at the last moment
(we would find the warmth)
tormenting tides would wane
the storms shall cease
the floods finally fade
our rainbow would spread…
however sleep fared
life’s dream would kiss you
as the rays bless more
wake to stimulating smiles
come to the hearth then
the ghost would have found fires
and the spirit would’ve warmed our homes
no holes then dear, we would have a long lasting laugh. amen.
(From Home Equals Holes: Tale of an Exile – Joint Winner Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize 2014)
No matter where you are, hang on to hope, smile. In our deepest despair, the bleakest night, there come’s a light to repair it all and make it worth the wait. Have faith. Merry Christmas guys- and lovely ladies. SVA
It is the first week of October and the weekend of our dear country Nigeria’s independence (1st October) and we have two awesome festivals here: the five year old Lagos International Poetry Festival (LIPFEST) curated by the superstar spoken word maestro, Efe Paul Azino and the new Quramo Festival, curated by the great folks at the Quramo Publishing Corporation. QFest is a tight bullet affair of depth running from October 2nd to 4th while LIPFEST is a full month roller coaster (October 3 to November 2020).
I know, one of those titles. I assure you I will actively look into thinking about hiring someone to help me work on titles. When the thoughts come in, you let them flow or you lose them while trying to find a title. Etc etc.
I was talking to my friend, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim after a while and catching up on a gazillion things. Naturally, we had to talk about the new normal and the virtual festivals. How did we get there? I and the team at SEVHAGE are working on the Benue Book and Arts Festival, scheduled for December. Like almost everyone else in the literary world, we had a virtual plan but after talking to Abubakar, I think we can work on a hybrid. More on that later, for now, keep the date for first week of of December and we will ensure that whether it is physical or virtual or whatever else, there will be room for you to access our amazing festival in person and online. But that is not what this post is about… This post is about how you have moved on from a project and are on a new one, have spoken about the old projects so much that your mouth will pain you just remembering the book but because it is people’s favourite, it is the one they will want to keep asking questions about. To put it in perspective, imagine Chinua Achebe’s last published work of fiction was Anthills of the Savannah in 1987 but when people met him and wanted to talk about his works, it would often be a conversation revolving around Things Fall Apart of 1958!
So….let’s move on.
I found this poem somewhere on my system from many years ago. I think it was a test from one of our English lessons, maybe Introduction to Creative Writing II or Poetry or something. I do remember the course lecturer though, (now Professor) Moses Tsenongu, himself a poet that we looked up to, a past Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (Benue State Chapter), a position I would eventually come to occupy years later.
It was one of my first less playful poems. The assignment was to write a Valentine poem. Some of my friends asked me how I would conjure one up, since I was not in any relationship. They had healthy laughs at me. Well, I smiled and put on my imaginative hat.
Hello world, I have been absent from here for a bit and my health has been a part of the reasons but there are some conversations that need to keep on being had. So, let’s get to one of them…
It is no news that the SEVHAGE chapbook series is coming back in full, or is it? Okay, maybe. But I am sure it is no news that Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto won our SEVHAGE/Angya Poetry Prize 2019 (supported by Eunice Spring of Life Foundation). I guess the news is that we are releasing the winning poem, ‘Every Month a Year’ alongside other poems from his entry and others into a chapbook, ‘The teenager who became my mother.’
Kanyinsola Olorunnisola, a Nigerian multi-genre writer, has won the 2020 K & L prize with his story, ‘Abija, the Architect of Mayhem.’
The K & L Prize is a short fiction prizeworth $1,000 awarded for unpublished fiction by Africans/African residents (aged 18-25) in a given year, usually based on a selected theme. It was founded in 2018 by the New-Zealand based Nigerian writer, Myles Ojabo. Each year, an anthology is also produced from selected entries to the competition, usually the longlisted stories.
So, this started today. The Lockdown Live Series streaming on Facebook every Friday via The Youth Cafe.
The Series is an initiative of Sussex Writes (University of Sussex), SOS Children’s Villages & The Youth Café (Kenya).
We have participants from around the world. Today, we had Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Turkey& the UK, discuss issues around education in the pandemic, not just focusing on the challenges (also not leaving them out) but also looking at solutions.
It is a supercharged series& I am glad to be working with these amazing people from around the world, with colleagues& friends, like Jennifer Chinenye Emelife, George Clutterbuck & Emma Newport. Amazing how in a short while we’ve gone from doing Literature and leading workshop sessions in primary& secondary schools in UK to virtual sessions with the world on learning in broader views!
Dates for our Facebook video screenings &topics:
• June 19 th @12.00 (GMT) – Mental Health
• June 26th @12.00 (GMT)– Internet, Digital information, misinformation and disinformation
• July 3rd @12.00 (GMT)– Post-COVID-19 futures
Let’s work together to make things better& give the world a sustainable tmrw. Cheers!
#LearningInLockdown #MyCheveningJourney #CheveningAlumni #YouthPrograms #CivicSpace #DigitalLiteracy #YouthDevelopment #COVID-19
Words came in a whisper
Echoed in thunder:
Do not let the dust force your feet too many steps forward
Many are the souls who sleep to wake
Across borders where the lines of existence are blurred
I was somewhere and it seemed I died
Then I woke to the sight of a ceremony
Where an aunt sat, three cherubs at her sides
The air raised my feet as I floated to her
She smiled, then passed a handkerchief
Drummers emerged from behind scenes
Black striped dancers swaying forward in snaked rhythm
Smiling to embrace this new entrant
(From Dozie Arts)
As the dust rose, senses shouted that swange
Was a dance for the feet of mortals
I called out to grace
Then woke, to find light pouring in
And more dancers stamping outside
Inviting me to a dance…
Often our happiness is not a result of things happening to us per se but what we decide to concentrate on, and appreciate. Do we count our blessings or misfortunes. Do we look at the things that go right or the things left, the things thay went wrong?
I’m learning and relearning that even in the seemingly worst – or best – scenarios, redirecting our gaze can have profound implications.
I could tell a million stories to illustrate but…I guess our individual and collective stories, if we think about this will explain this more than a few words can ever do. And if a few things come to mind, please share. Would help me in something I am working on.
Wherever this day takes you, may the times smile and your heart find a light to always shine, despite whatever darkness may abound.
PS: Picture related but not entirely related to above.
#Inspiration #Grace #thinkdifferent #Life
The fires that could not consume us
Made our bones metals
This is how boys are forged into men
The world is for tungsten hearts
Men who dare their beast in the face
And carry their mountains in baskets
The world is for those who dance
In gatherings of hurricanes
And still survive its suffocation.