BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST 2017: OAU POET, EMMANUEL FAITH, WINS FEBRUARY EDITION

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EMMANUEL FAITH, an Economics student at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, is the winner of the March 2017 edition of the monthly Words Rhymes & Rhythm backed Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest (BPPC).

Emmanuel, who loves reading and writing, emerged winner of the keenly contested edition with a probing poem entitled ‘CAN WE BE EQUAL?’ His poem beat ‘AND DEATH SHALL BE FAR FROM YOU’ by Otubelu, Chinazom Chukwudi and ‘THE ORIGIN OF BIAS’ by Agbaakin O. Jeremiah to first and second runner-up positions respectively.

EMMANUEL FAITH, winner of the monthly BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST 2017 (FEBRUARY)

EMMANUEL FAITH, winner of the monthly BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST 2017 (FEBRUARY)

Though more inclined towards poetry, Emmanuel is a multi-genre writer. He is member of his department’s press unit and his writings have been published on different platforms including anthologies, magazines, journals, and websites. He believes that “the world was made with words and can be made better with words.”

Emmanuel has never won the BPPC since it began in February 2015, but he has made the top 10 in several editions, including 3rd (April 2016), 4th (February 2016), and 5th in June 2016.
The BPPC 2017 February theme was “GENDER EQUALITY.”

Below are the TOP TEN poems:

  1. CAN WE BE EQUAL? by Emmanuel Faith
  2. AND DEATH SHALL BE FAR FROM YOU by Otubelu, Chinazom Chukwudi
  3. THE ORIGIN OF BIAS by Agbaakin O. Jeremiah
  4. MY DAUGHTER IS A WOMAN by Izuchukwu Saviour Otubelu
  5. LESSONS FROM CONSTELLATIONS by Elemide Benjamin Odunayo
  6. A SONG IN TONGUES OF FOUR WOMEN by Adebayo Kolawole Samuel
  7. A WOMAN’S PLACE by Ogedengbe Tolulope Ayobami
  8. A LETTER TO MAMA by Nome Emeka Patrick
  9. THE FOURTH DAUGHTER’S ELEGY by Laolu Poe Alani
  10. GENDER RAPE by Anointed Olumuyiwa

CAN WE BE EQUAL? by Emmanuel Faith 

Can she spill sparky sperm in billions?
Or make semen march in millions?
Can his zest zap zygote till foetus?
Bouncing boy with boisterous features?

Can he feed with teats and udder?
Can they swap role of each other
Can he alter her synthesis?
To fit into his quotidian praxis?

Can we cut short assiduous assault?
Molestation in meagre and mammoth
Can we give her a voice, the voiceless?
Can she be ferociously fearless?

Can we halt heinous hegemony?
Of patriotic patriarchal ruining matrimony
Can she use the skills in the kitchen?
To impact, impart and flourish in teaching

Can the pillar of the home
Who curbs dangerous daggers that roam?
Be given a space in the state
To wipe off machos’ and such slate

Can Eve’s dazzling dauntless daughters
Be let loose like running waters
That flourishes trees by the rivers
And calm His fears, when he shivers

Can Equality equate equity?
Or entities have an identity?
Can we be equal?

AND DEATH SHALL BE FAR FROM YOU by Otubelu, Chinazom Chukwudi

Weep not, child, for the gods have woken from the laps of harlots
Those sagging breasts on thy chest shall smile again in the rain,
When the scorching sun breathes life to torn tongues of dying starlets
Upon blood-stained hills that glitter like a rainbow that was slain

Arouse that creeping serpent that crawls unseen in thy sleep
Shatter screens and roofs and doors, let the world know no peace
Tell man and his train that gender slavery is not skin-deep
They may call you a rib, but do not stop to strip the sheep’s fleece

Time is but a prancing toddler dancing naked in the dust
Take its outstretched arm and be not enslaved to thy facial care
Let the broken bones of thy breasts strike against the metal rust;
That greedy rust that peels thy heels like yam tubers that goats tear

Do not ask for my name, cos I am as ageless as the cloud
That hangs limp and useless in the sky, yet praying with dumb lips
Woe is she whose hairs grow grey like antique drums that chant aloud
To deaf ears that hear only the curvy sounds of women’s hips

Dawn will be born soon out of the mild hands of morrow’s midwives
And death shall be far from the wizened flesh of thy fainting feet
Twilight may rave like brave birds that pecked the swayed blades of sharp knives,
Yet your songs shall emasculate the beast that dwells in man’s street

My soul is chained, but I see light from the bend of yonder way;
I see stones coming with drumming to build thy cars a garage
I shall say no more, lest the winds should blow my weak voice away,
But that furious, flowing river must never be a mirage

My brave, young daughter, kings’ harps shall play non-stop at thy return
The stars shall yell and dance, and that stinging smoke shall cease to choke
Things shall fall apart again and death shall be far from thy grave!

