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I relish the beauty of cultures and ways of Ibibio people – Iquo

By Prisca Sam-Duru

Iquo Diana Eke is a Writer, Performance poet and Actress who renders her words to the accompaniment of folklore, typically embellished with instruments such as drums, flute and /or strings.

An indegene of  Uyo, Iquo who studied human resource management in the Lagos State University, has over the years, worked as a journalist, administrator and scriptwriter.

She believes strongly in a continuous struggle for the betterment of her generation and nation, thus her work explores pain, social consciousness, passion, womanhood and indeed the trials of the griots of this age.

The writer whose maiden collection of poems; Symphony of Becoming  which was published  early this year was among the 11 books on the initial shortlist for the 2013 Nigeria Prize for Literature, in this interview which was conducted before the announcement of the final shortlist of three, has interesting narrative about her works and the Prize. Excerpts:

Congrats for making the initial shortlist. How do you feel?

I feel elated and extremely honoured that my first collection of poems made it to the NLNG initial shortlist. I really didn’t see it coming.

*Iquo Diana Eke
*Iquo Diana Eke

Were you surprised that you made the list?

Oh yes, I was surprised. Especially given the calibre of writers that are on the initial shortlist. I really did not write the book with the prize in mind, so that kind of added to my surprise.

But having been long listed, I feel a sense of responsibility; to live up to and even exceed the quality of craft that I come up with from now on.

You are perhaps the youngest amongst the contenders, both interms of age and experience, do you think you stand a chance to win the coveted prize?

Without sounding immodest, I think that at this point in time anything could happen. I am certain it was not pity or sentiments that informed the selection of 11 of us from the over two hundred entries they sieved through; the judges obviously know what quality of work they were looking out for.

I have no doubts that given the experience and skill they all possess, they will do the eventual shortlist and select the winner with the utmost professionalism- age notwithstanding.

What makes Symphony of Becoming unique?

Well, first of all, the collection has been a long time coming. The poems there had undergone a lot of chiselling and general polishing over the years.

My work explores a large range of themes, from social consciousness to passion, to trials of womanhood etc. in many ways it is a coming of age collection; so to speak.

Having waited so long, there was just no other way to go than to publish the collection- the symphony of my becoming…

There seems to be much elements of love for your root or tradition, what informed the idea?

I am very proud of my roots and I relish the beauty of the cultures and ways of the Ibibio people. As a performance poet, I have been moved to use folklore and the dance of my people to bring my poetry alive on the stage.

It’s something I still intend to research. This love is informed by my belief that you cannot know who you truly are without a good understanding of your roots, even if one does not accept the entirety of such traditions as right for the times we live in.

Other published works?

Symphony of Becoming is my first published work. Although I have been published in newspapers, reviews and other Anthologies

What impact has the initial shortlist made on your career?

Well, of course there is the recognition that comes with it. But I feel that the greatest impact for me is the realisation that I stand in higher responsibility.

The responsibility (and I daresay pressure) to ensure that one lives up to or exceeds the quality of craft that made the long list.


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