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A student of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Otubelu Chinazom Chukwudi, has emerged the winner of the May edition of the BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST (BPPC) 2016.

Otubelu, a native of Isiekwulu Village, Ukpo, Dunukofia Local Government Area, Anambra State, studied Electrical/Electronic Engineering at FUTO. He was born on the 17th of September, 1991 in Asaba, Delta State, where he had both his primary and secondary education.

The student engineer clinched the top spot with an undeniably elegant masterpiece entitled ‘MY GIFT TO YOU’. Coming second is Mbagu Valentine Chigozie with his poem ‘I HEARD THESE WORDS’ while Agbaakin Oluwatoyosi Jeremiah took the second-runner-up position with ‘THE HERB BARD’.

The BPPC May, 2016, was themed ‘HEALING WITH WORDS’ in honour of all those facing the threat of cancer and other diseases. It was born out of the belief that words, and indeed poetry, are incredibly powerful, creating instantaneous and often dramatic changes in the mind and body of those who hear (read) them.

Below are the TOP 10 entries:

  1. MY GIFT TO YOU by Otubelu Chinazom Chukwudi
  2. I HEARD THESE WORDS by Mbagu Valentine Chigozie
  3. THE HERB BARD by Agbaakin Oluwatoyosi Jeremiah
  4. WAIL NO MORE by James T. Abel Adesitimi
  5. HEALING WORDS by Johnson Oyero
  6. VERSES FOR THE GRIEVING by Arokhamoni William Oluwaseun
  7. A LETTER TO AMINA by Izuchukwu Saviour Otubelu
  8. HEART EXCHANGE by Udokamma Benedict Wilfred
  9. THESE BREEZES OF DISEASES by Abegunde Sunday Olaoluwa

MY GIFT TO YOU by Otubelu Chinazom Chukwudi 

Soul of a goddess, breathe life to thy soul
For yonder stars have pumped the thin sky whole
Fear not, these rivers will not your fair cheeks take
Your grief is mine too; the taste of flourless cake

I felt thy stabbing pain tons of miles afar
Leaping like a thief; it hurt me like a scar
Sweet rhymes I have sung to soothe thy ailing head
Pray, heed my humble voice that mumbles at thy bed

That arrow must be smart, long live the marksman!
In rotting red tombs – the architect’s void plan
Yet, your frail feet will not fall to shackles of shame
For wise chords have struck the lush rhythm of thy fame

I know you as a rock – the strength I never had
To part with you is hell; no thought ever so bad
This day may mock your sweat, but never your last be
The morrow shines so bright upon thy shadow’s tree

As softly as smooth silk sails the tranquil sea
Upon that cold gob that craves the heat of tea
Blind eyes have gone deaf; this gate shall quake soon
In calm air or tempest, embrace the mild moon

When will your smile talk to the tall hills again,
Kissing kinks of shut eyes with chills of night rain?
Take my warm hand as wand to thrill thy magic flight
O’er thorns and monstrous pawns from endless morn to night

I HEARD THESE WORDS by Mbagu Valentine Chigozie

Lost in the tunnel of suffering and her struggles,
I saw thick darkness in the broad daylight;
Life became worthless and living disdained,
For all hope was lost as I cursed my existence.

I was bitten by the venom of struggle and distress,
For the hope within me seemed hopeless;
Agony and sorrow was my wine and feast,
And I cursed the very kind air I’d breath.

Amidst all this I hoped for a better hope,
I yawned for words to heal my solitude heart;
And I heard these words saying do not be dismayed,
These words I inhaled gave light to my darkness.

As battered, shattered and scattered as I was,
Still I found reason to fight life’s poisonous venom;
These words I inhaled healed my heart and struggles,
For within me I saw hope knocking at my door.

Despite the thick darkness, I saw light smiling at me,
Words within me came alive and hope was rekindled;
These words I heard gave me reason to live again,
For life became worth living as I inhaled these words.

THE HERB BARD by Agbaakin Oluwatoyosi Jeremiah

If words are herbs that heal
I’ll grow a garden of poems uphill
With nimble hands prune my thoughts
Trimming thorns and brambles to blunt
I’ll brew a potion for the poor in spirit
Words well groomed are scions in festering gores
Grafted, they render anthems of pain unsung.

Mother writhes and dies on a cradle
I was in court when the doctor hit the gavel
And sentenced her to be soon cancelled by cancer
Ma, I bring balm of hope from this gourd
Grown on the manure of love and bleeding care.

