By Henry Akubuiro, Lagos

Anambra State has congratulated James Eze, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Willie Obiano, for winning the 2020 Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Poetry Prize at the weekend.

James Eze won the coveted prize with his critically acclaimed debut collection of poems “dispossessed” at the just ended 39th ANA International Convention, which took place in Ilorin, Kwara State.

Governor Obiano quickly called Eze to congratulate him on hearing the news, according to the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C Don Adinuba, who disclosed that many other cabinet members have also praised the author, describing the ANA prize as ‘the shape of things to come’.

ANA prizes are Nigeria’s longest-running literary prizes and among the most respected, representing the opinion of writers on the art and craft of their fellow writers.

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James Eze’s prize came exactly one year after “dispossessed” was published to a grand reception by critics and fellow poets and writers in Awka, the Anambra State capital.

The book has since been given pride of place by leading online retailers in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, South Korea, Ireland, South Africa, India and Russia.

Some of the poems were read at a session of the Anambra State Executive Council on publication, becoming perhaps the first time poems were read at any cabinet in Nigeria’s recent history.

James Eze’s “dispossessed”, which bears the subtitle “poetry of innocence, transgression and atonement”, is structured in the lower case style of the great American avant-garde poet, ee cummings.

With poetic influences from such immortal poets as Christopher Okigbo, Pablo Neruda, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound and WB Yeats, it is little wonder that James Eze beat all comers to win the ANA Prize for poetry.