IN THE NAME OF TRANSCENDENTALS by Ibe Obasiota Ben

IN THE NAME OF TRANSCENDENTALS by Ibe Obasiota Ben

black woman with a sad face

IN THE NAME OF TRANSCENDENTALS

by Amarachi Iwuafor

In the Name of Transcendentals – Second Runner-up of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

in faith i write that this poem is not a hangman

even though there are too many lifeless bodies here

even though this poem is a body in timeless regress–

fluid. formless. fragile.

 

i am still trying to understand metaphors 

just like i am still trying to understand my mother and her God–

hot and cold. mist and wine.

just like i am still searching for spaces 

where grief is not the aftermath of ghost

not the aftermath of war 

not the aftermath of home placed in fire

to negotiate the weight of tragedy.

 

all my life i have been searching the water

for things lost in the shoulder plate of home & grief. 

i do not know how to explain that loss is not the noun

it is the holocaust becoming fluid enough to shift form.

black woman with a sad face

every poem about grief is a dark room.

i have seen silhouettes bounce off walls at the reflection of light 

yet neither light nor miracle is panacea for grief.

i do not know at what point grief rankshifts into growth

but i know how much grief feels like passing through the water 

yet only a thing made hallowed can truly pass through water.

i know dead men who come alive in dreams

that is to say i want to believe 

death is really a form of transcendence

which is perhaps what it means to relive.

 

poems made of grief are the hardest to hold.

it’s easy to scream into the water

& pretend that you do not hear your own voice

& pretend also that silence is not a form of mockery. 

 

in war i write that this body has no agency to accept more grief

that is to say this body at another

prick will come apart like a balloon or a broken home.

i am several miles away from home

& the only relic i have is a whitening portrait of my father

falling away like an incomplete painting. 

home is this painting. a metaphor for the origin of passing.

do not try to disable metaphors like these

because the ground of the metaphor is hidden in grief and pain.

Photo Credit: Photo by Lucxama Sylvain from Pexels

SHE STARED BACK AT US WITH HER EYES CLOSED by Amarachi Iwuafor

SHE STARED BACK AT US WITH HER EYES CLOSED by Amarachi Iwuafor

burnt matchsticks

SHE STARED BACK AT US WITH HER EYES CLOSED

by Amarachi Iwuafor

She Stared Back at Us with Her Eyes Closed – First Runner-up of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

When death walked in, it took in its arms 

         one person, 

walking past the tunnels where light had 

         never touched.

Then it left two footprints. One, grief. The

         other, memories. I’ve felt pain, 

but grief is twice the weight of pain. Our 

palms have been stained by the colors 

         of it.

I touch the walls of my memories, 

        trying to remember 

the last time we held hands. I search for her 

        in photographs

burnt matchsticks

that once held the whole shape of her.

I heard she had wished to stay longer?

        How often we grope for life 

when we are close to death.

        But most times, the life 

we live is never ours, neither our choice.

         At night,

when the world is dark, fears burn into 

        the walls of my room, 

and in my room there are nightmares.

I keep dreaming into the places we 

        first met. 

I am lost most of the night.

But as time moves like waters across the 

        shore

I build solace in these words:

People don’t die, they only lose their 

       bodies.

Photo Credit: Photo by Maksim Goncharenok from Pexels

HYDROLOGY by Chiwenite Onyekwelu

HYDROLOGY by Chiwenite Onyekwelu

black woman

HYDROLOGY

by Chiwenite Onyekwelu

Hydrology – Winner of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

You were my first undoing. You 

       whom I met at the shorelines of my life.

In the sizzling of oatmeal too close 

      to ruins      the television bright eyed on 

Saturday nights     & the crisp chattering 

      of Ludo seeds, I took care to hold you at 

an aunty’s distance. How come you 

      blurred the lines & met me unguarded.

I wanted to be a child that very night: 

       soft & fragile & yet untouched.

But you held me in your mouth, 

       weightless as I was. You led me by the  

hand into your deeps. How the river 

      swallows an eel    & was I not the victim 

 

                    of a turbulence that 

         began with you alone? 

