DEAR DIARY IS THE SADDEST THING YOU WILL WRITE ON A LONG QUIET NIGHT by Anthony Okpunor

DEAR DIARY IS THE SADDEST THING YOU WILL WRITE ON A LONG QUIET NIGHT by Anthony Okpunor

a journal and pens

dear diary is the Saddest Thing You Will Write on a Long Quiet Night

by Anthony Okpunor

these days i dine alone. the world

is at the other side, staring through a

wet window. somewhere between we

still do not meet, but for poems.

but for birds that fly into your throat 

when you fall asleep. 

i wrote all of those poems

& made them fly. 

because i’m here, and i want 

to wish you one of

these lone stars. 

the stenographer wrote your

name on the cover page of his

diary, we almost missed it. 

that day all we needed was 

someone to push us into the wind, 

& call us freedom. 

see how glass doors make us

write these sad poems? 

see how rain comes & knows

the softest part of two bodies? 

the rain will remind us of days

& slow dances, how to move lightning 

from a lover’s eyes to their tongue.

today i’m awake and something seams

a rising sun to my window. 

i am sorry we all

die sometime.

let’s make a map of thirst & young. 

let’s see where we stop being thirteen. 

let us tune this body out &

feel the whole world

break free for us. 

the signs will only come for the 

flesh, not us. 

let’s sow our knees

to the hands of a clock. 

why do we only laugh sometimes? 

have you asked why a 

clown will choose your happiness

over theirs?

i want to be a clown &

eat up the butter in your hair. 

call me names, dreams

you try to imagine,

i promise to know you

final notes of the song. 

i will hear of birds hours after

you sing the walls to sleep. 

we can be voyagers, you see. 

i will keep throwing 

stones into a river till

i’m old. 

this way there is a castle

at the bottom of 

the ocean for us. 

there will be sand, salt

and hunger; you being

a soloist filled with 

names of [   ].

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)

dear diary is the Saddest Thing You Will Write on a Long Quiet Night

by Anthony Okpunor | POEMS

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 was shortlisted for the 2019 Nigerian Student Poetry Prize. He was also shortlisted for the SEVHAGE/Angya Poetry Prize 2019. He emerged as winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (poetry category). He was a finalist for the 2020 Palette Spotlight Poetry Award. His works have appeared on online platforms including African Writer, Praxis Magazine and Rattle.

CENTO FOR ISOLATION by Wale Ayinla

CENTO FOR ISOLATION by Wale Ayinla

misty hand pressing against a glass

Cento for Isolation

by Wale Ayinla

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

The way that the sea fails to drown itself every day.

I wake up & it breaks my heart. A return to the strange

idea of continuous living despite the mess of us, the hurt,

the empty. In an effort to get people to look into each other’s

eyes more, we just gather on the balcony & swallow all the silence

until we’re filled with fireflies & sleep.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WALE AYINLA is a Nigerian poet, essayist, and editor. He is a Best of the Net Award and Best New Poets Award nominee, and his works appear or are forthcoming on Palette Poetry, Connotations Press, Waccamaw, Glass Poetry, Existere and elsewhere. He is @Wale_Ayinla on Twitter. He is the founding editor of Dwarts Magazine.

ONCE THIS IS OVER by Seun Lari-Williams

ONCE THIS IS OVER by Seun Lari-Williams

photo of sunflower

Once This Is Over

by Seun Lari-Williams

Once this is over,

I shall run into the arms of each morning

and take in the deepest breath.

My eyes will make friends with birds and flowers

and cars and buildings and clothes.

I will fill my nostrils with the boisterous

smell of bread from the bakeries

in Bavaria.

My teeth will shine brightly at everyone

who looks my way.

I will wave frantically at strangers.

I will give the warmest handshake anyone

has ever known.

My skin will hug the rays of the sun.

When the cold winds come,

it will not complain.

I will dance Bata with the rain. 

I will make the night sky my ceiling

and swim with the moon and the stars.

Once the iron gates are open,

Once these walls are broken,

I will be free again.

I will walk the streets like a

proud king.

