Udokamma Ben Wilfred is the winner of the September edition of the BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST (BPPC) 2017 themed: ‘WHAT LIES BEYOND THE SILENT NIGHT’.
Wilfred, a student of Economics at the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) won the contest, the last edition for 2017, with a technically and visually superior poem entitled ‘The Night Before We Die’.
Ayeyemi Taofeek Kehinde’s ‘A Pouch Of Tongueless Secret’ emerged first runner-up while ‘Note Of Tears’ by Ojo Adewale Iyanda finished in the second-runner-up position.
Though this is Wilfred’s first BPPC victory, he has finished in the top 10 several times in the past. He came 4th in August 2016, 3rd in June 2016 and 8th in May 2016, earning himself 3 poems slots in the 2016 BPPC anthology ‘Loops of Hope’ and a chance to win the 2016 Albert Jungers Poetry Prize (AJPP).
Below are the top 10 poems:
- THE NIGHT BEFORE WE DIE by Udokamma Wilfred
- A POUCH OF TONGUELESS SECRET by Ayeyemi Taofeek Kehinde
- NOTE OF TEARS by Ojo Adewale Iyanda
- BEYOND THE SILENT NIGHT by Okeme James Jerome
- TEMPEST by Aremu Adams Adebisi
- WHAT LIES BEYOND THE SILENT NIGHT by Olufunmilola Olubunmi Adeniran
- WHAT LIES BEYOND THE SILENT NIGHT by Alfred Marshal Offei
- BEYOND THE SILENT NIGHT by Iliya Kambai Dennis
- NOT THE END by Olaitan Bernice Adejumoke
- WALK WITH ME by Theophilus ‘Femi Alawonde
THE NIGHT BEFORE WE DIE by Udokamma Wilfred
The night is a barricade built with the vigour of silence
Shielding the truth about the break of dawn
What does it ultimately hold, beauty or violence?
What is that about darkness before a light is born?
Maybe the stars are bright with answers
But even the light focuses falsehood, sometimes
I’ve seen promises levitate to the height of power
Only to explode into stardusts with the bang of a landmine.
Tell the moon and the sun they’ll both get a chance to shine
That Ego lurks behind that little hurdle which causes a fall
Why the constant fight over a spot on a broad line,
When we can all stand and rebuild our broken walls?
See how quick we misplace the lessons taught by history
And adopt the lies the night carries in whispers
The future is not how to spell a mystery
But the stars and the moon shine the same light when they both glitter.
Gather the chirps of crickets, maybe you’ll find some truths
Maybe the total darkness is how the earth speaks of war
If unity is how we stand, we must find our roots
If we employ the machete, our harvest may turn an ethnic gore.
Maybe there’s no god, or the god is dawn
Maybe what lies beyond this silent night is death
Maybe we’ll all fall and turn crimson, or like rain on a lawn
Maybe we’ll bring morning to surface at the expense of our last breath.
A POUCH OF TONGUELESS SECRET by Ayeyemi Taofeek
We’ve thrown on our backs days and nights –
Wet and dry like hay.
But we are like the bulbs of flashlights
That can never see beyond today.
And nights are the hinges of a locked gate,
Not an inch of tomorrow can they skate.
Nights are curtains between now and morrow;
Deep, thick, and display no scene.
It’s the earth’s bowel where a zillion dreams burrow,
Yet, not a scene of them is seen.
For night is a gourd of atomic solution;
Silent, but could be weird at detonation.
The swinging scrotum of a ram
Is the fate that lies beyond the silent night;
A swift-moving pendulum,
Bringing to the back darkness and taking forth light.
And we lay our heads like eggs on the hand
Of death, moved (some unreturned) to the dreamland.
What lies beyond the silent night
Than the pouch of tongueless secret –
Pregnant with fear, hope, darkness and light,
Not even the star gazers can see it.
For we are not only pencils in the hand of the Divine,
We’re also what He writes and what He writes upon.