Now, all my childhood days stand 

       against me. This body bears witness to a 

borrowed tide. The wounds fresh as spring 

have immortalized you in all the wrong places. 

& yes,   I’ve been bleeding my whole life.

              I keep sinking halfway to the shore.

But healing is an expertise I’m willing

        to learn. In this way, I come out drenched,

yet alive, with enough breath to begin again.

Photo credit: Photo by Waldir Évora from Pexels

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CHIWENITE ONYEKWELU’S works have been published or are forthcoming on America Media, Brittle Paper, Kreative Diadem, ZenPens and elsewhere. He was a runner up for the Foley Poetry Contest 2020, a finalist for Stephen A. Dibiase Poetry Contest 2020 and winner of the Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize 2019 for his poem “The Origin of Wings”. He was also shortlisted for the Kreative Diadem Annual Writing Contest 2019 and was the 2nd prize winner of the Newman Writing Contest (NMWC) 2017. Chiwenite studies pharmacy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria.

NOTES ON CRAFT: CREATING MEMORABLE CHARACTERS by Olakunle Ologunro

NOTES ON CRAFT: CREATING MEMORABLE CHARACTERS by Olakunle Ologunro

Conversations

Notes on Craft: Creating Memorable Characters

by Olakunle Ologunro

Dear Writer,

So, to this week’s letter: CRAFTING MEMORABLE CHARACTERS.

I should begin with the obvious questions: a) What are characters? b) What do they do? c) Why should they be memorable? d) How can they be memorable?

I believe that any writer should be able to answer these questions easily. I want you to answer them while I add my own tiny points.

Characters are important to your writing. They are the human and non-human agents that help move your story forward. I say non-human because characters don’t have to be human sometimes. They can be animals, as in Animal Farm by George Orwell. They can be inanimate objects like a bundle of broomsticks, a sheaf of papers, a table and a chair. What they do is that they propel the story forward. Things happen to them, they make things happen, and thus drive the story further and further towards a resolution.

Let’s focus on human characters. How do you make them memorable? How do you write them in such a way that they jump off the pages of the book to become real, alive? How do you make the reader love them so much that they can picture them easily? How do you make the readers bond with them the way readers of Half of a Yellow Sun did with Kainene Ozobia? 

The first and easiest answer is to think of the characters as real people. As humans. If you as a writer deny your character the opportunity to be human, it becomes difficult (and impossible, frankly) for the readers to see them as humans.

In creating something, you have to look at the previously existing models. That way, you are able to draw inspiration and see what you are doing right and wrong. I think it should be the same for your characters too. What existing models do you have? People. 

Look at people. Study them. Observe and take note of the things they do and how they do them. How do they speak? What kind of gestures do they make? What is it about them that strikes you? Their dressing? Their poise? Their carriage? Their anger? Their laughter? Their silence? Now ask yourself, how can I bring this into fiction?

To create memorable characters, a simple hack is that you should have an idea of what the character looks like. That is, their physical attributes and features. This is a bracket that answers questions of age, height, facial structure, hair, etc.

Another thing to put into consideration is their personality. Are they boisterous, quiet, prone to fits of anger? Why? This question then leads to the question of their psychology.

What kind of upbringing do they have? How educated are they? What do they struggle with? What motivates them?

Yes, memorable characters must have motivation. A reason for doing the things that they do. Do they love someone that is unattainable? How are they taking this? Do they feel slighted by someone? How are they reacting to this? Why do they work at that job that doesn’t pay well? Why do they continue to attend that church?

Give your characters conflict. It can be internal, for example, a decision to choose between what seems right and what is right, as in “True Happiness” by Efua Traore. The conflict can also be external. Between them and another person, between them and their environment, the elements.

Put a barrier between your character and the very thing they want the most. How they struggle to achieve this desire is a story all on its own. Make the character a person you can live with, a person you cannot live with, a person you cannot live without.  

At the core of your character creation should be the awareness that all humans are flawed. That is one way to begin the work of crafting memorable characters.

See you soon.