 Once this is over,

You will see a new me.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SEUN LARI-WILLIAMS was born in Lagos on 28th April 1987. He is a lawyer, poet, and flutist. His first anthology – Garri for Breakfast, was longlisted for the 2017 NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature. His poem, ‘A Little Violence’, won the second prize in the 2019 Guardian Newspaper Poetry Competition. He is married to his best friend, Feyi and they reside in Munich, Germany where he is a DAAD Scholar for a masters’ degree in intellectual property law.

APOCALYPTO by Rachel Magaji

APOCALYPTO by Rachel Magaji

graveyard

Apocalypto

by Rachel Magaji

blood_ 

in my village, a six-year-old girl became a canvas & her once clear skin was a shrine carved with obscene figurines. sharp machete-like pencils with clear lines cut through her skin like tattoos & she bled crimson flowers. 

 

fire_

the moon & the stars hid their beam & betrayed us. the only glows were yellow embers & black smoke that flew from the structures we called home once. we raced breathlessly into the starless night, embracing the darkness we dreaded. 

 

water_ 

i think my neighbor’s alarm broke again. i didn’t hear their feet dragging languidly. their mother’s sonorous voice & their gruesome banter at the well didn’t permeate my dream. 

‘god must be good,’ i smiled to myself. till i saw their heads and their bodies standing apart. 

 

 how do you hold the ocean in your fist? 

 

spirit_

i was told at seven that the blood of an innocent boy once cried & his murderer got an achilles foot. 

i do not believe ghosts exist anymore, grandpa lied. dead bodies only become dirt & whisk away with the wind. 

earth_

i fear my eyes are 

becoming a reservoir

of cascading water (tears)

& it’s getting harder

to keep it in.           

 

 ‘dust to dust, ashes to ashes’,

the priest reads & hurls a stone to my chest with his tongue (words) & kindles the fire in my nose (burns) & i convulse on the ground beside my brother’s grave. 

 

word_

white: the color of the pristine coat on the pretty woman standing beside my bed. 

 

 ‘what do you remember from last night?’ she asks. 

 

/my lips swear an oath of secrecy/ with my tongue & hides/ the truth in the locket/ dangling in my throat. /she shakes her head in disbelief/ her face white like her coat. / 

/no! like the color of fear/. 

 

how do you master the knife?

you don’t get caught (cut)!

 

a tear escapes my left eye as my mother pushes her broken body (matted in bandage) towards me, eyes sore & swollen. 

 

she smiles weakly ‘one of them was arrested. he’ll be taken to the rehabilitation center’ she says to me.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

RACHEL RABO MAGAJI is a creative writer, digital marketer, and environmentalist from Kaduna State. She’s a graduate of Environmental Management from Kaduna State University, Nigeria. Her literary work has been featured in Hedgerow #130, Haikuniverse, Femku issue 22, SprinNG Literary Movement, Akitsu Quarterly 2020 Summer, The bamboo hut, and Abbyamam’s blog. Connect with her on Instagram (@dr_raeee), Twitter (@rachierabson), and Facebook (Magaji Rachel).

“We must be good stewards of our gifts” – Interview with Alexis Teyie

“We must be good stewards of our gifts” – Interview with Alexis Teyie

Alexis Teyie

“We must be good stewards of our gifts”

– Alexis Teyie

Alexis Teyie is a Kenyan writer and feminist whose works have appeared in Short Story Day Africa (SSDA), Q-zine, Writivism, and several other platforms.

In her recent interview with Kreative Diadem, Teyie discusses mental health during isolation and shares some creative self-care tips for navigating the pandemic.

KD: Alexis, your poems are deeply emotional and thought-provoking, and a reflection of the heart where they were baked. What are the things that make your heart bleed? What makes your blood boil when you write?  

Alexis: Ah (embarrassingly) still impossible to predict. I hate to see a little dying plant with the same intensity I am floored by intentional communities of care. Lately, I watch videos of dogs uniting with their humans to give me an excuse to cry for all the things I can’t bring myself to cry about (for fear I’ll be overwhelmed, or to avoid seeming petty). The world as it is right now is stripping a lot of us to our small, wild naked selves. This is good and hard. I’m trying to teach myself to sit with the questions, and the difficulty and not to hide from the impulse we’re all being called to — to encounter ourselves and the world we’ve un/built. I’m learning that intensity doesn’t always lend itself to writing, or making. I’m consoling myself saying, as Zora Neale Hurston taught; there are years that ask questions and there are years that answer. 2020 is certainly the former for me. I’m sending love to other de/makers out there: it’s alright to be still, alright to be unmoored, and off kilter. We’ll start again tomorrow.

