As has become a tradition since 2019, Providus Bank will be staging its 3rdProvidusBank Poetry Café on Tuesday, March 21 at the Grand Ballroom Eko Hotel & Suites Victoria Island, Lagos.
Titled World Poetry Day with Wole Soyinka, the event is designed as an evening of engagement in poetry rendition and performances between the grand poet and Nobel laureate, Soyinka, who is the inspiration behind the project, and a coterie of established, mid-career and young poets, including students of varied persuasions and styles.
With the theme, “Restating Humanity With The Woman”, the edition is wholly dedicated to celebrating WOMANHOOD. Thus, the evening will have on call eight poets from five countries – Nigeria, UAE, South Africa, Canada and Ghana.
Five of the poets are Nigerians, while three are other nationals. The Nigerians are Wana Udobang; Amrah Aliyu; Achalugo Ilozumba; Kemi Bakare and Jumoke Verissimo (based in Canada). The non-Nigerians are Nathalie Handal (French-American based in Abu Dhabi, UAE); Vuyokazi Ngemntu ( Cape Town, South Africa), and Emma Ofosua (Accra, Ghana) NB: Please, see the profiles below.
A statement from the producers, Culture Advocate Caucus, CAC, says, “The overall idea of the theme is to explore poetry works that pay close critical attention to the various modes of reduction and exclusion that the female gender faces in many parts of the world, notably Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and other countries in Asia and, some other parts of the world.
The patron saint of the project, Soyinka in his introduction to the edition, reiterates the strength of poetry to triumph over odds placed on its path by state authorities and people of extremist persuasions. The poet-dramatist and essayist, states: “Poetry has survived millennia of corruption, hate and destruction. It will outlive all enemies of the freedom of thought and imagination. Even in the dankness and despair of torture chambers and dens of the hangmen, the ember lives, straining to burst into purifying flames in the least expected places.”
Providus Bank, which has remained consistent to the idea of promoting the World Poetry Day project since 2019, says its engagement with the Nigerian literary community is “designed to be a cross-generational endeavour, one where established, mid-level and budding writers could share one big stage.
“We could not think of any other iconic and preeminently qualified persona than the legend, Prof Wole Soyinka, to be the grand patron and in some sense, the ‘patron saint’ for the project, and for the many young people who have graced the stage since the inception of the World Poetry Day series in 2019.
“It is important to underscore the fact that Prof Soyinka has been fully involved in the different themes and the artistic direction of the various events yearly. We are honoured, grateful and appreciative of his leadership and for being personally invested in this project.”
The bank restates the objectives of the World Poetry Day as outlined by UNESCO, as “the occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence between poetry and other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media.”
World Poetry Day “celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity,” according to UNESCO, which adopted the date during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999, with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard.