Niyi Osundare, Ph.D., is a poet, dramatist, critic, essayist, and media columnist and holds the Africana Studies Professorship. Niyi Osundare has authored 18 books of poetry, two books of selected poems, four plays, a book of essays, and numerous monographs and articles on literature, language, culture, and society. He regards his calling as a writer and his profession as a teacher as essentially complementary. He was educated on three continents: B.A. (Honours) from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, M.A. from the University of Leeds in England, and Ph.D. from York University, Toronto, Canada. The wide and varied exposure accruing from this has proved very useful for his writing and teaching careers. Born in Nigeria, one of the most linguistically and culturally heterogeneous countries in the world, he learnt early in life the complexities and challenges of diversity.
He began his teaching career at the University of Ibadan in 1974 and rose to the position of full professor there in 1989. From 1993 to 1997, he was the Chair of the Department of English at the University of Ibadan. He was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1990 to 1991, and in 1991-1992, an Associate Professor of English at the University of New Orleans, to which he returned as full professor in 1997, and was selected University Research Professor in 2001 and Distinguished Professor of English in 2011. His areas of specialization are African Literature, Literature of the African Diaspora, Literary Stylistics, Sociolinguistics, and Creative Writing. In 2005, he was selected Fellow of the Nigeria Academy of Letters (NAL), the country’s highest Academy for the Humanities. For his creative works, Osundare has received many prizes: the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Prize, the Cadbury/ANA Prize, the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Noma Award (Africa's most prestigious book award), the Tchicaya U Tam’si Award for African Poetry, and the Fonlon/Nichols Award for "excellence in literary creativity combined with significant contributions to Human Rights in Africa". He has carried out readings and performances of his works in many parts of the world, and his poems have been translated into French, Italian, Slovenian, Dutch, German, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, and Korean. His poem ‘Raindrum’ was selected as Nigeria’s contribution to the cultural events which complemented the 2012 London Olympics, and featured in a special series celebrating the Games. He has been a recipient of honorary doctorates from the Universite de Toulouse-le Mirail in France and Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire. He is a columnist for Newswatch, a prominent Nigerian news magazine; he maintains a weekly poetry column (Lifelines) in Nigeria’s Sunday Tribune, and is a frequent newspaper radio and television commentator on current affairs.