Otubelu Chinazom Chukwudi, a Nigerian poet from Isiekwulu Village, Ukpo, Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra State, has won the May edition of the BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST (BPPC) 2017 themed: ‘LIFE IS FOR THE LIVING‘.
Chuwudi’s poem ‘MIDNIGHT MORNING’ beat ‘A rose on the railway’ by Felix Kalu and ‘LUMINARY’ by Emecheta Christian to second and third runner-up positions respectively. This is his second BPPC trophy, having won May 2016 edition of the contest. He also clinched two 1st runner-up positions — September 2016 and February 2017 editions, and a 3rd runner-up position in the March 2017 edition.
Chukwudi studies Electrical/Electronic Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO)where he has received many recognitions for his writings. In 2011, he won the FUTO WRITERS’ AWARD and in the following year was named on the ten-man shortlist for the INSPIRING BRILLIANCE POETRY AWARD . In 2013, his poem was accepted as a winning entry for the maiden edition of the KOLA MAGAZINE AWARD. He was also a finalist in the 2016 Albert Jungers Poetry Prize.
Below are the top 10 poems:
- MIDNIGHT MORNING by Chinazom Chukwudi Otubelu
- A rose on the railway by Felix Kalu
- LUMINARY by Emecheta Christian
- Life is for the Living by Obimba Chukwuma Samson
- My Metamorphosis by Akor Agada Nathaniel
- Apocalypse 2 by Kolade Seun
- TO LIVE IS TO DIE by Jamiu Ahmed Adewale
- CARTOGRAPHER by Agbaakin O. Jeremiah
- Living or leaving by Elemide Benjamin
- THE OL’ MAN WHO DIED YOUNG by Ogwiji Ehi-kowochio Blessing
MIDNIGHT MORNING by Chinazom Chukwudi Otubelu
Death dances slowly to the loud drums of mental slavery
Eating deep into my sick skull that wears a mad man’s smile
Life’s gramophone keeps screaming that six-pack’s is not bravery
And I must lead my frozen feet to stardom for a while
I can feel my heartbeat stringing strands of a broken sky
To tame that tricky tortoise twisting my sodden soul
The waxing star no more fits the wondrous gaze of my eye;
Its light must have drunk dryness like washed clothes on a pole
Ancestral caves crave me to cast my tent on wisdom’s grave;
The teachings of Socrates lie therein like a bold birthmark,
Forging metal blades from the solemn nakedness of a slave
And tears shall no more flow from the lashes of a gentle lark
I shall wait not for dawn to call early at my door
Before I fall into flames where living souls burrow
And death shall be lost like pungent stains on a black floor
Whilst time shall be a tailor of morrow’s worn-out hollow
The mountains echo songs of my newfound name;
The new moon makes jest of the flattened chest of the sun
Life is for the swiftest horses whose hooves shall grow not lame
For the race has long begun; my feet shall rise and run
Home hums softly within the walls of my heart
How great thy love that even gods fail to comprehend
I hail thee for thy cold clouds that thunder like a dragon’s fart
And may thy pleasing face kiss my lips till the world’s end
Every man wields a sword to sever flashes of mourning,
While troubled tummies swell with the yell of a coming
Indeed! The times are mere mysteries of a midnight morning
A ROSE ON THE RAILWAY by Felix Kalu
Sprouting amidst steel and stones,
this is a gory place
yet this rose came in wondrous procession,
there was fine purple, coral and crimson in her carriage,
spreading and settling
bleeding beauty from every pore,
ringing patters, the footstep of a queen.
I feared that a train will pass tomorrow,
this carnival will be a short tragedy,
ought it not to have stood with one leg?
When the train came and crushed the rose,
its roots stayed and the petals flapped all over,
I saw two petals follow the train away from my sight;
As The Rose lay beautifully dead,
her sunshine scattered and extended to far places,
That is how to die a big death
tiny deaths are bad,
the struggle to grow amidst steel and stone must not waste in a day.
The size of life is in the marks not in the days.
That is why a rose holds back nothing.
