THE FIRST OF MANY LOVE NOTES (A POEM) by Sefa Renee Charles-Ayede

You’ve raised countless armies and helped mould empires out of individuals
You’ve fed everyone whom you backed, like the Queens you’ve raised have done with princes
You’ve fed not alone those who are biologically yours
You don’t see the difference between man and beast
As long as they are a part of nature’s limited yet sufficient circle
You’d show them as much love
In fact a great amount, if we could quantify love

My ancestors and the ancestors of many travailed far and wide looking for a space of their own
You opened your arms and your heart to as many people who sought a place to call home
Your heart is one that doesn’t see black or white, the rainbow is limited compared to how

                           colourful and warm your heart is
You’re more than just lands, rivers and mountains
There’s so much to you than the jewellery you’ve been divinely adorned with

It is futile using mere words to describe your beauty
Every angle only magnifies the limitlessness of your splendour
Mother of nations, wife to none
Daughter of a great father, yes you are his heart

Five decades is not how long you’ve existed
You always been since the Genesis
You’re relentless, like light it’s difficult to hide you
Again, these words fail woefully
How do you actually define GREAT without falling short of its ….?

A child can only boast of a woman he sees wonderful enough to be called Mother
A soldier can only lay his life for a land he sees worth dying for
The quality of a surname is dependent on the one who starts it

For the grounds that raised me, I ask that you only grow more fertile and stronger
I’ll take my time to walk, stop and pay tribute to YOU

A soldier can only lay his life for a land he sees worth dying for …
       N    I   G   E   R   I    A 
Sefa Renee Charles-Ayede is a Nigerian poet based in Malaysia.

Becky (A Poem) by amu nnadi

i knew you long before i knew you existed
long before you stood before me, warm
and new york said hello with her brilliant smile;
you bear in you the light of the cosmos, your eyes
two rivers leading to a great sea, your heart
warm, incarnate and inextinguishable, flame
where you carry as constellation and flower
the hopes and dreams of your people

long before i knew you existed, long 
before that warm embrace of welcome on 76th
and the fragrance of gratitude from a coarse
african, with words like the sorcery of rivers
i have felt on my brow your brightness, the
warmth of the sun that is the joy of your complexion
as the virgin plains of my homeland, with
their creased landscape of hills and valleys

i have followed, long before i knew you
the bright rays of your rainbow, your flaming
followed them as though in them the world built
a lighthouse, to bring to shore all the wayward
and lost ships of life; for in you lives the miracle
of humanity, for you love without restraint, as sun
just loving, not knowing which calyx its brightest
rays will touch and coax into the loveliest petals

in you, becky, lives a world of many gifts
in you the gift of grace and compassion
in you the fire of conviction, your veins teem
with it, touching everyone, inspiring
nursing and nourishing hope in man
in you the radiance of joy and the softness of pollen
in you the gift of warmth, like a blazing daylight
in you, becky, the gift of embrace, holding everyone

and i declare, in the lines of my poem and in the
beating of my heart, once i felt it too, your kindness
far removed from you, not knowing you existed
separated by the great expanse and strange customs
of the sea, troubled by its waves and rising tide;
you were that great sail that steadied my tremblings
that great light that led me to medgar evers, where
held in the tenderness of eyes, my heart bled with bliss

today i come to honour you, becky, with cowries
the white fowl of my poem and the freshest palmwine
i come bearing the censers of love, to honour you
as you did me, long before i knew you existed
long before you saw the dimmed light of my eyes;
today we all come bearing our token gifts, to share
with you the great wonder of faith in another; for
though i did not know you, though you did not know
me, you reached across the sea and valleys and hills

and touched me with your light, familiar as air;
for you are filled with oxygen and all that give earth life
you are, becky, what endows humanity with human
and eternity, with goodness and the light of the cosmos:
i honour you, my words honour you, my poem honours you
today i name you in the consecration of my lips;
let your people honour you too, hold you up as lantern
for you shine with the brightness of hope, warm
and inextinguishable, kind and beautiful beyond words

amu nnadi is the author of some five collections of poems including the fire within, winner of the 2002 ANA Gabriel Okara Prize for Poetry, pilgrim’s passage, shortlisted for the 2005 Nigeria Prize for Literature, andthrough the window of a sandcastle, winner of the 2013 ANA Poetry Prize and runner up to the 2013 Nigeria Prize for Literature. He also won the Glenna Luschei Prize for African poetry. Catch an interview with him here

amu nnadi wrote the poem ‘becky’ to a loud ovation in the United States… So, need to know about him? He writes his poetry in small letters alone. He is a great man with a fine soul, generous, and nearly never sleeping scribbler who loves literature especially poetry with a passion. He lives in Port Harcourt with his family and will be publishing his new collection of poetry, a field of echoes with his publishers, Paressia, this 2015.


Far too long (The Silence Lingers) – A poem by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

(For A…)

Through it all, I lost your touch

For some reason the silence lingers
The space widens
The elasticity of love and friendship stretches longer
Is it work, time or hard luck?
Is it that the thought of fondness no longer gladdens?

Whatever it is…

For some reason, the silence lingers
The space widens
The elasticity of love and friendship stretches longer
And through it all, I miss you much.

HERO (A Poem) – Su’eddie Vershima Agema

Is it right that we who are so small
accept to fall
when we ought to stand tall?
My heart – Lull…

The caresses of complacency
stroke me gently
its own currency
stimulating me to deceptive docility

I am given stale bread
for my stupid silence
you are fully dressed in holes and red
answering forever’s call in muteness

I should have stood for you
King of the exceptional few
but I am no hero: ten mouths call more to feed
so I lie with the crumbs, praising and mourning you.