NOTE OF TEARS by Ojo Adewale Iyanda
I’m writing a note of tears for sun(s) that journeyed
From the shore of silent nights
To the theater of lonely night- grave.
This note of tears is the struggle of a woman
Seared in the flames of withering injustice
Whose breath is to carve the channel of freedom
For sun(s) whose hope is alive in death.
This note of tears is for Halima, who was alive
Until her sun was hid in the soul of silence.
She was forced to learn how to sing in moans
Sacrilegious songs that stole her voice.
This note of tears is for Alake’s prime heel that was bruised
By a cruel crawling creature with nine ribs.
Her memory was painted with this ruptured truth:
“God himself is a man”, and she lost her worth.
This note of tears is for those who were sung as nursery rhyme
The sun(s) who has left and gone to the grave
The silence tree was planted over them at night
They went to heaven via the shadow of loneliness.
This is a pinch from my note of tears
To reveal what lies beyond the silent night.
Many live with cacophonies in the library of their soul, with
None to read meaning to silence from the noise of their night.
Note of tears is the lamentations that comes
From the sun(s) buried in lonely night, via the shore of silent nights.
For I am their voice, I speak in their tongue.
BEYOND THE SILENT NIGHT by Okeme James Jerome
Many have roamed in the darkest path of pain
With the hope of gazing upon a flickering light;
And lingered in the tunnel of a promise so bright
Only to realize that that light was an incoming train.
They were pierced to the bone like with many arrows
With blows from the hands that promised something sweet.
Their hearts were flooded with many sorrows
But they danced in the rain to hide their tears in it.
They wore smiling masks
Like a fixed portray smile.
They clapped with blistered hands
And quenched their thirst with their very own tears
What lies beyond the silent night
If not rays from a smiling light.
What lies beyond a desired plight
If not attaining a dreamt height.
The louder the silence became
The thicker the darkness became.
What lies beyond the silent night
If not rays from a smiling light.
TEMPEST by Aremu Adams Adebisi
When night ensnares her subtle plows upon the rousted heads
and shadows fleeting to and fro assume conflicting dreads,
then silence runs and blares among the piercing squeals and shrills
that fetter inconceivably and send down shivering chills…
when boding stars refute the palms with sepia-lining gaze
and looking moons in transience of the coming of grim days,
while rivers flow in bellied streams that lap at songs of gloom
along the terrain of the sky are night wings reeling doom…
when cauldrons fill the fate of men like cluttered woven mesh
and souls a tale of glowing bones decaying in the flesh;
nightmares are logs on heathen hearths that burn without a flame,
each seam of morning’s golden fleece is stitched without a name…
when echoes ring from ears to ears like wraiths across a blade
and cast upon a crumbly wall a long, hard, blinded shade,
and wind bemoans in suppressed whoosh of graves with finely breath
among today’s— tomorrow’s men, oblivious of the death.
when essence sleeps in melody that strikes in chords of moans
and holiness is nothing but a farce that drags on groans,
stick little truth to truism for life is overused
and every ethic eating deep is knowledge newly fused.
When night bears down her chilliness I’ll plead my precious case;
that righteousness to fellowmen and goodness to the race,
perhaps to dawn my abode calls— to intransigent bliss
and free from chills and gritting teeth that bind a man to hiss.
WHAT LIES BEYOND THE SILENT NIGHT by Olufunmilola Olubunmi Adeniran
You know, I dont, what lies beyond
You’ve seen, I’ve not, what’s true
You were, I am, right here on earth
You sleep, I live, for now
I feel, You don’t, the sun and rain
I run, you rest, we act
I taste, you may recall the tastes
I sing, you hear, the songs.
You danced, a time ago and now
I dance for you and I
You loved, I love, and still I love
You feared, my fear, of death
I loathe, You wear, the cloak of night
I worry, You wonder, why?