We must be good stewards of our gifts, so yes, it can be excruciating to feel turned inside out in this thorny place, but that’s why community is so powerful and necessary for writers. Let’s take good care of each other.” — Alexis Teyie

KD: In your interview with Konya Shamsrumi, you talked about scripting ‘Water Lilies’ after eight months of writing nothing and highlighted how the poem lifted you from a depressing state: “… properly sick and drowning in the most acute loneliness of my life.” As a creative writer, how do you handle writer’s block?

Alexis: Writer’s block…gah. I don’t handle it per se. I’m trying to take a lot more of myself lightly, gently. [Matsuo] Basho has this lovely poem that I scribbled outside my last flat’s bathroom:

Sitting quietly, doing nothing,

Spring comes, and the grass grows, by itself.

So, I’m repeating to myself: you’re a writer even when you’re not writing. Attending to life, and attending to the world is a form of prayer central to writing as well. And, if I am patient, it is not a punishment to take a step back from this part of the work.

KD: What do you think is the main cause of depression and mental health issues in creative writing circles? 

Alexis: I am in no way placed to answer this in any meaningful way, especially with zero medical training. For myself, I’ve had to unlearn the toxic idea that all creative work is tied fundamentally to mental suffering. You can be healthy — and should work actively to make it so— and a talented, prolific, insightful creator. Certainly, staying open to the world exacts its own violence upon us; numbness allows other people to move more smoothly in some ways through the world. That said, we must be good stewards of our gifts, so yes, it can be excruciating to feel turned inside out in this thorny place, but that’s why community is so powerful and necessary for writers. Let’s take good care of each other.

KD: As the world slowly crawls out of a global pandemic that necessitated a measure of compulsory solitude, do you think there is a connection between isolation and creative work? And can you be open on how you spent the lockdown if at all it was made compulsory in your corner of the world?

Alexis: I’ve been in Nairobi for much of the year, and we’ve had varied degrees of restrictions in place. I’ve spent the time gardening, making tea, on the phone, staring into the sky, haggling with our dog, making elaborate meals for my loves— all in all, a quiet idyllic set up. I, for one, have been glad for the silence (in some ways) the lockdown has re-introduced into my life. I find myself doodling more, journaling more (thanks to Suleika Jaouad!) and reflecting in a less extractive way than before. In some ways, I’ve become more hungry and protective of connection, and the lovely people in my circle during this time, so I wouldn’t fully consider this period one of isolation.  I’m thankful none of my family has been infected, but as someone in the high-risk category, there is an underlying static that’s pervaded my generally mundane day-to-day, and that fear is hard to shake. We keep at it I suppose.

KD: You once described yourself as “anti-colonial,” and one can only imagine your indignation for racism. Do you think there is any form of racism faced by black writers in literary circles and how can these issues be addressed?

Alexis: We do end up haunting ourselves, don’t we?  But yes, I did say that, and still hold fast to that identity. De/Anti-colonial knowledges are so critical and necessary, especially now. I’m doing what I can, in minor ways, to contribute to growing this archive and canon, by excavating all the wonderful out-of-print African writers I can get my hands on. You’ll forgive me if I don’t get into the big and small violences enacted within our literary spaces — which, by the way, intersect with ableism and class and heteropatriarchy. I’ll just remind us of my favourite James Baldwin quote: “We’ve got to be as clear-headed about human beings as possible, because we’re still each other’s only hope.”

KD: What are you working on now? Is it another poetry collection or a pet project?

Alexis: An absurd mix of things: my darling Roseline Olang’ and I have some fun projects in the works (including making art books, publishing, and collecting East African photography); I’m super keen for Down River Road and the exciting projects in the pipeline, including Michael Onsando’s new poetry collection out in October. I’m also finishing up a collection (finally!) currently titled ‘Mountain Graves;’ figuring out how to properly grow coriander; and hoping to take up film photography again. We really must find our own light this year…

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)

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