ‘Pregnancy of gods’
“While he lived, Achebe, no doubt attracted lots of feathers on his writing cap — nationally and internationally. But more than the accolades of peers and contemporaries, this anthology — Arrows of Words orchestrated by young writers from his home state in death, appears the icing on the cake. They resonate the height he soared on the iroko of literary iconography. The a-hundred-plus collection is a timely announcement that it’s no longer morning on Achebe’s inevitable apotheosis.”←→Isidore Emeka Uzoatu, author of ‘Vision Impossible’
“A poignant and panoramic paean to the deceased but deathless master. The breadth and depth of contributions would have gladdened Achebe’s soul.” ←→R.C. (Reginald Chiedu) Ofodile, international award-winning writer and actor.
by Izunna Okafor.