The July 2017 edition of the monthly Words Rhymes & Rhythm backed BRIGITTE POIRSON has been won by Aire Joshua Omotayo, the second winner from Edo state in as many editions.
Aire, a 21-year-old from Irrua in Esan Central local government of Edo State, is a programmer, campus journalist and writer who started off with writing essays and articles from his secondary school days before taking up poetry in 2015.
His poem ‘HOW TO ESCAPE THE FIRE’ was adjudged the best of over 100 entries, beating ‘MAD MEN MUST NOT EAT CAKE AT NIGHT’ by BPPC serial finalist and two-time winner, Kanyinsola Olorunnisola, to and MOTHER by Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto first and second runner-up position
The July edition was themed ‘THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT’.
Below are the top 10 poems:
- HOW TO ESCAPE THE FIRE by Aire Joshua Omotayo
- MAD MEN MUST NOT EAT CAKE AT NIGHT’ by Kanyinsola Olorunnisola
- MOTHER by Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto
- EROSION by Oppong Clifford Benjam
- BIRDS ARE MADE TO FLY by Nemi Otikor
- THE FACULTY OF BERSERK ARRANGEMENTS by Nelson C.J
- CLOUD’S CRY by Savage Rahmotallah Abisola
- TEARS TO TWO by Ajisafe Victory Tobiah
- I LOVE A FIREFLY by Owoeye Olaniyi Andrew
- BEING DIVERGENT by Solomon Olajide Oladipupo
HOW TO ESCAPE THE FIRE by Aire Joshua Omotayo
hold your waist in the middle of the wind,
gulp the breeze till it reaches the brim
then wait and say your name to the face of the debris,
let your eyes be filled with rage; then run!
write yourself a dirge
and let your feet stick into a broken poetry,
let the rhythm sway you amidst the broken lines
then watch as tears trek down bitter faces; then run!
fill your eyes with burning rivers,
trap a rainbow around their edges
then watch as the rains falls bitterly on you,
break the rainbow and fight back with the flood in your eyes; then run!
when the moon is lost,
hold your shadow from dancing into the night’s pouch
then seek the stars and fetch a cup of light,
drink to your fill and stare at the sun’s rays; then run!
run! run!! run!!!
like insomnia escapes into the spaces of dreamland
when whipped by boring lullabies…
…like an antelope sprinting on a river track
When it smells the hunter’s headlights
run! run!! run!!!
and this is how to escape the fire
MAD MEN MUST NOT EAT CAKE AT NIGHT by Kanyinsola Olorunnisola
My fatherland is a paradise on fire, a forsaken kingdoM,
all our gods are drunkards clothed in the sanctity of agbada,
drinking away the glorious dreams the oracle foretold.
My poems are famished ghosts bearing dreadful mayheM,
endless in their ghastly terror to expose and exterminate
night-demons planting shadows in the womb of our nation.
May these cursed words be the queer heralds of dooM
upon the plotters planning plunder against this plateau,
soldiers of the army of darkness have made home of our shores,
take up words with me in battle, together we must fight.
Narcissism has taken captive the hearts of our meN,
our wondrous woes woven into teary tales told on the radio,
today, let us rise against the evil in the land with all our might.
Excuse me if my sharp-edged diction cuts you like a knifE,
a poet becomes a butcher with a few lines and a stanza,
the true taste of freedom lies in rebellion’s forbidden fruit.
Come be weird with me, let our madness be electriC,
annihilate the spirit of fear with defiance and chutzpa,
knock down society’s walls of hate, brick by brick,
engender a rebirth to usher in a newer, brighter age.
Antoinette’s incarnates may try to silence our brouhahA,
tell them that this revolution is a song that can never go quiet.
Never eat the national cake with those who starve the natioN,
indulge not your values in the flexibility of an origami,
giwa, wiwa, and fela are entombed in history’s gong,
hailed each as heroes for daring to be a norm-breaking pariah,
they were mad men who never sold their souls – never ate cake at night.
MOTHER by Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto
Mother is round and patched with boiling hearts,
knock-knees, dismembered intestines and soured tongues.