I aspire, You pursued, life’s endless trap
I breathe, you’ve ceased, all life
You’re stuck beyond the realm I know
You’ve seen both sides of time
You try, I believe, to tell me true
You’re there, I’m here, you can’t
I’ll wonder, you know, if life goes on
I’ve read, we’ll live again
I’ve heard, we rot right where we’re lain
Or wait the trumpet’s call
You’re certain, what lies beyond the night
What happens when we die
You’re sure, I only speculate
Who knows, We dont, You do.
WHAT LIES BEYOND THE SILENT NIGHT by Alfred Marshal Offei
I do not know what lies beyond
The silent night of lonely heights
For I have never dared to travel
Down the borderline of distant Islands
Where peace like a river will attend to my soul.
What I solemnly do know
As the Knight of the Black Star
Is the hope that lies before the hills of my bright path.
Though I may fall to my knees
The ground will never kiss my back
For I shall rise daily, looking onward
Through the ethereal blueprints of my thoughts
Fighting fearlessly like the Odysseus warrior
On this battlefield of life’s adventure.
The sacred sword shall become
Our creed of Powerful words
Cutting through thick bars of iron
And inspiring generations yet unborn.
Then at last, we will gladly lie
In the pantheon of those Legends gone ahead of us
Knowing deeply that what lies beyond the silent night
Is the evergreen fragrance of the eternal principles
Of Love, Beauty and Justice.
BEYOND THE SILENT NIGHT by Iliya Kambai Dennis
There is home for dead petals after a full yellow sun,
Where faces of corpses are not tired of walking or working.
An endless day of light, without a full or half yellow sun.
Home of angelic pasta, that satisfy our earthly hunger
Fill with dead petals brought back alive with immortality.
Home of angelic voices, echoing the walls of its world.
There is home for broken pearls In transition of after-life,
After an endless night sleep, we won’t see the death of a full moon.
This unfading beauty that prevails our eyes With cluster of flying stars.
This is a place, Where, children become their father’s parents;
And parents becoming their children’s offspring isn’t abomination.
Like a man walking with a third leg would ask,
How long beyond the silent night would I see this impeccable light?
This I will tell my father In his sleep beyond the walls;
Calm yourself like the fireworks of Gandalf and sleep long,
I assure you of beautiful thorns along the path but,
Because I can do it, you can do it.
And to my mother I’d say, take me back to thy womb
Reborn In me the chanted fire of the chariot of fire to walk
Never to stumble, fumble or fall.
Yes, beyond the silent night, lies a light I long to see.
But they said I can ‘t see this light until I romance
The thighs of death, Kiss her lips, wear her garment,
That until I smooch her breasts, sleep with her
In her endless night, beyond the silent night
Will only be a stillborn shadow.
NOT THE END by Olaitan Bernice Adejumoke
are you an end
or a pole holding two ends?
I ponder over this little dearth
of thought that keeps you thinking too.
We sing tears of end from our tearing end
of shattered dreams and bones scattered on streets
clothed with ashes of burnt memories,
at sleep forgetful of dawn
raiding innocency with dryness in the valley of shadows…
dark mornings, silent nights….
A voice unheard that groans and whispers
beneath the intense rivers of thought
cut off from its bank,
and rides the soul into stark muteness.
Death…if you were end,
would haste hasten your feet
to the race you must but run
leaving us with imprint of path trodden?
In between your thighs lies uncertainty with the certainty that darkness buries itself
into the pools of the night
for a long swim to awakens brightness
into a NEW MORNING.
WALK WITH ME by Theophilus ‘Femi Alawonde
let’s go together
on this last walk
the beginning of another journey
give me your palm
that i have always wanted
and let’s walk, eyes closed
into what awaits us
beneath the river
for the fear of the unknown
is nothing but fear itself
so let us go find for ourselves
of what we always hear
disjointed information and misinformation
it has always been your joy to explore with me
let this be no different
as we close our eyelids
and spread our lips
in this death.
Wilfred will be awarded a N7000 cash prize, a certificate, and books. All the poems that made the top 10 shortlist 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.
NOTE: The Season III of the BPPC will commence in February 2018.
I am a member of the WRR editorial team.