GRIEF WILL REMAKE YOU by Ernest Ogunyemi

GRIEF WILL REMAKE YOU by Ernest Ogunyemi

GRIEF WILL REMAKE YOU

by Ernest Ogunyemi

Grief Will Remake You – First Runner-up of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

“Grief will probably/ redraft your whole/ anatomy”
—Caroline Ebeid

I have just begun my walk out of dawn
& I have begun picking dead leaves.

I have never played so close to fire, but
hear, I know the language of been burnt.

my mother taught me, the taste of a live-coal
on a boy’s tongue, when she walked out of her body,

left it a snail shell. today, I forget the language of joy,
I forget how happiness grows into a sugary bird

filling every puff of cheek, nestling under the pave
of the tongue, hiding in the spaces between the teeth

where god decided to let air in in seeps. it is the doing
of grief. how it will gift you a new tongue, or scrape clean
 
the one you knew; bland every bud that knows
sweetness; fill your mouth with a new song,
 
the way a Mother python fills a room-corner.
tell me, what is grief itself if not the remaking of a life?
 
how motherless boys are pushed into a life we never chose
burning wood & Maami’s cooking & the smell of grief’s spittle
from its latest fresh at your skin fills my nose like air.
rainwater & saltwater & the buttery taste of mucus on my tongue.
the rusty bunk bed, your fragile self pressed into its bosom.
here: the sword-edge sharp coldness of your eyes,
the wilt flowers in your hair, the after-rain quiet of your body.

 

something in my head whispers, this might be a joke.
death does not take people when their bodies begin
to green, when they’re in their most beautiful dresses—
does it?
 
when does it not?
 
I feel the pinky of grief on the nape of my neck, its touch
cold & warm like the welcoming of a new born & the burying
of its mother. the ants on my inside roam about, they pinch,
they want. a dead bird falls from my chest & ends at the floor
of my belly. the ants gather in its belly where some bees have honeyed.
a few minutes later, the ants roam again—just as I now
roam, my legs walking me to places somebody forgot to draw
on the map. the ants on my inside now bite; they bite
everything that has a name till everything that has a name forgets
its name—what is grief if not the unbottling of hunger?—
 
I forget my name, too. & I forget from
where I began walking into this new life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ernest O. Ògúnyemí (b. 2000) is a writer from Nigeria. Some of his works have appeared/forthcoming in Acumen Poetry Journal, Ricochet Review, Litro Print Journal, Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology, Lucent Dreaming, Low Light Magazine, Canvas Lit Journal, Agbowó, The Nigerian Poetry Anthology (Animal Heart Press), Polyphony Lit Mag, and elsewhere. A 2019 Adroit Summer Mentee, a 2019 COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective Fellow, and a reader at Palette Poetry and a staff reader at COUNTERCLOCK Journal, he is curating the first Young African Poets Anthology, guest-edited by Nome Emeka Patrick and Itiola Jones. In 2019, he got a mini-grant to Kickstart a literary outfit dedicated solely to young African creatives. When he is not reading a book of short stories or watching the birds flying in the sky, dreaming, you can find him on Twitter @ErnestOgunyemi.

ODE TO OUR BODY ON FIRE by Anthony Okpunor

ODE TO OUR BODY ON FIRE by Anthony Okpunor

ODE TO OUR BODY ON FIRE

by Anthony Okpunor

Ode to Our Body on Fire – Winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

Make me a night
I have not died in & let me see the way it burns.
Because this is life I have
envied everything with broken wings.
I’ve once envied my body. I do not remember how I got there.
I wake to rooms with chandeliers
but my God, I was born thirsty.
I am reminded of dust
three days before my body begins to grow.
I have outgrown the brown color of the earth.
These things mean I’m a little smaller,
my tongue blisters & there’s no city with water,
it is my silence you get to know.
Tell me, when you hear my heart beat,
how often do you stop yourself from dancing?
Does my pain still sour you?
What is dinner if we’ve not prayed over the heat?
I am unsure if the sea will hold me to my word,
my blood ties my body to this poem, in the mirror
a smile spreads to my forehead.
The smell of dust is things to come
written allover a body.
We are unlucky if our body does not burn
in the slow song of fireflies.
They will mistake our silence again.
We catch ourselves lusting in the flame.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anthony Okpunor is an emerging Nigerian writer who discovered poetry and writing in general, as a better form of self-expression. He lives and writes from Asaba in Delta State. He is a student of the University of Benin at the time. He splits his time between writing, reading, lectures, good music, and himself. His works have appeared on online platforms including African Writers and Praxis Magazine.