To John, who just saw his home
Melt with the screams of marital woes
House is the painted smile on a mother’s face
He seeks a home where peace is a language
I bring a vase of lullabies to massage your ache
By my Epic, shall John ‘meet on’ a Paradise lost.

I’m a herb-bard that sows healing words
On well mowed mind; to harvest by tender blade of tongue
You’ve carried a pregnancy of malice for long
My Frankincense shall fan the dying embers of kindness
So love may roar and quench the red hot hate
That laps fiercely against the hearth of your hearts
I’m a herb-bard that grows life in my orchard.

Words are bricks that build our world
In days of yore, the universe they forged
An alphabet strung onto another, like chromosomes in cells
Each syllable the Almighty spat plunged her fangs
As termites, burrowing dirts to mould a haven.

WAIL NO MORE by James T. Abel Adesitimi

Wail no more, dear Mama Africa:
These illnesses won’t pluck your life!
Tears aren’t herbs, and can’t cure cuta:
Wail no more, dear Mama Africa!

Coffin-desire will rage this wahala:
Please don’t stab your breath with knife!
Wail no more, dear Mama Africa!
These illnesses won’t pluck your life.

Wail no more, dear Mama Africa!
You’ll soon hike on the earth of health.
If plants can still survive in Sahara,
Wail no more, dear Mama Africa!

Pray God your heart like king Hezekiah:
He’ll rain years on your age with health.
Wail no more, dear Mama Africa!
You’ll soon hike on the earth of health.

Wail no more, dear Mama Africa:
These words have injected you health!
If death comes now with his phobia,
Wail no more, dear Mama Africa!

For you’ll fly into that heavenly Alaafia:
Where your joy shall shame the death.
Wail no more, dear Mama Africa:
These Words have injected you health!

Cuta – diseases or sicknesses in Hausa language.
Wahala- it means problem in pidgin English. It has Hausa origin.
Alaafia- it means peace in Yoruba language.
Sahara- The Sahara desert

HEALING WORDS by Johnson Oyero 

What is this stream that floods your cannula,
Vivacious lady in sickly cocoon? The pill,
The cream, and the baked powder on your phalanges, are
They turned into three course meal?

Is it true your days are three scores here?
And you fear your three-scores and a decade year
Will clasp in like the tower of Babel?
So you let you spirited smile die like echoes of a bell

Listen! I have some words to tell you.
You will live again, again and again!
My diagnosis says to you, and to you
Is this dose of word: you will live again!

Experience tells me, and my sixth sense says
You doubt my gospel, but you need not.
Though the depth of your grief cannot be touched by X-rays,
I am a specialist who will heal your rot

No stethoscope, for you need it not
But I give you love-you are starved of it
Ten doses, twenty-four seven heals your rot
Lady, you are loved far more than ordinary beast

See, I have implored the planets of nine
The coldest Pluto, and the hottest Mercury
Not to hinder this rising sun of mine
Sending you love in bundles, displacing your worry.

This sun is risen over the Orient with healing
Alas, the clouds of love is precipitating
And a thrilling sensation will sweep all scars
You will rise in quantum leaps to Leo’s stars

VERSES FOR THE GRIEVING by Arokhamoni William Oluwaseun

[“Twenty boys cannot play for twenty years
With time play must break to the sound of sad farewells”]

Regard not, Think not death high and mighty
When it from your loved ones does separate
And leaves you to yourself on dark lonely nights
Deprived of a companion, sibling or dear mate.

Cry not, Drench not your sheets with saline tears
When you from your dreams do awake
Of dearest companions now spoken as dead
Who once shared your deepest sorrows and heartaches.

Feel not, experience not long bouts of sorrow
When thoughts of the dead come to mind
Leaving you null, empty and hollow
As they of passed loved ones remind.

For if death was ever mighty and the dark reaper near strong
It will with the dead, whisk their memories away
But yet sharp as ever, they still linger on
Loud whispers of comfort, till we meet in heaven again.

[For if death leaves an heartache no human can heal
Love leaves a memory no enemy[death] can steal.]

