Bayelsa-born African poet, Prince Nengi Josef Owei-ilagha, fondly called Pope Pen Constantine The First, has indicated interest to run for the office of President, Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, following revelations that the electoral committee of the Association may welcome new contestants at the rescheduled national convention of the Association. Recall that the last convention of the Association in Enugu ended in a fiasco.
“I have a strong feeling that I am suitably equipped to run for the office, and I hope that the body of writers in Nigeria will be gracious enough to vote me in as the next President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA. I will do my best to remind all writers in Nigeria as to why the Association was formed in 1981 by Chinua Achebe, Africa’s pioneer novelist,” said the poet.
Pope Pen has worked as a journalist, broadcaster and public relations element. Born on Wednesday December 18, 1963, in Nembe, Bayelsa State, he read English & Literary Studies at the University of Port Harcourt. A one-time Editor of The Tide On Sunday in Port Harcourt, he was Speech Writer and Special Adviser on Research & Documentation to the Governor of Bayelsa State, Nigeria. He served the governments of Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for seven consecutive years.
Mantids, his first collection of poems, won the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, Poetry Prize in 1995. His poems have appeared in newspapers, journals and anthologies, including The Guardian, The Post Express, Voices From The Fringe, For Ken For Nigeria, Junge Nigerianische Lyrick, 25 New Nigerian Poets and Camouflage: Best of Contemporary Nigerian Writing.
Pope Pen is the pioneer chairman of ANA, Bayelsa State chapter. His titles on the Treasure Books label include Apples For You, his second offering of poems, A Birthday Delight, short stories, and I Want To Be A Senator, a collection of essays on the state of the nation. January Gestures, the first of twelve books of poetry under construction, was among the nine contenders for the controversial 2009 NLNG-Nigeria Prize for Literature.
He is also the author of February Fabrics, Sand House & Bones, A Drop Of Pentecost, Epistles To The President, Epistles To The Small Brave City-State, The Militant Writes Back, The Mayor of Fantuo, Thirty Pieces Of Sylva, Royal Mail, Serilla’s Story, Big Daddy, Free At Last, People, and More People. His new books, Sermons From The Oxbow Lake, The Last Days Of Gabriel Okara, and Flight, a new collection of one hundred poems, are due for public presentation in the first quarter of 2020.
Pope Pen is also the founding editor of Ofirima, journal of the Department of English, University of Port Harcourt, founding editor of Weekend Waves Weekly, the general interest weekend paper of the Bayelsa State Newspaper Corporation, and pioneer editor of The Mariner, journal of the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, Bayelsa State chapter.
He is editor of The Navigator, journal of the Nigerian Maritime University, and the princely publisher of Coastline News Network, your local CNN, a monthly newsmagazine with a trained focus on the Niger Delta. Mingi-Yai, crown prince of the Nembe Kingdom, is married to Bina Nengi-Ilagha, first female chairperson of ANA Bayelsa, and award-winning author of Condolences.