Nigerian poet, Frank Eze has won the fifth edition of Words Rhymes & Rhythm’s Eriata Oribhbabor Poetry Prize (EOPP 2016) with his entry ‘Porcelain Plates’.
Eze, a poet resident of Ibadan, Nigeria, was shortlisted for the 2016 edition of Korea-Nigeria Poetry Prize. His poems have been published on Storried, COAL, WritiVision, Praxis and other online journals.
Madu Chisom Kingdavid’s ‘Where We Were Born’ and Famuwagun Festus’ ‘House of Noisemakers’ won the first and second runner-up positions respectively.
Eze will be awarded a ₦50,000 cash prize and one copy each of Crossroads & The Rubicon and Beautiful Poison, while Madu and Famuwagun will receive ₦20,000 and ₦10,000 respectively, at the WRR Literary Festival holding at the University of Ibadan on the 3rd of December 2016.
Chair of the judging panel, Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom, while commenting on the results described the winning poem as “being metaphorically poignant and thematically adept.”
“It was a daunting task selecting just 3 poems out of about 400 wonderful entries, especially as the poems addressed salient and proximal issues,” he said.
Below are the winning entries:
1st Position – the porcelain plates by Frank Eze
two porcelain plates
fell from a tall table
each one broke into
two hundred and fifty
like miniature mirrors,
reflecting the rising sun
fragments of the first plate
saw themselves unique—
beautiful in their broken
states, and so steered onto
paths of prodigal princes
who wandered away
with the setting sun
fragments of the second plate
clung to each other like
the northern and southern
poles of two magnets;
their faults featuring like
in ancient walls fated to fall;
but time, the gray-haired healer
filled each fault with its
milky mortar, birthing
a perfect porcelain plate
sunset, and a wild wind came
like a hungry hawk,
sweeping all fragments of
the first plate—dukedoms,
like chaffs into the sea;
while fragments of
the second plate—a kingdom
united in diversity, stood strong
and waxed weathertight like
a castle carved from a rock
2nd Position – WHERE WE WERE BORN by Madu Chisom Kingdavid
Still a clayey Canaan on the claws of crossroads,
Housing the broken thorns of the forest,
Long imprisoned in the prison of penury
Under the rusted roofs of a shattered sky.
There are stretched marks of drought
Hanging on the lame laughter of
Fleshless faces sprawling like a snail
Without shell on our portholed roads
Pregnant with rains and abandoned corpses.
Our neighbours’ children are dreams
Aborted from the womb of tomorrow.
For they sell their God’s temples to wealthy
Don Juans and Gomers. They also play
Prodigal on Cards and Nairabet, drink
And smoke their lives into unripe funerals.
Here, some women are vandalized villages,
Hiding their tears and fears in the laments
Of bombs, holding cobwebbed portraits
Of their displaced kinsmen and missing girls,
Fetching fortitude from the gory images
Of their bombed husbands and soldiers,
Breaking the breast of midnight with long
Groans and tears that will never run dry.
Nights, we hear the dumb moans of bleeding
Hymens in isolated houses and brothels.
The cold cries of bare babies by the
Roadsides whose Mothers were RIP-ed
By bullets of the highway robbers.
Listen, there were loud silences that
Drowned jobless poets in this house
Of hunger whose haunting tropes were
The Millions stifled by the Breath of Fresh Air.
Today, their verses weep for Change
Snailing into chameleon of moonlight tales.
We’re back nude, full of skeletons and storms.
O! The world is now a sleepless night
Carrying the hearts of Jezebel and Alexander.
From chaos-torn Middle East to
America where we dodged bullets
In the streets, houses and churches.
From the sunset living in Latin America
To the dying by firing squad in (Indone)asia…
O! We’re back to where we sprang from the
Coffin of dearth bearing the scars of death.
To fetch water again from taps lying in state.
To watch countless children return shoelessly
From a distant school under a shrivelled tree…
To wake up in mornings from sweaty
Dryness of overcrowded floors, bearing
Tattoos of blood and pain sketched by
Mosquitoes, bedbugs, witches and wizards.
To watch our shacks with watery eyes steal
Away by flood and swallow by eroded earth.
To listen to the dumb roars of growing bellies
Of children licking phlegm in their fathers’ frail arms.
To breathe the sweet scent of gutters,
Garbage-dumps, oil spillages, bomb blasts,
Faeces-filled swamps, crude flare…
Peeling the echoing walls of our systems.
To listen to the threnodies of the ghosts
Of our shamed-pasts and present over
The fat Yams eaten and barfed by
Potbellied goats in the cleavages of power.
To pray and count bead of tears all night,
That “Let there be night forever”,
For here tomorrow is always a raped virgin.
Though we’ve long been in this labour
Of pain and the delivery seems forever…
Someday, the sun shall rise from the
hidden loins of a barren cloud,
Lights shall sprout from the mass
vault of our skeletal pasts…
And new rain fraught with renascent
Songs shall break from our parched
Throats in triumph over our ageless undergrowths.
3rd Position – HOUSE OF NOISE MAKERS by Famuwagun Festus
What can be terribly annoying?
A gathering of emissaries,
Assembled for the welfare of the people,
In an Hobbesian jostle for the gavel
What can be ludicrously scandalous?
A noisy session of policy makers
With hit-and-miss strategies
Leaving the masses with hobson’s choice
For four bounty seasons, one harvested famishing 77 fruits
Within ten minutes, the same reaped a laughable 46 fruits
Another has been in the vineyard for a long time now
Yet, no fruit to show forth
A house disorderly
Not devoid of furious fist,
Hot, selfish confrontations
A brawling arena for official rogue
A floor of wastrels
Haven for poachers of public possession
Who earn elephant wages
But delivers not much output than an ant could bear
They adorn the image of worthy servants
Guard themselves with armour of civil defenders
But are clad in robe of corruption and
Tie wrapper of moral putrescence
The peak of misrepresentation
The height of irresponsibility
The zenith of disappointment
The house of noisemakers
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.
I am a member of the WRR editorial team.