Umari Ayim is a lawyer, writer and poet. Umari has always had a passion for writing since she was a little girl living in the bustling city of Lagos. As a member of the Literary and Debating Society of her secondary school, Umari served as the director of poetry and also wrote stage plays for the society. Her first book, a novel, ‘Twilight at Terracotta Indigo’ won the ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa Prize for Women Writing in 2011. Her second book, a collection of poems titled ‘Inside My Head’ won the ANA Poetry Prize the following year in 2012.
Following the success of her works, Umari was featured in several newspapers like the Guardian Newspaper where an article titled ‘Twilight at Terracotta Indigo: A healing process’ was published on September 10, 2011. Feature stories on Umari’s works were also published in Leadership Newspapers, Vanguard Newspapers on September 9, 2011 and June 9, 2013 respectively.
As a social commentator and gender activist, Umari has also published several articles published in both traditional and online media platforms. The following articles were published in the Guardian Newspapers:
- Whipping Skirts and the Fraternity of the Boys – 9 July, 2009.
- Amnesty, the Day After – 19 August 2009
- A Country on Life Support – December 2009
- Lessons from the Tiger Woods Saga – 22 February 2010
- The Political Tragedy of Nigeria – 15 April 2010
- Between the Deji of Akure and the Nigerian Culture – 17 June 2010
- Charity Begin in Cote d’Ivoire – 21 January 2011
Umari is an advocate for gender equality and identifies as a feminist.
REVIEW OF PUBLISHED WORKS BY JUDGES, REVIEWER AND POETS
Twilight at Terracotta Indigo, a work of fiction set in Lagos Nigeria was nominated in two categories and won the Association of Nigerian Authors – ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa Prize for women writing in 2011. Below are the comments of the panel of judges of the Association of Nigerian Authors and a Canadian books reviewer:
ANA Judges on Twilight at Terracotta Indigo
“The text is an intriguing tale of love and betrayals among well-to-do society people situated in a Lagos milieu. Well composed and highly imaginative, it is strong on description with an impressionable and colourful sense of place, and a heightened sense of mystery and suspense. This is a well-crafted story about a search for personal identity, for a “real” self. A novel with a highly-relevant psychological outlook, Twilight at Terracotta Indigo invites the reader to join the female protagonist Marlene in regaining memory through an encounter with art. The novel’s interest in women is captured through women’s conditions in marriage, memory and search for selfhood and fulfilment. “
Amy McKie, Canadian Reviewer and blogger
“As with many romance/thriller books, this one frustrated me to no end in parts, but in the end it was an enjoyable read and I am glad I gave it a chance. Ayim has blended together intrigue, romance and even some humour to create a fun read to entertain for a few hours.”
Reviews for Inside my Head
Umari’s second work, ‘Inside my Head’, a collection of poems won the ANA Poetry Prize in 2012. The work received high praise and was touted as one of the best work of poetry for the year. Below are comments from judges and other poets:
ANA panel of judges
“Ayim deftly transmutes words into sonorous cadences in invoking variegated moods into life touching issues such as love, hard work, corruption, justice, humility, poverty, political power, revolution, bad governance, ethnicity, gender equality, national unity, European imperialism and African unity.
Her dexterity in creating sustained rhythms and patterns of visual and auditory imagery in simple diction is phenomenal. Ayim’s ingenuity in the manipulation of diction makes a significant contribution to the development of Nigerian poetry in English.”
Segun Ozique, Author OF William Qest and co-author of ‘We want more’
“The book is a stunning and illuminating collection of poems. Umari’s writing shows her grasp of contemporary social situation is presented in expressively rich figurative language, imagery and beautiful pictorial text.
Ayim’s poems have souls. She writes with passion, feelings and subjective point of view which in my opinion are artistic airing at its best. What is more appealing in her writing is the ardour and sensation in the technique of presentation.
The collection shows humanity at its most wide-ranging dimension, touching on the metaphysical, love relationship, leadership and social shenanigans, psychological and spiritual get-away e.t.c she succeeded in her attempt to present the images not as abstractions but real, with real people, real places and real circumstances. A lot of writers will benefit from her style of organization and presentations, where each poem and sub-group pf poems throw light on the other/others in pattern and coherence.”
Chiedu Ezeanah, author of Solar Elegies
“Joseph Brodsky, the Nobel Laureate, posits that poetry can be analytical, lyrical and revelational; Umari Ayim’s first collection of poems, Inside my Head, manifest poetry as a revelation. Inside my Head explores the webs and enigmas of existence in diverse modes, the ruminative and the reflective; the devotional and the mediative, the satirical and the prophetic; the narrative and epistolary – to celebrate the music of the spirit and the rustic; the joys and sorrows of womanhood and the struggle of the dispossessed.
Umari Ayim’s original and assured poetic voice, though predominantly sombre, also resonates with hope of redemption for her land, in her poems of love and nature. A deep and truly refreshing poet is born.”