Kolawole Samuel Adebayo has emerged the winner of the April 2017 edition of the monthly Words Rhymes & Rhythm backed BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST (BPPC) on the theme ‘KNOWING SELF: THE MENTAL HEALTH SILENCE’.
Adebayo’s metaphor-laden poem, ‘death is a deliverance’, beat ‘BREAKING A FALL’ by D. E. Benson and ‘AN ELEGY’ by Aderonmu Joseph Ayotunde to first-runner-up and second runner-up positions respectively in a keenly contested edition.
Adebayor, the first in a family of five children, is an Agricultural Extension and Communication Technology student at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State and ardent lover of poetry who believes that “words are one of the world’s greatest assets”. He began writing poetry in January 2014 and has since had his work widely read.
His victory comes only one month after he made the top 10 list for the first time, clinching the 10th spot of the March 2017 edition of the contest.
Below are the top 10 entries:
- death is a deliverance by Adebayo Kolawole Samuel
- BREAKING A FALL by D. E. Benson
- AN ELEGY by Aderonmu Joseph Ayotunde
- SAVED BY THE SUN by Justice Gift Ogochukwu
- IMAGES by Alade Toheeb Oluwatoyin
- MUSINGS OF A BROKEN SOUL by Wisdom Nemi Otikor
- FAME FROM WATERS by Mesioye Johnson
- FROM BLADE TO BLACK by Dhee Sylvester
- notes to self by Ama Udofa
- AFTERMATH by Jonathan Otamere Endurance
death is a deliverance by Adebayo Kolawole Samuel
(of songs that heavy souls sing of death…)
i cross my legs
one upon the other
and drink memories into me
and sing songs like dirges and elegies.
i think of heartbreaks
and my art breaks loudly
like how this poem will soon break
into fragments in the middle of its alley.
how i sold firewood
to fend for four boys and an ailing mother.
how my work went into darkness— mother died.
and how Rose left me in the lurch.
it is true. roses are blue,
and cold too!
i drink more memories
into my belly of unspeakable words
and my heart becomes like a thousand valleys
of shadows of death and dried bones and swords.
and this war rages on within me.
i smile to my neighbour every morning
and i kiss my wife into reckless abandon.
but i am losing this war within
and one sturdy black rope is leading me
to the mango tree behind our small yard.
and i am thinking “when do i go?”
“eventide or midnight?”
i am singing myself a threnody:
“death is a deliverance. O death is a deliverance…”
BREAKING A FALL by D. E. Benson
sitting on a branch
in company of dusk
a soul opens
to share secrets
only his thought
and the air can hear
a mild breeze responds
speaking the tongue
oracle speaking in the tongue of leaves,
the soul concurs
off the branch
but a kind noose stretches
to catch him
around the neck . . .
AN ELEGY by Aderonmu Joseph Ayotunde
You picked up your own soul like a peg
and wrung it in a loop you made for yourself
till you saw the stars in their celestial conglomerate
and you can no longer look back to wave goodbye
I still reminisce the night we sat and watched
the dying embers of the cold harmattan
and we played host to the frigid touch of nature
never knew of your appointment with the slaying monster
Right under the shade of the big Iroko tree
we drew a world of our own out of thin air
we rode and journeyed through it on our horses of words
but now you’re lost in a voyage with no route to trace you back
Your smile was enough shadow for every of your devises
how I fell under the deception of the sweet wine we poured down
as you hid your pain gracefully each time you raised up your cup
never knew you left even while you are still around
I was around all day you should know
we could have worked hand in hands
on those nights that seemed darkest
together we could have walked us out this grief
But you left me with memories I can’t touch
wasted dreams, thwarted desires and tangled wishes
the marks on your neck will stay with me
and ignite always the deceptiveness in smiles.
SAVED BY THE SUN by Justice Gift Ogochukwu
Yesterday, i climbed up the cliff of my neck to jump off,
to let the wind expel me from my body
before it plunges and sinks to the bottom of forgottenness.
But the dying sun on the far bank winked at me.
He told me that he is an ogbanje,
that journeys death’s canal nightly
until god’s water breaks;
that death is a mute madman blacker than darkness,
with a mouth that stinks more than life;
that there’s no peace in his embrace,
only suffocating stillness.
He told me that he knows about depression,
of how a man grows into a sad boy
and lives in a corner of his body,
digging for the meaning of life in his sores, opening his veins
so that the voice of his blood can reach the ears of god
till he begins to find faith in emptiness.
“I find god in many things:
in petals that smile at me,
in portraits of my ephemeral life on canvasses of seas,
in seeing myself in the eyes of lovers.
Search! You’ll find paths in eyes
that lead to love poems.
Do not be fooled by the epitaph ‘rest in peace’,
stillness is not peace,
dying is overrated”.
IMAGES by Alade Toheeb Oluwatoyin
Some images walked with their heads
Some had countless limbs
Shadows bled in the centre of a Battle
Silhouettes stood with no visible images
Horrible masks faces wore
The life of abnormality they lived
Are they deities?
Amidst a torrential rain
Afar was a tempest
‘Run to the widest forest’
‘Eat your defecation’
Strange voices echoed
My hands were chained
My legs were shackled
Before me stood an ‘agbomola’
With an amulet and a magic wand
He sang incantation and chants of jinns
“What happened to me”?!
MUSINGS OF A BROKEN SOUL by Wisdom Nemi Otikor
How do you live in a body that curses you?
Do you make your skin a sanctuary of whoredom
And drown your being in a prayer of questions?
Or make your soul a graveyard of guilt
feeding your corpse with the foreskin of your shame?