(From BRING OUR CASKET HOME: Tales one shouldn’t tell)

(First published on EGC)




For the first time, I am publishing my ‘Thoughts’ not on a book or article but on a person, a friend, Dr. Hyginus Ekwuazi – no, not the fine medical Dr, a great man in himself but the elder Dr. For those who do not know this literary giant – and it would be surprising, Dr. Hyginus Ekwuazi is a man of many talents. He is a lecturer in the department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan – a former Head of Department. He is a giant in the famous Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood. In poetry, he is a name feared by competitors in any category that his work appears – quite justifiably.This might not be unconnected with his continuous swooping of prizes year by year since his debut collection in 2007. He has won the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Poetry prize with almost all of his four poetry collections. It has gotten so bad that people have suggested that he should be made a permanent judge so that the slot can be left open to other people to win – haba! Several prose writers need beware as he has joined the field. Dr. Ekwuazi recently published a children’s book, I’ve Miles to Walk Before I Sleep. And he isn’t stopping there, if he is the man that I know and yes, I think I do – to some point.

Dr. Ekwuazi’s poetry collections are Love Apart (2007); Dawn into Moonlight (2008); The Monkey’s Eyes (2009); and That Other Country (2010). They are all fascinating books including the ‘worst’ of them all The Monkey’s Eyes of which I wrote ‘You do not need to go beyond the cover of the book to see its ugliness.’ 🙂 (He laughed when I showed him an excerpt of the essay with this ‘yab’ or claims to have laughed. Hmm, one wonders if it is not the changing ‘I dey laugh’ sort of laughter of Nigerian politicians these days:)). Jokes aside, Ekwuazian poetry is beautiful. I should know this especially as I have had all my copies of the book in my possession ‘borrowed’ without my permission. Those which I got back as a gift from the author have exchanged so many hands of my friends and students. It is no surprise also that many of the students I have introduced it to have had need of very little convincing to write their final essays on. Themes that he focuses on behind love notes and simple verse include Biafra, nationalism, corruption, decay, love, life and death, among others. For style, he adopts a narrative stance that flow his poems as being story like. This indeed might be the magic of his poems that are also told in simple words, without any effort at pedanticism or the more traditional stance of obscurity by most poets. As such, even the casual reader falls in love instantly with the words of this pen magician whose way with words is phenomenal for even in his seeming simplicity and narration comes a great assortment of themes, literary and poetic devices. These devices are poured forth subtly such that only a careful look reminds one that the words used there are not ordinary but a rich trove. Hmm, with such craft, I sure agree that this man should be made a permanent judge or honorary ‘something’ (we will think of the title). Haba! How would others (like me with my just published 54 Weeks: A love poem) get something if he continues this way? 🙂 Of his poetry, Sam Ogabidu (Chairman of Association of Nigerian Authors, Benue State, well read critic and my good friend :)), writes that “It simply spells out a man who has read and read well.”

On why he published his prose quite late, I was pleasantly surprised when I read a letter he wrote to me and said “Do I write stories/prose? Where’s a true story: once upon a time, I started a novel and it was going very well; but from no where the fear just came upon me that if I finished it I would die…and so I stopped. I know you’re laughing but dis na true talk! Now I’ve overcome that fear…One fine tomorrow, I will start something…and you’ll see it” (April 1, 2010) I’ve Miles to Walk Before I Sleep is ‘junior fiction’ that extols the beauty of family and togetherness. Religion is discussed in neutral light and general education given a new outlook. It is instructive and educative without being a textbook narrative. It is the sort of book that one would want to give every child. It takes into cognisance the ideals and behaviour of the modern ‘internet’ child who is quite different from the child of fore (today’s parents). Not surprisingly, the flow of the novel is somewhat poetic and an Ekwuazi follower would easily notice theft of lines from his published poems!

In Dr. Ekwuazi is a man who is committed to his beliefs. He is steadfast and loyal. This is evident in his love of Christopher Okigbo who he idolises. This finds expression in essays of his like ‘Okigbo – Mythmaker & Towncrier at Heavensgate’ and countless poems dedicated to the late poet extraordinaire. It even continues to a point where one can bribe his feelings and love. I sent a collection of my poems Shrine Tale for his views. Some of the poems had been inspired by Dr. Ekwuazi and I made a point to tell him this. Not one of these got his attention. The ones that got to him were the ones that mentioned Okigbo! Dr. Ekwuazi’s loyalty can also be seen in his continuous romance with his publishers, Kraft books (owned by his friend, Steve Shaba). This has seen him publish all his poetry collections and the new children’s novel with them. The man’s loyalty spills through to friends, most of whom find their way to his poems. There is the Biafran touch that he holds dear and talks on in conversations – I believe, but most definitely stores in his thoughts and his works.

Another aspect to Dr. Ekwuazi is his simplicity and humility that would be attested to by most of his students. He is a content man too who doesn’t drag for too much. This part is most evident in the normal price of his books despite their richness both in content and layout. I was shocked to discover his collection of poetry going for a low amount (below five hundred naira!). This is a man whose poetry, as I mentioned earlier, is an award snatcher. As a friend, Dr. Ekwuazi remains loyal and faithful. Like I mentioned earlier, poems keep pouring for friends, living and dead. I do not have much to say of him as a father and husband but perhaps, I would be asking the younger Dr. Ekwuazi and Madam Nkechi, soon. Yes, this reminds me of the offer of tenancy for as long as I want that this great man has offered me. What am I waiting for? Well, let me finish with this piece first, then… Okay. So, to end I would say quite simply: Don’t skip any work that bears the name ‘Hyginus Ekwuazi.’ You sure might be writing an article longer than this after an intercourse with any. And I still wonder why critical works on him are unavailable or have I been looking in the wrong places? Whatever it is, a lot more needs to be done on him.

Live on friend, you are a worthy man.