Her dreams are of people humming lost songs.
And her face is the distance between sadness and unhappiness.
Her heart holds chambers of soaring dusts and ravaging storms.
One chamber harbours Father who left some time ago
but never returned and never wrote her any words.
Another harbours men with brushes trying to paint semen in-between her thighs.
So every night I draw her face on an empty canvass,
as happiness is far from her, I give her a smiling face.
I stretch her lips to her ears that she may forever know
happiness in my eyes and in the eyes of those who rape her with things.
In the mornings, I also put my lips upon hers to bury in my mouth
the nightmares of people here and there living in ruins, dried as bones;
of people forcing a god over other peoples’ god, crimsoning sands;
of people who write love off their hearts to replace it with ammos, shells, grenades;
of a boy who wanted to die another day burnt alive for scooping a handful of garri;
of killings and counter-killings somewhere in the Niger-Delta and Bayelsa;
of girls caged by men at twelve or ten or thereabout and used to soothe itches;
of souls in prisons and elsewhere shrinking, crying, wailing…
But my mouth cannot bury them all, it is too small graveyard.
Then I try to search her eyes
to see if I can find any pint of hope,
no matter how small.
EROSION by Oppong Clifford Benjam
A mother once said to her daughters:
fill a man’s heart with rich loamy soil
and plant in it a sprig of acacia
that it may blossom
but most importantly note that
the storm will pass by your farm
and manure will join the rest of earth
to be washed away.
Away everything may fly
your acacia may go too
your sweet acacia may go to another woman
and strangely your acacia may be doing well
in its new earth.
Dear daughters, verily! Verily!! I say
acacias are not to be eaten
loamy soils are found in every pair of trousers
cry a short while for your lost acacia
refill, re-plant and expect the storm again
that’s how to live loving.
BIRDS ARE MADE TO FLY by Nemi Otikor
(For Maya Angelou’s I know why the caged bird sings)
Did they clip your wings
In doctrines of righteous jealousy
In holy chimes of saintly sanctimony
And ordained you, wallflower of all eternity
Such graceful beauty for Oru-be’s consumption?
Fly little bird, find your heart and fly
Grow and then fly.
Did they cage your being
Sapping bravery in orbs of fear bars
Breathing metals; coughing cages; sneezing shackles
A mute synecdoche, Oru-be, their father
Beak on, little bird, don’t just lie
Grow, heal and then fly.
Did they poach your song
Forgotten, your voice cracks
Impoverished, you await Oru-be’s verdict
Boycott the sermon from the gavel, child.
Did they cackle at your brave confusion
Chuckle at your tear-mapped faced
Chortle at the throes of your hope
Recover, rejuvenate, little bird, stop the sigh
And heal then fly.
*Oru-be: An Okrika word for the devil.
*Okrika is a miniority group in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Their language is Okrika.
THE FACULTY OF BERSERK ARRANGEMENTS by Nelson C.J
It was in the fore, in your teeth,
A hard thing to gnash.
It made crystal spaces in the milky set.
Then these spaces were openings,
These openings a passage way,
This passage way?
Now that you have luxiriated in thirsting-
In conditioning your body to read titchy lines,
To align with the things that terrify the Je June.
To wink at a boy or say a luxurious Hello.
To allow yourself dismay when he says Wetin Happen?-
And not Hello, back.
Nice, and carrying, and suggestive, and askew, and wrongly right.
Now that you have spiked up to own your body, soul, being, and thoughts.
The Faculty of Berserk arrangements immure in your brains,
Shake their wizened strands at this.
You dey fine trouble, they clang!
Society attenuates your likes that ruffle it’s stiff, stiff plaits.
Now that you have spiked up to learn your body the truth of desire,
Society, as always, as in all things perturbing-
Has things to say.
CLOUD’S CRY by Savage Rahmotallah Abisola
The bright blue sky turns pale in confusion
Like a bee trying to get nectar from the sun
Cold breeze hits my gentle skin
Sending shivers down my spine
Thunder growls from afar
Mother Nature must be angry i think
Bitter tears rolls down her rosy cheek
Pouring down in thick sheets of water
Submerging the earth and sky
Making it difficult to ascertain
If the rumbling thunder
From above or from below.
