On 15th of January, 2020, the fifth edition of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize (NSPP) was declared opened for submissions at a press briefing which held at Home Touch, Surulere, Lagos. Students, parents, poetry enthusiasts and journalists were present at the event where we invited Nigerian undergraduates to submit a 30-line poem on any theme of their choice before 31st of March 2020. When the prize closed to submissions, we received five hundred and forty submissions from Nigerian undergraduates representing 85 Nigerian tertiary institutions including universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, schools of nursing and seminary schools.
On 24th of May, 2020, we revealed the NSPP panel of judges to include Dr. Amanze Akpuda (Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Abia State University, Uturu, Abia), Dr. Santosh Bakaya (poet, novelist and winner of the International Reuel Award), Gbenga Adeoba (author of Exodus and winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize) and Naseeba Babale (poet and literary administrator). We examined the entries in two phases: the first being the preliminary stage managed by our initial judges, and then, the main stage administered by the aforementioned judging panel. On 25th of July, 2020, we released a list of selected poems via Facebook live, and subsequently on our YouTube Channel. Unlike in previous editions, the NSPP anthology does not contain hundred (100) poems because the judges asserted that, only sixty (60) poems merited their inclusions having examined them in line with the following criteria – thematic relevance, originality, aptness of language and technical excellence.
On 1st of August, 2020, a longlist of twenty (20) poems was published on our website and YouTube. When the longlisted entries were further reviewed, a shortlist of ten (10) poems was released a week thereafter via the usual channels. Commenting on the judging process, Dr. Santosh Bakaya said, “The evaluation process was very sound and fair, where the jury was not aware credentials of the poets, hence there was no bias or prior preference.”
Having slated the awards ceremony for Saturday 22nd of August, 2020, the prize winners (top three entrants) will be unveiled at the event and thus awarded a total cash prize of N500,000. There will also be consolation prizes (sponsored by Messrs Sandison Jumbo and Ebikeme Adowei) for the fourth and fifth best entrants. Worthy of note is the fifth title of the NSPP Anthology Series to be unveiled during the event. As is the tradition, its title will be that of the winning poem for this current edition.
As the curtain drops on this edition of the NSPP, we are irrepressibly delighted to have our hands “dipped” in an undertaking that allows us to discover, nurture and promote literary talents.
Congratulations to the exceptional entrants and lovers of poetry.
Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom
Moderator, NSPP 2020