Ajise Vincent, a Nigerian poet, has emerged winner of the fourth edition of the annual ERIATA ORIBHABOR POETRY PRIZE (EOPP). He goes home with the top prize, a full Book Publishing Scholarship with Something for Everybody Ventures (SFEV).
Several poets from all over the world had entered the contest with poems on the sub-themes of: Unity, Truth, Justice, Change and Sustainable Development in society. An all-female panel of judges chose Ajise’s poem entitled ‘WE III’ as the best from the hundreds of entries.
Ajise, a prolific poet, has been published on several platforms, including the London grip magazine, Kalahari Review, Sakonfa literary magazine, African Writer, Indian periodical, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Afrikana ng, Poetry Pacific, Commonline Journal, Novel Afrique, Black Boy Review, Tuck Magazine and various anthologies. His poem, “Song of a Progeny”, was shortlisted at the Korea-Nigeria Poetry feast, 2015. Ajise is currently finishing up a major in Economics at the University.
Coming closely behind the winning entry ‘WE III’ as the 1st Runner-Up is ‘BRING BACK OUR GIRLS’ by Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya, followed by ‘TWO-FIFTY SHADES OF GREEN’ by Chidubem Joseph Njoku as the 2nd Runner-Up.
Below is Ajise’s winning entry:
‘WE III’ by Olajide Vincent Ajise
The contours on our faces
are not dimples associated with smiles,
neither are they tribal-marks of yore.
They are autographs of woes etched by sufferance.
The tattoos on our conscience
are not emblems of remembrance,
neither are they boulevards that beautify our esteems.
They are scars inflicted on us by fate.
The blisters on our aspirations
are not lumps of buoyancy
neither are they bulges of boons.
They are clots concocted by platelets of propagandas.
We’ve tilled the earth,
rummaged around heaven’s vault,
seeking for the primordia of our glory.
Lo! All has been in vain.
But despite all travails,
we are optimistic to survivance,
for soon, we will hear tunes of blessings
blaring forth from the larynx of our grace.
it will pass.
The other seven poems which made it to the top 10:
- NAIJA MY NAIJA by Emebiriodo Ugochukwu
- THERE WAS A WAR by Michael A. Olajubu
- SILENCE IS VIOLENCE by Chime Justis Ndubuisi
- AT THE COALFACE by Benibo Eden
- DREADED by Akpa Chigozie
- THE SORE INWARDS by Mesioye Johnson
- HER FREE CAR by Akinbode Oluwatobi Israel
A further five poems made it to this year’s sponsor’s list. They are:
- THE TALE OF TWO BIRDS by Name: Aremu Adams Adebisi
- BURNING WATERS by Onwuasoanya Chika
- RISE FROM THIS OSSUARY by Akpa Chigozie
- IGBAKHUAN by Lato Dennis jr
- FLOW BLOOD, FLOW by Benson David
The EOPP was instituted in 2012 to give the much needed attention to Nigerian poetry and encourage young Nigerian poets to use poetry as a tool for social change.
Ajise joins Nwakanma Chika (2012), Madu Chisom Kingdavid (2013) and Darlington Ekene Ogugua (2014) on the prestigious list of past winners of the four-year-old poetry contest which has awarded over N150, 000 in prize money to nine (9) poets so far.
In the past editions, a cash award was given to authors of the top three poems. But, beginning with the 2015 edition, the reward system was changed to make it bigger and more impactful – one poet would emerge winner of a full publishing contract while other finalists would be rewarded with consolation prizes.
The ERIATA ORIBHABOR POETRY PRIZE is sponsored by Sir Eriata Oribhabor, a celebrated Nigerian promoter of Naija Languej, poetry and photography, who has severally advocated for the need to reward young Nigerian poets based on his belief that poetry and the arts are agents of social change that must be routinely encouraged.