Jude Idada, Olukorede Yishau, others for University of Iowa creative writing programme

Nigeria Prize for Literature winner Jude Idada and author of In the Name of Our Father Olukorede S. Yishau are two of the four Nigerians nominated by the United States Mission in Nigeria for the University of Iowa’s programme tagged ‘Telling Our Stories: Creative Writing and Healthcare’. 

The other Nigerians are Ololade Ajayi, a poet, and Chinaza Eziaghighala, a writer and medical student. 

There are participants from other African countries such as Ghana, South Africa, Ethiopia and others. 

A statement by the University of Iowa’s co-ordinator of International Writing Program / Digital Learning, Pamela D Marston,  said the programme would run  for six months, up to November 15. 

The project, Marston said, will focus on the many approaches to creative expression that can enhance both traditional and modern healthcare practices and public understanding.  

The statement added that experts from the University of Missouri,  Georgetown Medical College and others would tutor the participants. 

Marston said: “The people you’ll be working with:  

Lise Saffran: University of Missouri: Public health professor/Public health Program Director and creative writing instructor. Explores ethical questions that are raised by storytelling in any social enterprise. Works with issues such as truth-telling, transparency and exploitation within past and current public health storytelling in print and digital media. 

“Tracy Granzyk: Chicago area/adjunct faculty Georgetown Medical School. Writer/screenwriter, editor, filmmaker, producer, healthcare content strategist. Focus and research on using stories to influence culture change within healthcare. Editor of Please See Me, an online literary journal publishing creative writing that covers all aspects of healthcare. 

Ann Green: St. Joseph’s University: Department of English professor, Medicine and Humanities. Works with intersectionality and race, class, gender, sexualities, and dis/abilities, uses elements of narrative medicine and slow medicine to better address medically-fragile populations in the community, takes into account race, class, and resulting medical disparities.  

“Ted Fristrom: Drexel University: Co-director Medical Humanities program. Works with medical memoir, writing about/writing through illness and trauma, healing aspects of creative expression and limits of healing aspects, positioning of subject re: race/gender/socio-economic status.  

“Michele M. Desmarais: University of Nebraska Omaha: Founding director of Medical Humanities Program. Native American poet and scholar of Métis, Dakota and European descent, traditional medicine research interests. Also professor in religious studies and faculty member in Native American studies at same institution.”

Aside being the winner of the Nigeria Prize for Literature, Idada also won an AMAA best screenplay award, and the ANA prize for Drama. Amongst others he was a finalist for the Goethe Institut Afrika Projekt and the New Directions Filmmakers of the future project by MNET. He has been selected for the Toronto International Film Festival’s ‘ADAPT THIS!”, Afrinolly/Ford Foundaiton ‘Cinema 4 Change’ and the Relativity Media/AFRIFF filmmaking projects.

As a filmmaker, Idada wrote and produced the critically acclaimed film The Tenant which won several awards, including the Hollywood Black Film Festival’s ‘Audience Choice’ award, and the Mid Atlantic Black Film Festival’s ‘Best Film’ award amongst several others. He has also directed the documentary “Blaze Up the Ghetto,” the short films Chameleon and The Queen of the Night, in addition to the feature film Kofa.

Yishau is an award-winning and widely-travelled Nigerian journalist, novelist and short-story writer. His first novel, In the Name of Our Father, has been a subject of theses by students in Nigerian universities. It was published by Parrésia Publishers Limited in 2018 and described by two-time Booker finalist Chigozie Obioma as a ‘work of deceptive simplicity’. His collection of short stories Vaults of Secrets was released on October 1, 2020. His poems were published in an anthology of poetry ACTIVISTS POETS. His essays and short stories have appeared in different publications. 

Ajayi is a poet, satirist and short story writer. Her debut book, ‘We the People’ is a collection of satiric poems reflecting the political orientation of her country Nigeria. She has won several awards for her poems including the 2016 Nelson Mandela Day poetry competition (1st runner up). She is working towards the completion of her new collection of Poetry, titled The “Fenemist”, and also a novel titled ‘Alhaja Calvary’. 

Eziaghighala is a forthcoming medical doctor who hails from Imo state, Nigeria, and tells stories through written and visual media.

She was nominated for the 2020 African Writers Awards (AWA), the Wakini Kuria Award for Children’s Literature and the 2017 Ynaija storytelling series.

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