LUMINARY by Emecheta Christian
If life is a strong steed
I will be that horseman who rides it to war
For as long as we are unison in speed
Our enemies will all be crushed to the floor.
If life is a burning forest
I will be the air that fans its ember
For as long as we burn without rest
Our impact, the wild will never forget to remember.
If life is a mighty Eagle
I will be those distinct set of eyes that makes it special
For as long as we dominate without struggle
Our fame will spread globally without a commercial.
If life is a raging thunder storm
I will be its numerous twists and turns
For as long as we steer without pattern and form
Our progress can never be pricked by angry thorns.
But since life is what it is
And I, a mortal man in search of reason and purpose,
I have sworn to always give life that warm tender kiss
And continue living my best until the day I repose.
LIFE IS FOR THE LIVING by Obimba Chukwuma Samson
Life consists in participation and spectation.
I indulge in both for my perfection.
In a life-long enterprise of self-actualization,
I am undaunted by the many a senseless limitation
Created by many a cultural contraption.
By the light of knowledge and fearlessness,
I explore life’s gray areas and recesses.
There might be some greenness hidden in the grayness.
Call it extraneous expedition, excessiveness,
I call it part of living life in its fullness.
Every mountain, I am ready to climb.
I am poised to cross every river in my path anytime.
I will traverse every region and clime,
And engage my vocation, and every pastime
Till I find my dream in this lifetime.
When childhood is the most curious time in life and simplest,
And adolescence is indulged in exuberant zest;
When of success adulthood rides on the crest,
And culminates in rest from every quest,
Then, life would have been lived to the fullest.
In the grave where the body is perpetually still and static
I cannot dance in the sun and frolic
To the lyrics of this life and music.
Life should be an epic story not just a fleeting statistic.
Life is for the living; yes, it is indeed for the quick.
MY METAMORPHOSIS by Akor Agada Nathaniel
My nightmares could not go away
I was scared of dying everyday
Because the perilous pang of yesterday
Hunted me like a prey
The desire to die another day
Metamorphosed into a shade of grey
Like the black sheep which went astray
I was completely lost in life’s alley
My cry was too far from the sky
I could see gravity fly as my world went by
Making every ocean of hope dry
Then from within I heard “why not try”
You must touch lives before you die
Inside of me scriptures came to life
Urging me to prophesy upon my life
Like Ezekiel I did prophesy
Proclaiming like David “I shall not die”
Redemption came from on high
Escaping my lips with a glorious sigh
I saw stars embracing the whole sky
As the beauty of a buzzing butterfly
Like Lazarus I came back to life
Against all odd I survived the knife
I metamorphosed from a dead lion
To a living dog
Delivered by the Superman from Zion
I’m fully alive no longer a log
APOCALYPSE 2 by Kolade Seun
I see the events on earth
From the golden grave
Where men rest their eyes behind their lids,
Where men rest their tongues behind their mouth,
Where men rest their brain behind their skull,
Where men rest their noise behind their silence.
The creeping birds
Are no longer for the nights alone.
Their sonorous voices blow the speaker of silence.
As men rest their backs beneath the earth,
The wild became the civilised.
The water in the cloud comes down
To house the body of the hidden fishes.
Scents from artificial flowers are the only pollution.
Not the smoke from war,
Nor the smoke of worn out silencers.
The families are extendedly nuclear.
This is the world
As we stay behind
Our golden graves,
Where ants match past
Our bald heads.
TO LIVE IS TO DIE by Jamiu Ahmed Adewale
In between the walls of foggy dreams,I sat.
Bound by the restraining shackles from west,
Time stood still,compromising fate and destiny,
She sighed,looking via my mirror of broken days,
The road to my paunch is the only road to heaven.
Mother,”I’m breaking out of this cage of gory doom”,
Life isn’t for the coward with fears of gripping death,
So the ransom to live fully alive is to be willing to die,
For death is a shadow that walk through life with us.
Mother,”I know where Chaffy golds burn in fire”,
To get one is to pass through the blasting hell,
Where I will dance to the rhythm of a raving surge,
Cremated alive with my dreams feeling guilt of it,
And my ashes will be refine into a powdery gold.