THE ORIGIN OF BIAS by Agbaakin O. Jeremiah

i.
mother sits by the orange ember
of an abandoned firewood,
and recounts the history behind her scars.

ii.
she said God is a crazy alchemist
in the dark laboratory of Eden
when He carried out nuclear fission
inside our father’s body;
made lust a lower isotope and called her woman.

iii.
said our mouth is stuffed with used excuse
when the gods that dismembered Adam
later instructed us to arrange the splinters
into an equal calcium and single love.

iv.
said when Eve bought the serpent’s half-truth
and ate the fruit to tower above God in wit.
the gods deprived us of lust’s lactose
and we became too weak to treat darkness
as an equal of the muscular day.

v.
said: they were never one
that when the serpent teased Eve
under a solitary tree;
where was our father?

vi.
so my mother spends the remaining night
in the fists of grief;
she would curse the Y-chromosome
God tucked in the alphabet of her skin
on creation night:
she’d count the scars growing on her skin
before she finally offered a fruit to her lord.

MY DAUGHTER IS A WOMAN by Izuchukwu Saviour Otubelu

Mother,
I sit by the fireplace to gaze at the moon and stars
For men have dug their teeth into my bruised, battered bones
I have emptied my dreams into leaking water jars
What dutiful wife sits upon her husband’s throne?

My daughter,
Do not enslave your thoughts to the ashes of yesterday
You are the living voice of the late Maya
Do not build your hopes with sand and mud and clay
You are a daughter, a maiden, a bride, a mother

But mother,
Men have wiped off their sweat against my infant skirt
They have buried their gloom in the shadows of my pain
Where is my breastmilk that watered the dead desert?
I am a cloudless sky that searches for rain

Dear daughter,
You are the neck that hangs on a noose in wondrous wonder
Above the head; you are a darkness that illuminates light
You are a slave-girl that lays down the law for her master
Phenomenal woman! You are the sun that shines at night

Yes mother,
I am a tree, whose roots reach out to the underworld
For my silence cries louder than a metal gong
I am a crumpled flag that has slowly unfurled
I’ll teach my lips to sing this feminist song

And when Time crosses the bridge over the river
Daughter, thenceforth your hands shall wield the gold sceptre

*Maya- Maya Angelou (a black American poet, writer and feminist)

LESSONS FROM CONSTELLATIONS by Elemide Benjamin Odunayo

There are lessons for us from the constellations
if only we are patient like pebbles to learn.
.
Stars learnt to speak million things in silence,
listening to moon’s teachings and philosophies:
.
moon meditates photons of light that escaped the sun
till darkness leaves the sky for dawn to live.
.
Sun rules the sky by day, moon by night,
not for competition, but for complement,
.
so that when you dream of work at night,
you work your dream into reality by day.
.
Let women be stars; let them learn in silence,
and not be dumb when abuse strays into sky;
.
let them also be moon; let them teach hope
to future stars, for light is the end of dreams.
.
Let women not forget to rule the day as sun
and not be afraid to dominate the night as moon;
.
let them shine – no darkness can memorize
the verses of hope written in the rays of light.
.
Let men know there is no shame being stars,
learning the art of illumination from moon.
.
Let them also not forget that being sun is no
escuse to drop exasperating rays on womanhood.
.
Stars are the same when twinkling from afar,
but they are different, and bear names too.
.
These are lessons from the constellations
if only we are patient enough to learn.

A SONG IN TONGUES OF FOUR WOMEN by Adebayo Kolawole Samuel

let us pray.
we sing in tongues of silence
for our mother who walked out
of our father’s palace last night.

she bore a song of sadness
strung on chords of blue notes
on her lips of a thousand bruises.

our father,
who art in palace
we all owe you a name
of dangling penises and drooping scrotums.

of boys who never walked down
the tube of mother’s fallopian.
of beards that never grew
on your children’s chins.

you named us debtors
for we wore a suit of vagina at birth
and gave us a name that is below every other name—
omobìnrin: “a-woman-is-a-servant-of-men.”

so, you made our mother walk
into a night of aloneness
and poured the ashes
of burnt clothes
in her mouth.

a woman is a servant.
servant blood
runs in you.

we are all servants…

A WOMAN’S PLACE by Ogedengbe Tolulope Ayobami 
(a Triple triolet)

Don’t deny a woman her place
For the world belongs to no man
No matter the scars on her face
Don’t deny a woman her place.

There is a race for her to pace;
A unique race to wow her fan.
Don’t deny a woman her place
For the world belongs to no man.

Don’t deny a woman her place
For the world belongs to no man
No matter her skin or her age
Don’t deny a woman her place.

Don’t treat her with bias of race,
Thinking it’s wrong to have a tan.
Don’t deny a woman her place
For the world belongs to no man.

Don’t deny a woman her place
For the world belongs to no man
No matter the weight of her brace
Don’t deny a woman her place.

