The Evolution of the Literary Text, “Complete Poetry for Students and Writers” by Senator Ihenyen, Nigerian Poet and Author

The young Nigerian poet and writer,
Senator Ihenyen
was the principal Founder of the now defunct Apollo Writers Online as far back as 2004. He with his colleague, Opeyemi Ogundele, ran a listserve that served as a creative forum where both young and upcoming Nigerian poets and other international writers sharpened their writing skills through constructive criticisms and feedback.

Together, they explored publishing opportunities on the Internet. Apollo also collaborated with the Lagos branch of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA Lagos) under Folu Agoi’s chairmanship to provide reading materials for members who were to read or perform their unpublished works in ANA meetings. Soft copy submissions made to Apollo Writers Online were processed and made available to everyone in hard copies.

In 2004, Apollo with the aim of bridging the wide gap between Literature as a creative writing exercise among writers and Literature as an academic study among students came up with a Literary and Educational Project. This project involved writing a JAMB syllabus poetry-based literary text for students at the University Matriculations Examinatins (UME) level. With Senator Ihenyen as author, and Opeyemi Ogundele as contributor and Assistant Project Coordinator, the book was completed in August 2005. The duo were interviewed by Juliet Bumah, Art Editor, Daily Times of Nigeria, and Henry Akubuiro of The Sun in the same year

Daily Times Sept 2005


after an unsuccessful solicitation for sponsorship to fund the publishing, and failing to get a publishing contract that would see the book in the market within the two-year period the mainly syllabus-based book would last, the project remained in the pipeline.

Relentless and determined to produce a well researched textbook for the study of poetry, Senator Ihenyen embarked on writing an entirely new book with a wider scope. This time, the young and energetic poet and author of the collection of poems Colourless Rainbow , ensured that the book was not based on any short-lived or time-bound syllabus which would only run for a few number of years. In the words of the author who is also now a Lawyer, “With a continually deepening interest in creative writing and literary research, I remained strongly committed and dedicated to realising the objective of producing a well-researched study text. This time around, I’ve ensured that the manuscript will not end up like “Spirit of Poetry: the Apollo Series.” That manuscript became outdated after the UME English Literature syllabus changed after two years. “Complete Poetry for Students and Writers” could be described as a timeless textbook based on a wider and richer curriculum and scope, with both students of poetry at all levels and creative writers in mind.”

Presently, what is left to be done to get the manuscript finally completed is the glossary of terms and index.

Of course, the hunt for a good academic publisher starts now. According to the poet who got a Honourary Mention in the ANA NDDC/Gabriel Okara Prize for his debut Colourless Rainbow, “Painfully, the last time Academic Press, Lagos indicated interest in publishing the old “Spirit of Poetry” in September 2005, the two-year-UME-syllabus-based text had till 2007 to remain relevant to the target market. Meanwhile, it couldn’t wait till the time the publishing house had required to include it in their publishing budget. This time, with the wider scope of the work, that limitation of time has been greatly taken care of.”

The manuscript of the new book, “Complete Poetry for Students and Writers” is written by Senator Ihenyen. One of the new voices in Nigerian poetry, Senator Ihenyen’s experience as a practicing poet and volunteer tutor in English Literature courses has provided the author with the resourcefulness and ability to embark on writing this textbook. At the University of Benin, Benin City, the former two-time President of Golden Minds Nigeria, a youth empowerment initiative, was widely known for teaching courses such as Introduction to Poetry, Introduction to Drama and Oral Literature as a volunteer tutor for five years. His teaching materials are still being used today by students of Law and English Language at the University.