SHIFT, LET HER FAINT by Joseph Olamide Babalola

SHIFT, LET HER FAINT by Joseph Olamide Babalola

SHIFT, LET HER FAINT

by Joseph Olamide Babalola

She is in a taxi, almost reaching home, fingers caressing her old Android with screen cracks the semblance of the world map. Normally, other things being equal, this is Nigeria, SMS wishes should have started dinging since midnight yesterday. But now the D-day is almost spent, it is nine in the night, the moon has not surfaced, and only Access Bank ever remembered to say a Happy Birthday. Great, isn’t it? Ridiculously great.

She is not on Instagram, doesn’t do Twitter or Snapchat either, but she has two-thousand-plus Facebook friends who amassed over the years, who almost never said anything to her. She knows how things should roll on a day like this, has the full fantasy of how birthdays feel nowadays. She could visit a studio to do some solo photoshoot with the little money she earned from the salon and share it online with a scintillating caption. But she didn’t. Even though she knew the right noise to make to command multiple likes, reactions, and dope comments, still she didn’t. Today doesn’t mean much anyway—all that fun stuff that swells your head and catapults you to cloud nine are meant for her Facebook friends with the time and the means, not her.

Since heaven didn’t fall, she didn’t get today off. She hates today better. Mama G. refused to unhook her from the salon stress. It even seemed Mama G. blindly allotted her some extra work to celebrate her. She did many hairs and hers remain rough, partly combed, packed off-sight in a tight scarf—it was best not to scare customers away.

Someone would ask of her parents, ask what is their job sleeping and snoring under the public cemetery ground while she is here struggling to feed herself. And her only living relative, her Lagos sister, leaves her and returns twice in a year, thrice in a leap year.

Now she reaches home, alights, unlocks the door, switches on the bulbs, drops her bag on the table as though dumping refuse, and hits the sofa.

Who would time-travel her back to 1999? The music blasts, the set dining table, the arrival of august guests, the awesome gifts, the photo snaps, her precious red-and-white gown, the merry. But time rockets past and dumps her in the future, here. Now… no shopping, no outing, no cards, no ice cream, no candle to blow air-plus-saliva into, no cake to cut into sweet slices. Now none seems to care. It is a solo world, a strange one at that. Today lost its meaning years back, now just like any other Thursday in any other month of any other damn year.

She changes her posture and lies back down, trying hard to wade through, to take a nap if possible. But she hears a strange sound. It comes once, then stops. Whatever that is, she knows it can’t be that good. She hates cats but the sound isn’t cat’s. It is something else.

Everywhere remains clothed in deep silence—a silence so calm you can feel it. Now she listens, hears a faint breathing. She listens again and hears again. What?!

She springs up from the sofa as though performing a stunt. Breathing heavily, she mutters, “Who’s there?” and all the bulbs go off immediately. Startled, she takes two steps closer to the table, tries her hand blindly to reach her bag. But heck, it’s not there. Second attempt, the bag is missing still. Wait… is something toying with her sanity? She is sure she put it here the other time. She keeps turning and turning around and around, seeing only black and black and black darkness and nothing more. And worse, it’s hard to trace her way out without finding the bag housing her torch and phone. She stands stock-still, frozen to the heavens.

A gentle footstep creeps in from the dark. It sounds closer by the seconds. Her heart jumps, racing off-beat. No action no words, a concrete pillar is better than her. Things aren’t foreboding well. What if it’s a ghost or something worse? Her bones soften up like a biscuit dipped in a pool of milk. She develops a sharp headache, her stomach threatens to give way, and before she does anything, the footstep stops right in front of her.