Yes, God has given her the grace
To stand out great like a titan
Don’t deny a woman her place
For the world belongs to no man.

A LETTER TO MAMA by Nome Emeka Patrick

Mama, how this ocean breaks on the city on your cheeks
Holding your soul with teary tunes like little chirping chicks,
Your soluble sighs strain the sight of the stars and moon,
Yet, you wake up, new as dew, and hold gaiety like noon…

I know your heart is a confinement of teary tales and sour songs
For the fire that has made an abode in your fine bountiful bosom;
How papa spat on your hair, kinky like the greeneries of Africa
And how you held soliloquies in our kitchen, making him dinner.

I know a girl, whose thighs are a river bound for her husband,
How her betrothed visits at the death of dusk to quench the gland
Of fire burning in the crossroad ‘tween his black and heavy thighs
And how she folds the body of nights into sour songs and sighs…

We all burn the same way, our brittle bones creak the same rhythm
For we are borne into a land where our gender has no reasons..
Did I tell you Mama, of the scars engraved on the slate of my heart
How some devils tore my wrapper and crushed my feminine petal?

Mama, I know you’re like a yacht lost in the fury of a raging storm
And We are like fine fishes pulled to shore, out of our aquarium.
Hold on to patience, Mama, and give your prayers wings to fly
For even when we fall, we still dust off our weakness and rise…

Mama, even the sun with its great guts and glory and threats
Still envies your soul for how it bears forbearance and strength.
Mama, remember, Queen Idia, Nefertiti of Egypt, Amina of Zaria
And how they broke the walls of stereotypes limiting their power?

Mama, for long have we been lurked in this stubborn storm,
Yet, the shores ache for the touch of our footprints and forms.
For in the body of the wave, on the peak of a ship, sits a dove
And it hums thus: ‘You’re beautiful, and you’re strong – woman.”

THE FOURTH DAUGHTER’S ELEGY by Laolu Poe Alani 

Tell me, Iyaagba[1]. She wished, did she not─?
Three daughters she birthed before me
Did she wish for an arole[2] but I was born?
Do not answer. I fear that your answer may shatter me!

Tell me, Father. How many more did you lay with?
For an aremo[3], someone to call Akinlabi[4]─
Did Mother curse your iyawo[5] tun-tun[6] with her last breath?
Three more daughters were born to you after me!

I tell you, sisters: Father never loved us!
No─Not as he would have, a son! Nor as dearly as we loved him!
Not even when we climbed the trees─all seven of us!
Not even when Arike[7] named her bastard son Akinlabi[4] after him.

Olowo ori mi[8], I long to share your pleasures in bed
But my first lover─the okola’s[9] circumcision knife─
Nipped off budding teenage passions in my tiny bud.
While Father held apart my tender, infant thighs.

Conscience is a drum that a lover’s heart should beat.

Olowo ori mi[8], tell me; my arms ache for children to hold dear
But I carry in my belly the same seven-headed fear as Mother.
Will you love me less─for every daughter I bear?
Will you flee our love nest─lest I birth another?

Do not answer, olowo ori mi![8]. I fear your answer!
Do not answer, olowo ori mi[8]. My heart may shatter.

1. Used to refer to the most senior mother in a family perhaps a grandmother or a great-grandmother
2. A family’s first son.
3. Heir.
4. A Yoruba name for a male child.
5. Wife.
6. New.
7. A Yoruba name for a female child.
8. An affectionate term used to refer to a husband. It translates loosely to “The one who paid my dowry.”
9. One who circumcises or marks children tribally.

GENDER RAPE by Anointed Olumuyiwa

Rape?
Rape is also trust speared with thrusts
when:
Weighty words work weariness
upon the tender stems of ambitions
divulged in confidence
When gilded gestures
hush shush and stifle
natural yearnings of nascent souls
When antediluvian conformations
command curiosities to order
and to be ordered!
When familial love’s lustre
is lazily and steadily leached
by society’s suppression and oppression,
When almighty societal grooming
is naught but sequential programming!
And when gender markings,
mutilations and insane morbidities
are entrenched, enforced and enlisted!
Such is the nature
Of that dreadful horror
Unconfined to the wanton lusts
Of degenerates and degenerates
But present in all of us
And all around us
All according to our wills… and all according to our ways.

Emmanuel will be awarded the top prize of N7000 cash prize, certificate, and books. 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. The prizes will be awarded at the Words Rhymes & Rhythm LITERARY FESTIVAL 2017.

“Humans come in twos: female and male men. All the February poems have explored the pitfalls of inequality and the march to equality with quality. All deserve congratulations.” — Brigitte Poirson

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, the BPPC has since grown to be one of country’s most popular, especially among the younger poets.

BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST (BPPC) SEASON III, 2017

NOTE: Submissions are being received for the MARCH 2017 edition on the theme: CONFUSION: THE NEW WORLD (DIS)ORDER?

CLICK HERE TO ENTER.

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