TEARS TO TWO by Ajisafe Victory Tobiah
Your mother was the ocean that gave birth to the Earth,
My mother was the atm’sphere that gave birth to the sky;
And we the children, mortal and unblind
Saw I, did You; saw you, did I.
If only I can hold You tightly through the lonely nights:
I wish- my tears that jump on You to your mother ride
As your mother flies to mine, I stared
Violently at the sea; cruelly at the ocean, breaking
The cobbles, the veil- shall I come down or You come up?
These words and tears I drip are mine!
My mother was a lioness that birthed a kitten;
Your mother was a rabbit, so cute the rat rat she’d borne!
And we the children, mortal and unblind
Caught sight did I of Your sapphire eyes
But I know not what You caught-sight-of of I.
I feel the fire inside my chest: your sapphire!
But if I be too close to You to touch your gentleskin;
To taste the You flavoured kiss, to ride on the wind
And touch its horn, ignite the rainbow, to dance
In Tigris and Euphrates. To feast your eyes to mine,
And beat in your chest. But then I’d be close.
‘If I be too close, I ought to eat you, you to cower.’
So said my mother; so said your mother.
But No, let’s burn these tears in the ocean’s fire
And dance among the ashes to the tune of our hearts.
We’d bend in and eat till we die out, I in You; You in I.
These words and tears I drip are mine!
I LOVE A FIREFLY by Owoeye Olaniyi Andrew
I love a fleeing firefly
I desire its beauty
But it mocks me
Its incandescent belly houses a pyre!
I shouldn’t do this!
How can I love him?
Cupid hears and smiles
For he has pierced the Bull’s eye
I am a boy
The firefly is a man
His nakedness dances in my thoughts
And his shadow lays with me
I laugh at the pyre
Don’t you dare forbid me!
My heart bears the arrow
And I will go where it points.
BEING DIVERGENT by Solomon Olajide Oladipupo
Yesterday, I asked my mother how to rule the world
She said, ”Befriend the sky; never wait for the slow patters of rusty roofs.”
Yesterday, I asked my father how to rule the world
He said: “Be meek as lamb but brave as lion; never trust tortoise and his old tricks.”
Today, I walk many roads—
Some to the North, and some to the South
Some to the East, and some to the West
Some to the right, and some to the left
Some to blight, and some to light—
Today, I walk many roads
I want to rule many worlds,
conquer many skies
I want to be a thousand flies
free above many fears and frights
I tried to fly, but wings won’t grow
I tried to glow, but fade rather slow
Tho’ I walk many roads
I will take that road less travelled
And like Frost, I’ll make all the difference
And fly my stars in nightly glows
By virtue of his victory, Aire takes over the BPPC bragging rights from his fellow Edo compatriot and winner of the June edition of the contest, Oka Benard Osahon. He will also get the top prize of N7000 cash, a certificate, and books. All top 10 poems will be automatically entered for the ALBERT JUNGERS POETRY PRIZE (AJPP) 2017 and published in the BPPC 2017 anthology. The poets in the TOP 10 list will each receive a certificate and free copies of the BPPC 2017 anthology, to be awarded at the Words Rhymes & Rhythm Literary Festival 2017.
“Finding a winner for the Juky edition proved to be a difficult, albeit rewarding task that I would gladly do again, because of the diversity of the entries, the originality of their metaphors and the overall creativity expressed by all of the entrants. Indeed all those who participated should see themselves as winners, in some way.”
— BPPC July, 2017 Judge
The Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest, a brainchild of Words Rhymes & Rhythm (WRR), is a monthly writing contest aimed at rewarding the under-appreciated talent of young Nigerian poets. It was instituted in February 2015 in honor of Brigitte Poirson, a French poet and lecturer, editor, who has over the years worked assiduously to promote and support of African poetry. Now in its third season, and being one of the few credible contests for poets, the BPPC has since grown to be one of country’s most popular, especially among the younger poets.
NOTE: Submissions are being received for the AUGUST 2017 edition!
I am a member of the WRR editorial team.