There is a war in my head
A world of echoes and voices.
Mum says these are the demons
Come to feed off my soul.
She says ‘pray them away son,
Least they dwell longer.’
But this body is a senile stranger
A forgotten song of a broken dawn.
My soul is a wandering feather
Home is where the wind calls her.
‘Pray this away son’ she says
‘Least your soul burn in hell’
But mum does not know
Every day is a shade of hell.
My soul is burnt church
My body is a tomb.
And these wars in my head
How long before they win?
FAME FROM WATERS by Mesioye Johnson
When you see a man coloring his voice on a burning tongue
now lost under feet of storms like a bird without wings,
when you see a woman disown her smiles in a room
held by wailing walls rising into a home dead of honey taste,
when you see boys keeping their worries under their armpits,
checking how it smells at interval at a riverbank of their tears,
and girls finding survival in a pillar undulating under a man’s knicker,
make them a surviving story for others, think of how heavy
loss is on women who weigh absence, think of losing a dream
to nights embracing stars with claws, think of what makes a man
wish to have tides as his mother forever.
depression comes in shades:
1. forgetting one’s self in a world of sighs.
2. falling, rising, falling, falling in one’s self, and floating in dead things.
3. wishing the soul dies and the body, a corpse that breathes.
A man thought about fame, sought his heart, everywhere
and wishes to peel his name into magic of loud waves:
his body is a camp of fire and everywhere called safe,
he knows how miracle becomes a maiden name of rivers
when burning stands like the shadow of devil in places
where lost boys fuel their mothers with absence,
he remembers today’s sermon that ,“man shall not live by bread alone…”
and turned a Lagos lagoon to the mouth of God where he can feed
on life, he forgot everywhere is fiercely hungry, even waters,
so when you become a body worn in different shades
remember dreams in the throat of a river, and Orji , and how fame
comes through dissolving in water. So when everything dies, live!
FROM BLADE TO BLACK by Dhee Sylvester
I cut myself in three different places,
just to feel the taste of my own skin.
Like sand sprinkled with salt,
the gritty taste was as bitter,
as the metallic rust of my toxic blood.
Each swipe of the blade was a solemn tribute,
to a depressing sequence
of needles, pills, and booze.
Death is a whore in a gray coloured hijab;
and maybe it’s true that i act the horny arab
better than most horny arabs.
mirth is a jester’s face on the sleeves
of a bleeding wrist;
but each cut was a pleasurable thrust,
and each sprout of blood was an epiphany,
of my own melancholy.
dying but ever smiling,
i found solace in solitude,
and learnt how to laugh,
on the crossroad of two chronic hells.
notes to self by Ama Udofa
i am a fading sigh of everything i long for
nothing more than just a storeroom for broken tools and rejected toys.
i am an echo
of a lost voice crawling out from withered lips
a scream reduced to a whisper
struggling to survive outside blistered lips.
i am the faded image in a polaroid
of a starry eyed kid mouthing questions into thin air
with shards of broken mirrors
hanging from his mouth
I am mimosa learning to fold into myself,
I am a verse of dirge
chanted in defiance to the sky:
sadness is an microphone to dirges of broken souls and unwanted ghosts
tears are tributaries leading to deserted lips and blistered tongues
love is a mirage – close for you to see, too far for you to ever reach
pain is grey paint on teeth that no longer know the road to a smile…
I am a handful of dust
fighting desperately against the wind
searching for home inside weakened fists
I am a bag of unyielding bones bent by stones
and sticks and spades, yet not broken.
Slashed at by blunt knives, yet not cut open.
I am a candle fire
burning my body to stay alive
dying to give light
yet living still.
AFTERMATH by Jonathan Otamere Endurance
There is an empty music in the throat of a boy
Saying: Bawa!, Bawa!, Bawa! — his father’s name.
His voices are a bird finding its parents
In the outskirt of an abandoned war.
His breath is a tornado rocking a city
Searching water in the dryness of broken streams.
This is an aftermath of war
It tells of how a boy, say 16, is a drop of bitter wine
Trapped in the bottle of broken memories
And the crimson of roses marking his father’s grave.
How sweet is it to be a wing
Trapped in the mouth of wind
And cadaver of bodies weaving into
A casket of his beloved?
He is trying to weave his broken bones
Into the dances of intoxicated butterflies
And dust his body from the web of sour memories
Holding him to the music saying: death, death, death.
This is what memories are made of:
It is a picture of a boy whose heart
Is a map leading into dark places,
Adebayor takes over from the reigning BPPC champion, Izuchukwu Saviour Otubelu, who won the March 2017 edition, his second victory in the history of the contest. He will be awarded the top prize of N7000 cash, a certificate, and books, while.
All the poems in the TOP 10 will be automatically entered for the ALBERT JUNGERS POETRY PRIZE (AJPP) 2017 and published in the BPPC 2017 anthology. Each poet will also receive a certificate and free copies of the anthology at the Words Rhymes & Rhythm Literary Festival 2017.
“This season, more than any before it, judging the entries was a painfully sweet task because the poets evidently dug deep, producing strings of original metaphors that cannot be overlooked. It proves that the issue of mental health is one that needs to be spoken of more often, more loudly, and by more people.
Truth be told, more than 30 of the over 100 entries deserve to make the top ten list. However, like in every contest, someone must be a winner. So I say congratulations to all those that participated, especially those who made it to the winners list. — Kukogho Iruesiri Samson
The BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST (BPPC), 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 MAY 2017 edition on the theme: ‘THE 21ST CENTURY WOMAN’
CLICK HERE TO ENTER YOUR POEM
I am a member of the WRR editorial team.