-Kunle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Olakunle Ologunro is a Nigerian writer. His work has been published in Brittle Paper, Agbowo, the Queer Africa anthology, and the Gerald Kraak anthology for work that provokes thought on the topics of gender, social justice and sexuality. He is an alumnus of the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop and a finalist for the 2020 Adina Talve-Goodman Fellowship from One Story Magazine. He won the inaugural Kreative Diadem Prize for short fiction.

Photo Credits:

Photo by Any Lane from Pexels

 

 

 

NOTES ON CRAFT: HELPFUL TIPS ON WRITING DIALOGUE by Olakunle Ologunro

NOTES ON CRAFT: HELPFUL TIPS ON WRITING DIALOGUE by Olakunle Ologunro

Conversations

Notes on Craft: Helpful Tips on Writing Dialogue

by Olakunle Ologunro

Dear Writer,

It’s me again. I apologise for how long this has taken. Life happened. To be honest though, that’s the nature of life: to always happen. What matters is how we manage it, and frankly, I think I’m doing a poor job at it. But we move anyway, trying and failing until we arrive at perfection.

This letter is about one aspect of writing we must try and fail at, until we arrive at perfection. That aspect is dialogue. Dialogue plays an essential role in any form of writing you do, either fiction or nonfiction. A story cannot simply rely on narration alone. The stories will have characters, and it’s only natural for these characters to have conversations about what they are going through, the beauties of life, and perhaps something as mundane as what they had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Even if these characters have speech impediments and cannot verbally express their desires, they can communicate through sign language or other means, and this helps move the story forward.

Dialogue can be used to reveal things the readers (and even the characters) do not know. 

Dialogue can also show character. Through the way they speak, their choice of words, one can deduce their educational status, their philosophy of life, their dispositions. If they stammer, dialogue should be able to reveal it. If they are nervous, afraid, or flirty, dialogue should be able to reveal it.

Dialogue can also show age. A teenager can be portrayed to use ‘like’ in sentences. For example: “And I was like, oh my Gosh, you did not just say that. Like, can you imagine.”

Dialogue can be used (and should be used) to express emotions: anger, joy, disgust, surrender, etc. If the dialogue is effective, you do not have to rely on dialogue tags like: “You are mad!” Anuli shouted angrily. Because the actions preceding and the dialogue would have shown that to the readers. In fact, you should avoid using any other dialogue tag other than ‘said.’

So, what do you look out for when writing dialogue? What tips are helpful?

For starters, here’s what I do:

  1. I try to know who the characters are. Knowing them means I can understand the kind of things they would say, and how they would say it.
  2. I read the dialogue out loud. This way, I test it to know if it is something a real person would say.
  3. Sometimes, I don’t read it out loud. I turn it over and over, cut out parts that I consider unnecessary. How do I know parts that are unnecessary? Return to 1.
  4. I listen to people. Take not of how they speak, the words they use, the breaks between choosing the next word. And since fiction imitates life, well…

So, how does one get better? Practice. Practice. Read how writers use dialogue, and then practice some more. Here are more helpful tips:

  • Avoid unnecessarily long paragraphs of talk.
  • Ensure that each character has a unique voice or style of speaking.
  • Include details that may or may not have anything to do with speech. For example: 

“Good morning, Mama,” the girl said.

Mama sized her up with her eyes.
“What is good about the morning, Raluchi? Tell me, what is good about the morning when you are yet to pay me what you owe?”

“Squad” by Linda Musita is a story I like for how it uses dialogue. There are two characters in conversation, and Linda Musita depicts them perfectly such that we are able to tell distinctly who is who. What is more? Linda Musita eschews the dialogue tag ‘said’. This goes a long way to show you that there is no “one size fits all” approach to writing dialogue. Master the rules, then bend them the way you want.

See you soon.

-Kunle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Olakunle Ologunro is a Nigerian writer. His work has been published in Brittle Paper, Agbowo, the Queer Africa anthology, and the Gerald Kraak anthology for work that provokes thought on the topics of gender, social justice and sexuality. He is an alumnus of the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop and a finalist for the 2020 Adina Talve-Goodman Fellowship from One Story Magazine. He won the inaugural Kreative Diadem Prize for short fiction.

Photo Credits:

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

 

 

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