The two resources persons: Matilda Tuoyo Ovie-Jack (third from right); Peter Omoko (fourth from right) and DELSU student participants at the Creative Writers Workshop at Abraka
Although it was only five days before the commencement of the first semester examination at the Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, two weeks ago, the Creative Writers’ Workshop, still held. As usual, the atmosphere was awash with expectation, as the university’s literary apprentices looked forward to an inspiring moment from the two resource persons on the bill.
Venue was Hall A of the institution, where the weekly meeting turned out to be insightful for the aspiring writers. Their creative imagination was heightened with an illuminating lecture on children’s literature by Matilda Tuoyo Ovie-Jack, a lecturer at the Department of Foundation and General Studies, Delta State School of Marine Technology, Burutu, and a talk given by Mr. Peter Omoko, who teaches literature at Delta State College of Physical Education, Mosogar.
Ovie-Jack displayed literary and scholarly brilliance, which held the young audience spellbound for more than 30 minutes. She posited, “Despite the widespread association of children’s literature with picture books and spoken narratives, it existed long before printing, and the root of many children’s tales goes back to folktales. Children’s literature refers to all literature that are meant for or told to the very young.”
Citing authorities to buttress her points, the budding literary critic said for a work of literature to be classified as children’s literature, it must contain “a world of feeling, perception and experience which represents a child’s world.”
The Itsekiri-born scholar articulated that African oral tradition and children’s literature imported from Europe constitute the evolution of children’s literature, specifically in Nigeria. She went on to give aspects of children’s literature, which she said manifest in plot, theme, style and characterisation. Ovie-Jack, who is also a post-graduate student of DELSU, informed the audience among other salient points that folklore and oral tradition, history, family, school life, growing up issues count among what make up materials for children’s literature.
She also enumerated the uses of children’s literature, how it educates, entertains, promotes moral values, broadens and sensitises young ones to current political, social and scientific issues. Ovie Jack said such literature helps children to develop language, literacy and creative thinking skills. For aspiring and established writers of children’s literature, she said, “Writing for children is an opportunity to educate and entertain children.
Thus, writers of children’s literature must “demonstrate critical experience in their orientation in choosing their subject matter, structure, and language”, and they “have to place themselves in the position of children in order to appreciate their preferences, tastes, likes and dislikes.”
Ovie-Jack ended her lecture by challenging the creative and literary minds that “every extra challenge you face when writing for children will be more than worth it.”
OMOKO, author of the play, Crude Nightmen, gave words of advice to the creative apprentices on how to hone their artistic skills. He regaled the undergraduates on how he started writing, his motivation, and the social vision of his works and applauded them for holding the flag of creative writing aloft. He told them that with patience and consistent writing, they could hold their own anywhere in the world and measure up to their literary peers.
There were poetry performances from Jerome Okeme, who did ‘Yes to education’ and Karo Enajemo’s ‘Hear Me’ and a drama performance. Members of the Creative Writers’ Workshop present included Evans Nwene, Benson Eguono, Ese Ozimi, Eguono Okpako, Peter Obiajulu, Fortune Aganbi, Owhe-Ureghe Oreva, Isaac Samuel, Nwanne Favour, Cephas Victory, Awhairie Joannah, Ojeifoh Hilary, Theophilus Dirisu, and Epue Peter. Other were Imhonopi Freda, On-Emore Blossom, Sarah Alegbe, Ovedje Eunice, Ofienbor Stephen, Ofenomor God’sfavour, Onomavwe Joy, Demetiede Adventus, Okonjo Jennifer, Paul Esther, Oghenekaro Josephine, Odu Nnamdi, Sunday Roalnd, Okioma Joy, Oghojafor Peace, Emordi Precious and Adoh Nwakaego.
* Comrade Oreh is a student of the Department of English and Literary Studies (DELSU), Abraka