Ogaga Ifowodo was born in 1966 in Oleh, Delta State, Nigeria. A lawyer, he holds an MFA from Cornell University. He has published Homeland & Other Poems (1998), which in manuscript won the 1993 Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) poetry prize; Madiba, winner of the 2003 ANA/Cadbury poetry prize; The Oil Lamp (2005), and Homeland (1999), a German-English selection of his poems.
He worked for eight years with the Civil Liberties Organisation, Nigeria’s premier human rights group, and between 1997 and 1998 was held under preventive detention by the then military regime of General Sani Abacha on account of his human rights activism; a memoir of his prison experience, an excerpt from which was included in the anthology, Gathering Seaweed: African Prison Writing (Heinemann, 2002), is in progress.
He is included in the anthologies, Step Into A World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature (John Wiley, 2000) and 25 Nigerian Poets (Ishmael Reed Publishing Co., 2000). His work has been featured in The Times Literary Supplement, The Massachusetts Review, The Dalhousie Review, Atlanta Review, Poetry International, Mantis (forthcoming). In 1998, he was named recipient of the PEN USA Barbara Goldsmith Freedom-to-Write Award and of the Poets of All Nations (Netherlands) “Free Word” Award. He is an honorary member of the PEN centres of the USA, Canada and Germany and a fellow of the Iowa Writing Program. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D in English and cultural studies at Cornell.
“In its music, wisdom, and dazzling exploration of human interiority, Madiba joins that small group of extraordinary books that teach us how to be worthy of our dreams” Professor Kenneth McClane, poet and W.E.B. Du Bois professor of English at Cornell University.
He was part of the poetry reading session organized by the Delta Literary Forum (DLF) in Asaba.