J-J-J-Jesus! She screams and shivers, her hands grabbing her chest hard. One second, two seconds, the bulbs come on.

“Happy birthday, Titi!” echoes many voices. Damn! Her eyes fail, but in front of her is her Lagos sister, Mary, holding a birthday present. Kola, the cool guy with a dark acne-ridden face emerges from behind the curtains. Junior, her neighbor’s fifteen-year-old crawls out from under the sofa, holding an iPod. From the kitchen, Lizzy, Toyin, and Emma enter the living room with doughnuts and rolls. Tunde surfaces from under the dining table, pulling out a crate of Coke.

She stands on the same spot, mouth open wide, too stiff to fall. Tofunmi, the semi-friend from her workplace enters with a cake bearing her name and +1 written on it. Mr. Sam, the electrician living next door, enters with a package on his right and a kit box on his left.

Even if she wants to hug Mary tight and cry her shoulders wet till her eyes no longer produces more drops, she can’t. She is way too drained. She slumps backward like a sawn tree and Mary receives her and lays her well on the sofa.

As everyone comes around to check if she fainted, to know whether to pour water on her or not, or to just fan her up, she signals with her weak hand for the party to continue while she tries hard to digest the ongoing.

A soft music starts playing in the background. When Titi regains her strength, Mary would explain why she masterminded the whole scene, the heart-attack surprise—it is simply her creative attempt at making up for the lost days.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joseph Olamide Babalola is a writer and poet whose heartfelt love for literary creativity is unending. He loves to weld words to create beautiful masterpieces. He was shortlisted for 2018 PIN Food Poetry Contest and 2018 African Writers Award. His pieces have appeared in 101words, BNAP Anthology and Poetica Magazine. He lives in South-Western Nigeria.

“Read, read, ask good and silly questions” – Interview with Onyedikachi Chinedu

“Read, read, ask good and silly questions” – Interview with Onyedikachi Chinedu

TABLE TALK

” Read, read, ask good and silly questions ” – Interview with Onyedikachi Chinedu

This year marks the third edition of Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest and we are super pumped to have a one-on-one chat with the winner of the second edition in the poetry category, Onyedikachi Chinedu.
Onyedikachi is a queerish poet that writes from Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
In this engaging interview, Onyedikachi opens up on his passion for poetry, his reaction to winning the 2019 Kreative Diadem contest with his iconic poem, “My Father Hew out Himself on my Skin,” and his struggle with ignorance.
Enjoy.
Kreative Diadem: Who is CJ Onyedikachi? Let’s meet you! 
 
Onyedikachi: He is a young, queerish poet. He loves Ocean Vuong.

 

KD: When did you first discover your passion for poetry? What inspired you?
Onyedikachi: Three years ago. I first had my passion for poetry during my high school days (it wasn’t intense and quick), but I think it started, again, after Romeo Oriogun won the Brunel International Poetry Prize. Yes. They were more amazing poets doing amazing things with poetry. His just stuck to me. He made me a poet: his authenticity launched a great liking for poetry. Everything inspires me: a line from a poem does it for me. Likewise, an adult yawning. Everything inspires me.

Onyedikachi Chinedu

Winner of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Poetry Category)

KD: What are some of the challenges you face as a poet/writer? What steps do you take to overcome them?

Onyedikachi: One of the challenges is ignorance. The only way I deal with it is by reading and trying out what I see in books. 

KD: Who are some literary figures that inspire you/you look up to?

Onyedikachi: I live for Ocean Vuong. The literary figures I look up to, past and present, are TS Elliott, Mahmoud Darwish, Louise Glück, Ocean Vuong, Illa Kaminsky, Yusef Komunyakaa, Justin Phillip Reed, etcetera.

Currently … I’m just reading and writing. But you-all should watch out for me.

KD: In 2018, you won first prize in the poetry category of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest. How did you feel about winning?

