Athens, Ga. – Akinloye Ojo, an assistant professor of comparative literature in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, has been named winner of a grant from the PEN Translation Fund, one of only 11 funded out of 139 applicants.
Ojo’s grant is for the translation of Afaimo and Other Poems (1972) the only poetry collection by Akimwumi Isola, a Nigerian novelist, playwright and one of the foremost figures of Yoruba literature.
“Moving between exhortatory matter-of-factness and ecstatic incantation, these poems are a love song to the language in which they were written,” the PEN American Center said in announcing the award.
A noted scholar, writer and teacher, Ojo is probably best known to the northeast Georgia community as the writer, producer and host of “African Perspectives,” a weekly radio show on WUGA-FM 91.7/97.9 FM with which he has been involved since 1997.
“I would like to say that the PEN Translation Fund grant is an attestation of the value of Isola’s poetry to the Yoruba language,” said Ojo, who also is a member of UGA’s African Studies Institute. “It is also an added motivation for my attempt to translate the Afaimo anthology into English.”
Ojo, also on the faculty of the linguistics program at UGA, teaches the Yoruba language and conducts research on applied linguistics and language pedagogy, among several areas. He is the author of several books, including the upcoming A Sociolinguistic and Phonological Analysis of English Words in Yoruba.
He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, his master’s degree at Cornell University and his doctoral degree from UGA, all in linguistics. In addition, he earned a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from UGA. He became an assistant professor here in 2004.
The PEN Translation Fund was established in 2003 with a gift from an anonymous donor concerned about the lack of translated literature in English. In the seven years of its existence, the fund has supported more than 72 translation projects from more than 30 languages, many of which have gone on to be published, PEN says, to considerable acclaim.