Mother,”I know where ardors are buried with corpse”,
Cemeteries are the most richest grounds on earth,
Because men died with their passion crying for them,
For they refuse to let their dreams come alive in time,
Mother don’t cry,I have chosen this route of freedom,
Liberty to live,life fulfilment; are man’s greatest wealth,
If I die fighting for freedom,my soul shall not be buried
among the cold souls, who knows no victory nor failure,
For to live fully is to be willing to die for what you want.
CARTOGRAPHER by Agbaakin O. Jeremiah
“she tells me of the hole her mother gave her as a gift” Gbenga Adesina-Multittude Child
my mother is a cartographer.
she plotted a map of fear boldly
and says: here, do not fly out of here.
all day we roost in the shade of her wing.
the rite begins with a big scowl
penciled across her face like a kohl
when maiden mules mute to all meanings
crawl towards a vibrant star circling
a candle wick in the dark corridor,
like the three magi being led to Christ.
with a slap on our wrist
she’d wriggle us from the dreams of fire-
of duel with ancestral foes, living in her superstition: dragons, et al.
& of stitching desires from distance to distance
under a stretch of the silky sky.
i did not know what changed
but i swear our plosive bodies desired
the vowel fire stuck in the windpipe.
but mother says our kind is ever stressed already
before we flap our wings into declaration: of flight.
Darwin swore we’re so close to animals we could be wild.
philosphy interjected— to second-guess the self
till we become still as stones.
religion said there is one God (though each had its)
so we became pious serving nothing.
law said: be servile. we became people of the ass
that a few rides into resurrection.
LIVING OR LEAVING by Elemide Benjamin
Someone knocks; your heart is a room of many things:
you cannot open because it is littered with shadows,
and your excuse is doubt for reality of broken dreams.
The table is dusty with plans.
Eighth wonder of the world seats imaginary
on an expanse of thought; your excuse is time,
it grow wings before you grow a step.
Ideas glow in your eyeballs, they are meant to
show the world out of the dungeon of darkness,
but no one knows freedom in your name.
Your excuse is the horizon, it isn’t wide enough
to rainbow fading lives with beauty.
You don’t allow planting in your heart;
you’re afraid of becoming possessed by others.
The girl you allowed to plant love
left because you are unfavourable, unyielding,
and the seedling was choked by hate,
for love is what makes things bloom.
The only memory hanging on the wall is your birth,
but it seems the knocker is with casket frame
to hang you as another memory on the wall of time.
The knock woke you into reality, you never truly live.
You look back for a last glance, like Lot’s wife,
you became a pillar of regrets.
You reach for the knob, you realize it was death.
You stopped living, you started leaving,
and I’m here to help you pack. Hurry.
THE OL’ MAN WHO DIED YOUNG by Ogwiji Ehi-kowochio Blessing
Last night, I was scribbling-
strolling my muse down a lone paper,
when I heard Death’s sour quibbling,
as she stood in the street corners of life:
staring in blatant disgust and wondering,
why breath lingers in dead nostrils
whose nose perceive none of life’s thrills
My muse towed my soul to the edge of life’s cliff
where I saw the lonely monument of an oldie
telling a story in its engraved words: “Pa Eddie:
The ol’ man who died young”
Once, he was a lucky lanky lad
who saw himself morph into a cranky old man
that never learnt, that life’s like cold water
on hot coals, twill heat up and someday boil
In failing and falling oft, boiled his life,
till he fell in love with his trough
leaving his life on the bare thighs of fate
hoping that it suckles fortune from her nips
Daily, his heart did beat, but like a talking drum
plagued with a terrible case of dumbness,
no thirsty ear sipped its rhythmic sweetness.
A mess of loads (of anger) and (sad) efforts he was, no fulcrum!
He lost his grip on life, existence dragged him to old age
and when death met him; he was more of grain than chaff
for the winnowing winds of life lost his address, long ago
As the new reigning BPPC champion, Chinazom will be awarded 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.
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.