Onyedikachi: I’m still grateful for being the winner of the second edition of the KDAWC. I was gay throughout the Yuletide season. It lasted well and I’m thankful it did.

KD:  Let’s get down to your flash fiction. What was the inspiration behind “My Father Hew Out Himself on my Skin?” Was there a specific message you intended to pass along to your readers?

Onyedikachi: The inspiration behind “My Father Hew out Himself on My Skin” was fed by my father’s non-stop talk of expectation. It is a good thing for loved ones to expect so much from whom they care for, but there should be a moment, once in a while,  where they stop and say: “we know you’re trying enough and we want to say ‘we love you.'” Lol! There was no specific message. It was just me writing how I felt after listening to my dad’s rhapsody for the umpteenth time.

KD: Apart from winning first prize in the poetry contest in 2018, what are some of your other achievements? (Awards, nominations, published works, etc?)

Onyedikachi: So far, I have no great achievements. But I have a growing number of rejection in my inbox, if you decide to count that as an achievement.

KD: What are some of your long-term goals as a writer/poet?

Onyedikachi: Go to school. Write a book or two. Have a chapbook. Be in an MFA program. Get publish more. 

KD: Are you currently working on any poems/books now?

Onyedikachi: Currently… I’m just reading and writing. But you-all should watch out for me.

KD: What advice would you give to young writers like yourself, especially in Nigeria?

Onyedikachi: The most useful piece of advice I will earnestly and truthfully give to young writers, like me, are: read, read, ask good and silly questions, read, write, read, submit; do not dare settle for mediocrity; there’s always a sunflower at the end, sooner or later.

KD: What do you think about Kreative Diadem?

Onyedikachi: KD is a nice haven for writers, poets, and readers.

KD: Any final words?

Onyedikachi: Do you think of starting a workshop for poets and writers, KD? We seriously need a space where we are mentored by great poets. Thank you.

Our second issue ever (published in 2019) Rebel is out. We had enthralling conversations with Frances Ogamba, Caleb Okereke, and Logan February. It is a bouquet of the best thought-provoking pieces you will find out there.

Do you love our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, and essays.

Kreative Diadem

The right to think is the right to write

© 2015 - 2020 Kreative Diadem. Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

FOLLOW US

“Every good work inspires me” – Interview with Chizoma Emeka Joshua

“Every good work inspires me” – Interview with Chizoma Emeka Joshua

TABLE TALK

“Every good work inspires me” – Interview with Chizoma Emeka Joshua

This year marks the third edition of Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest and we are super pumped to have a one-on-one chat with the winner of the second edition in the flash fiction category, Chizoma Emeka Joshua.
In 2019, Chizoma was longlisted for the Syncity Anniversary Award, shortlisted for the Zi Prize and finished as the third runner-up in the Sevhage Literary Awards in the short story category. 
In this enthralling interview, Chizoma opens up on his love for storytelling, his reaction to winning the Kreative Diadem contest last year with his epic story, “The House Called Joy”, and his struggle with procrastination.
Enjoy.

Kreative Diadem: Who is Chizoma Emeka Joshua? Let’s meet you!

Chizoma: Hello, I am a fourth-year Law student at the University of Nigeria. I love reading and writing short stories. I am a believer.

Chizoma Emeka Joshua

Winner of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Flash Fiction Category)

KD: When did you first discover your passion for storytelling/writing? What inspired you?

Chizoma: I’m not sure there was an ‘it’ moment when I discovered I loved writing. It was just a necessary fallout (as I think it should be) of my love for reading. As long I can remember I have always loved to read. And I did read a lot growing up because that was my favorite past time. Reading helped me develop a vivid imagination and generated the longing to create something as beautiful as what I read. The desire to contribute to the body of work that currently exists in the world spurred the desire to write. I did actually finish my first short story in 2015.
 

KD: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer? What steps do you take to overcome them?

