The Eriata Oribhabor Prize for Poetry contest was open for submissions from Nigerian poets and lovers of literature   on the sub-themes of: Unity, Truth, Justice, Change and Sustainable Development in society, with focus on Nigeria.

The judges (Rasaq Malik Gbolahan, Oyindamola Shoola, and F. O. C. Ikwuemesibe) have made their decisions, and here are the winners of the 2017 EOPP organised by Words Rhymes & Rhythm in collaboration with Something for Everybody Ventures (SFEV).

1st Runner-up

Mesioye Johnson, award-winning Ogun poet and a graduate of Banking and Finance from the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, is a joint winner of the 2016 Green Author Prize. He is also a winner of the Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest (April 2016), and a finalist in other editions.

Prize: 20,000 Naira 

Winning Poem: ‘PROBABILITY’

We are the two sides of a coin

but unsure of the side that grits the ground

in music brewed with morrows.

This city is a dice

and we are people of shades like a dice too.

We are life, and life is a dice, so we throw our body

to the wind for the ground to decide our fate of numbers:

That we harbour pains in our fingers

doesn’t mean we are dirty or that a win won’t rip it off

into fire later, never mind if it’s a one now;

that we find it difficult to count orphans

wanting a feel of home in their tears

doesn’t mean we’ll father silences on our tongues

for the rest of our lives,

never mind if this city gives you a two now;

that we slip thru oil into a ditch of our gone shadow

doesn’t mean we won’t still fill it with the stories

designing our palms with tragedies,

never mind if it’s a five now, but

do you now see how time changes yesterday?

Hope is the cloth of the mind.

That we walk in a dark room

wanting the touch of a nova

in our passing smiles

doesn’t mean we won’t still be a home

with curtains of calm shadows,

never mind if it’s a three this time,

we just have to throw again

cos the space we leave for doubts

may be the only time left to breathe in this city of fluttering songs;

that elders plant promises that never sprout abundance

but the flag of our hunger in fine colours

doesn’t mean we won’t be a garden

fluttering our blossoming desires

when we throw fertile thoughts like a dice, like this city,

never mind if it’s a four now

for we just have to keep clothing our mind with roses

cos zero is never a number on what we throw,

cos it’s never a number of this city,

for who knows if the wind will add our smiles

and result to six when we toss our face

with hopes that loop the heart with fine morrows?

2nd ﹰRunner-up: 

Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau, one of Nigeria’s finest poets. Adedayo, a trained food nutritionist and photographer has won several literary awards including the Pulse Student Poetry Prize and the Tony Tokunbo Fernandez International Poetry Prize, both won in 2014; the Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest (July) in 2015 and the Eriata Food Poetry Contest in 2016.  He is the author of For Boys Who Went, a collection of poems.

Related  Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize

Prize: 15,000 Naira 

Winning Poem: ‘DIFFERENTIATION’

Fix ε>0 and a.

From the definition of differentiation we have

|f(x)−f(a)x−a−f′(a)|<ε    a marketplace –bodies carving selves into storehouses, stories burning, feet heavy with baggage –they came

to be appropriately chosen δ>0.                                   let δ be the victims, f be the frequency of numbers, x be the weight of salt, a be the grief waiting to break into ash            in silence, a red-green pointer ticks

Multiply both sides by |x−a| to get:|f(x)−f(a)−(x−a)f′(a)|<|x−a|ε

                                    my mother sing of places metamorphosed into a garden/grave of flowers

                                    ash-yellow. inside is full of prayers/answers returning to owners/wishes carved like epitaphs                        the epiphany of a morning broken like the fins of a lionfish   wrecks my body          yes

Using ||x|−|y||≤|x−y| we have:

|f(x)−f(a)|−|x−a|⋅|f′(a)|<|x−a|ε:

a boy in the market holds his mother’s hand

they dream together. his father by the window

waiting, slowly longing into the road with a smile

 

the woman –femur/long like surah fathia

the boy –his button shines into the sun

he just passed his exams

 

Rearrange to get:|f(x)−f(a)|<(|f′(a)|+ε)⋅|x−a|   :/place=maiduguri

                                                            forget the people in the market

and remember this place is a sea –of head –of sinners –of people who are a blasphemy –of debris washed back to shore –of girls wanting to become –of the becoming of boys –of lovers hiding smiles beneath their chest, waiting for sunset’s return –of mothers whose husbands will teach themselves to sing with their teeth, hold the gourds of their wives and drain the blood –the sand will testify

since f′(a) and ε are both fixed, you can make |f(x)−f(a)| as big as you want by making |x−a|bigger and bigger. Thus, the function is continuous at a/ε +boom!

 

in the beginning,

god created the heavens

& the earth

 & the earth was without form

& the earth was without form

& the earth was without form

& the earth was without form

& each spirit roamed the earth in search of its own skin, even that of the innocent boy.
3rd Runner-up:

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Benue-born poet Ogwiji Ehi-kowochio Blessing, a fourth-year student of the University of Ibadan who is also the winner of the 2017 edition of the Albert Jungers Poetry Prize (AJPP), awarded to the best poem from the combined top 10 entries of the monthly Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest (BPPC), from February to September 2017.

Prize: 10,000 Naira 
In addition, all three poets will be awarded certificates at the Words Rhymes Literary Festival, Feast of Words 2017, scheduled to hold at the University of Ibadan on Saturday 16th of December, 2017.

Winning Poem: ‘TELL LADY JUSTICE’

Drunken with an intoxicating prejudice,

Our gavel staggers from side to side,

Chanting songs to the drumbeats of crime.

I may only be a woman in my prime

But I know that the Constitution long began

To ally with unrepentant criminals and

His fiery wrath is become a friendly warmth-

Gathering offenders into an embrace

As they toast to the triumph of wrong

With chilled wine in the hollowed skulls

Of the innocent

The jury has inflicted an injury on our soul

For like the ears of corn, stuck on either side

Of my farmland, they hear not our whispers

Nor whimpers of despair and pain

The day the wig (the crown on the head of the Law)

Began to speak the language of brown envelopes

Justice eloped with bribery and corruption

To seek nuptial bliss in the presence

Of currency notes.

So please tell Lady Justice that

The weevils are feasting on the last grains

In our silo. Tell Lady Justice that

The poor man is guilty, his innocence like

A feather on her scale, it weighs nothing

For poverty is  such a weighty crime

Tell Lady Justice to make herself a new blindfold

She seems to be examining the faces not the cases!

Tell Lady Justice to sharpen her sword with the file

On the rough tongue of incorruptible judges-

In between whose teeth, fair judgment cannot get stuck.

Tell Lady Justice that the poor men are at her nip,

Waiting to suckle the milk of freedom.

Counsel, please tell her to allow them suckle

Until they wean and win their case,

Else they’ll shake the thorny hands of fate as aforetime.

Great poems, don’t you agree?

Now in its 6th edition, the Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize (EOPP) was instituted in 2012 as an annual Prize to give the much needed attention to Nigerian poetry and encourage young Nigerian poets to use poetry as a tool for social change. Till next  year!

Susan Nwaobiala
Author: Susan Nwaobiala

Susan is a writer and Content Strategist currently studying for a B.A. degree in English-Literature. She loves exploring the world of social media and connecting with people through relatable and valuable content. Books, brands and personal development are usually foremost on her mind.

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