A LETTER TO AMINA by Izuchukwu Saviour Otubelu

Black goddess, who paints a portrait with her smile
I hear your wail echo across the banks of Nile
The yellow flames of thy fair face feebly burn
Like tired flickers of a lazy lantern

Red scorpions have eaten up the charms of thy face
But thy candle yet blazes with pace and grace
Western winds may blow; earth’s pillars may quake
Yet the soul of a sleeping goddess shall not wake

Do mortal eyes behold the spirit of death?
Pray, black goddess, kiss me with the lips of thy breath
Listen to my song; the words I speak are not vain
These dying bones shall breathe again after the rain

The heart of a black goddess is hard as steel
Blind wheels of a moving train shall not bruise thy heels
For the skeleton of thy soul is bronze and brass
If the moon, sun, and stars shall pass, this too shall pass

Listen, I will tell you tales of the wailing past
My mother told me the same tales too; it passed
Do you see nothing beyond these shades of gleam?
Sleep, sleep, black goddess; dream this dream that I have dreamed

My ink is no more, but my words live, black goddess
The spirit of my words shall bear me witness

HEART EXCHANGE by Udokamma Benedict Wilfred

If I die today,
Would you live for me?
Would you take on two lives
Knowing that my heart now beats in yours?

If I exhale my last,
Would you breathe it in,
Willing my air to ease the choke
That looms with despair over your throat?

Let me hold you close
‘Till my hands grow too cold for a grip,
Watching my world establish in your eyes
As mine contract and close up forever.

Let them flow; your tears,
And drench my dry thirsty soul.
Let them go; your fears,
And the light of my plight shall lead you home.

As I die today,
I know my heart lives in you.
Just pray I make my way to heaven
And then I’ll pray for you…

THESE BREEZES OF DISEASES by Abegunde Sunday Olaoluwa 

O’ breezes of diseases
Please cease to seize lives.
O’ soldiers of death, please leave
Leave, so innocent souls may live;
These diseases are armies attacking.

With hey ho* diseases came,
to launch pain missile into our heart.
and play the elegaic tunes of groaning
drumming betwixt our wish to be in health
and the pseudo-reality of journeying to death.

With hey-ho diseases came,
to attack the cities of our bodies
holding hostage our zeal to live on;
worries like warriors laying ambush
along the lanes of our tender emotions.

With hey-ho diseases came,
to imprison us in our own cells
and make body tissues an issues
Won’t disease cease to burden bodies
with loads of fear and stripes of anguish.

With hey-ho diseases came,
as a nightmare to ensnare us.
Though we’re crying, we war on!
Though we’re dying, we wrestle on!
As hope guides our heart to survival.

With hey-ho diseases wants us killed
But in God’s name we’d be healed.

*(The coinage ‘hey-ho’ was first used by Williams Shakespeare in his poem ‘With Hey-ho the wind and the rain. It is used in this context to mean disease came with its trouble’ )


The echoes of our vocal vituperations
Shatter the ego of our kiths and kins
The slightest emission of our verbal verbosity
Clearly pollute the atmosphere surrounding even kings and queens

To all the hearts in disarray
What is meant to lighten your way…
Is the sun as it sends down its rays
So, pick your gauntlet up with renewed vigour

To you, I send these words today!

Please, friend, toss aside this day that garb of discouragement
The yearnings of your mind, though loud yet untold
With the passage of time, its reality will speak…
Majestically and yes! In many folds

Rejoice, be glad and make merry
Destiny delayed alas not destiny denied
Gaze upon the future with revealed assurance
That what you seek, my dear! In the end surely you shall get

To you, these words are not story told!

Now, roll out the drums and let your hips sway
To the infectious rhythmic play
Of the sounds of music, to you…
I plead, your rekindled hope, let others partake!

Otubelu will go home with a cash of N5,000, a copy of the 2015 and 2016 BPPC anthologies as well as the bragging BPPC rights, until another winner emerged in July. He will also be featured as the WRR POETRY Poet of The Week.
All the other poets who made the top 10 will get a free copy of the BPPC Anthology and certificate which will be awarded at the WRR ‘FEAST OF WORDS’ LITERARY FESTIVAL 2016 (October). Aside being published in the BPPC anthology, the TOP 10 poems will also be automatically entered for the ALBERT JUNGERS POETRY PRIZE 2016.

“Swarms of many soothing words have swooshed across the screen from the sweet sweat of the Muse! They have left me reeling. Archfeelings from archpoets only equaled the quality of their poetry, whether it was free verse or more classical. Congratulations to all again!
It’s been an exceptional crop, and I intend to thank every contributor-contestant.” — Brigitte Poirson

The BPPC is sponsored by WRR CEO Kukogho Iruesiri Samson in honor of Brigitte Poirson, a French poet and lecturer, editor who has worked tirelessly to promote and support of African poetry.

NOTE: Submissions are being received for the JUNE edition on the THEME: “CHANGE”.