Chizoma: Procrastination. I put off writing so much sometimes that I lag behind eventually. Sometimes I have two or three stories on my laptop unfinished. There is also the problem of the lack of time. I am a student and with the amount of school work I have, I often do not have the time to devote to writing. It often happens that the times when I manage to overcome procrastination or have some free time I cannot write because the inspiration would be absent.
As a remedy, I try to schedule writing into my plans. I make conscious efforts to see that I write periodically, as often as I can. I sometimes set targets for myself. And of course, competitions also help because they give me a deadline to work towards. Sadly, it is often not enough.

KD: Who are some literary figures that inspire you/you look up to?

Chizoma: I’d like to borrow loosely from what Ologunro said last year to the effect that I am a big fan of any splendidly written work as opposed to being a fan of specific writers. In that sense, I guess my respect goes to the work first, and only spills over to the writer. Every good work inspires me, and there are a lot of them out there. 

” To be less hard on themselves. To savor writing first for the sake of writing despite the awards and competitions because it is the only way to survive in this highly competitive sphere. To make friends with their peers first, and then seek mentors. “

Chizoma Emeka Joshua

Winner of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Flash Fiction Category)

KD: In 2018, you won first prize in the flash fiction category of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest. How did you feel about winning?

Chizoma: Consumed.
It did not seem real for a long time because it all happened so fast. There wasn’t a long list and the space between the shortlist and the announcement wasn’t very long so I didn’t even have the time to process the shortlisting before I got to know I won. Afterward, I felt a mixture of elation and immense pride. It was one of the highlights of my 2018.

KD: Let’s get down to your flash fiction. What was the inspiration behind The House Called Joy? Was there a specific message you intended to pass along to your readers?

Chizoma: I seldom write with the intention of passing any specific message. I just put the stories out there as they come. I grew up in Aba and I always heard of girls who fell pregnant and disappeared and then appeared months later without any babies. It was always hush hush of course. “The House Called Joy” is based on one such story. I remember that the first line to the story kept ringing in my head for weeks and I knew I had to write that story down. Most parts are fiction, but the others are true too.

KD: Apart from winning first prize in the flash fiction contest in 2018, what are some of your other achievements? (Awards, nominations, published works, etc?)

Chizoma: This year I’ve been published on Afreada. I was longlisted for the Syncity Anniversary award and shortlisted for the Zi prize. I also finished third runner up for the Sevhage Literary awards in the short story category.

KD: What are some of your long-term goals as a writer?

Chizoma: I can’t see beyond the immediate future right now regarding my writing. And I guess that is sad, but that is a sadness I can live with, that I have chosen to live with. I do know I will be writing, definitely. This is because of how intimately writing is tied to my person but I doubt if I will ever go beyond that say like publish a book or a collection of short stories. I do have intentions of going into the professional world and I do know that writing (deserves) requires all the time you have. I do think it is possible to combine them both and be excellent at them, however, that is a burden I’m not sure I am willing to take. Of course, I will always be with my first love, reading.

KD: Are you currently working on any books now?

Chizoma: No, unfortunately 

KD: What advice would you give to young writers like yourself, especially in Nigeria?

Chizoma: To be less hard on themselves. To savor writing first for the sake of writing despite the awards and competitions because it is the only way to survive in this highly competitive sphere. To make friends with their peers first, and then seek mentors. To always measure their accomplishments commensurate to how much they know, how much they have experienced and the knowledge available to them. Chances are that if you are diligent then you are right where you are supposed to be. It may not feel like it but that is the truth.

KD: What do you think about Kreative Diadem?

Chizoma: I think you guys are doing a great job. The consistency is also heartwarming. This is one of the (few) spaces that provide incentives for young people to keep on writing.

KD: Any final words?

Chizoma: I’d like to say a very big thank you to Kreative Diadem. For being patient through this entire process and for having me. Cheers to greater strides!

Our second issue ever (published in 2019) Rebel is out. We had enthralling conversations with Frances Ogamba, Caleb Okereke, and Logan February. It is a bouquet of the best thought-provoking pieces you will find out there.

Do you love our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, and essays.

Kreative Diadem

The right to think is the right to write

© 2015 - 2020 Kreative Diadem. Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

FOLLOW US

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