dried leaves on a concrete pavement


by Blessing Anaso

I was twelve when I first saw it,

Cells fat and pink, the colour of cancer,

I saw its fingers in Ma’s falling hair and in her brave smile.

Like the sharp scent of disinfectant—angry and relentless.


I smelled death on Pa’s clothes,

In his anti-depression pills and on his thinning hair.

Later, I smelled it in Pa’s study, hanging from the ceiling,

Fists clenched in rigor mortis—blind and bloated.


I heard it in Bebe’s blood pressure,

In the rheumatic pop of her aged knees,

I heard it in the tired sigh of a year too many,

It came in her sleep—ripe but sudden.


This thing called death, I feel it now,

In my husband’s tight grip and midnight sobs,

I see it in my left breast and in my daughter’s uncertain eyes,

I smell it in the rustle of hospital sheets,

And taste it in my bloody vomit.


Small but enough

Like the soft hiss at the end of a kiss.


Blessing Anaso is a student and creative writer living in Nigeria, occasionally known to dabble in dark poetry.

Her work ‘Halima’ was selected for the AU_CIEFFA’s girl-child education campaign, published on their website.

Her poem ‘The Demons You Name’ also placed fourth place in the Kito Diaries ‘#QueerLivesMatter’ competition.

She writes short stories in her spare time.



Soldiers on queue ready to board an airplane with a glistening sunset in the horizon


by Ajani Samuel

Shortlist (Top Seven) of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

Our land is Atacama desert for

The past two weeks

Yesterday, I met my brother praying

For rain under our stairs

So last night, it rained.

It rained bullets and gunpowder

On a swarm of youths who wore

The national anthem on their lips.


Death robed in the green of military men

It sat with a long fork in a toll

In the throats, lungs

And bowels of men and women who drew

Peace on their jaws.


My dinner was served on a plate of

Bloodbathed national flag

So I ate my tears with a sandwich of

Carnage on mat last night.

Thanks to God, Satan woke me

And others with the

Melody of guns at 5:30 am.


News at 10 is a song of the dead

Our Government is crashing cymbals

Of anarchy on the streets

The sun refused to glitter today

Perhaps it went to petition our

President to address the nation.



Ajani Samuel Victor is a creative writer, (performance) poet and political enthusiast. He was a Semi-finalist at the 2020 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Writing contest. He is a writer at the Invincible Quill Magazine, his works are/forthcoming on FeralLit Journal, Ethelzine, Eboquills Mag, MadnessMuse Press, Praxis mag, The Hellebore lit mag, FEED litmag and everywhere else. Say hi to him on Twitter @solvic16



a pen in a black background

Aishat Abiri’s Note on Craft

As part of the Notes On Craft series, I (Olakunle Ologunro) reached out to a number of writers and asked them to share a piece of work that is most significant to them, and what they think other writers can learn from it.

Here’s Aishat Abiri’s pick: White Teeth by Zadie Smith

The first time I read White Teeth, I must admit, my admiration for Zadie’s writing was mixed with a degree of indignation. Because why should you as an author have so much fun writing a book? I went on to read On Beauty and The Autograph Man and soon became a huge fan of Zadie’s work.

As a writer, my biggest challenge initially was writing in the third person; whenever I wrote in the third person, it felt detached with zero emotional stakes. It felt empty. I had concluded that writing in the third person was not for me so I stuck to writing in the first person with an occasional piece in the second person. For White Teeth, I know that I learned to write in the third person from that book. For me, it’s a textbook of sortsa fun and extremely enjoyable one. I learned to also enjoy the story, even as the teller of it. 

When one reads White Teeth, the first thing that strikes the reader is the persiflage she wields so effortlessly in her narration; how comfortable she is with teasing her characters, finding amusement in their predicaments, like a mother who is all too familiar with her children’s nakedness to the point of see finish.

“Below him on the pavement stood Varin—a massively overweight Hindu boy on a misjudged traineeship program from the school round the corner, looking up like a big dejected blob underneath Mo’s question mark.”

“Maybe he should have left with her right then, run to the hills. But at the time it seemed impossible, too involved, what with a young wife with one in the oven (an hysterical, fictional pregnancy, as it turned out, a big bump full of hot air), what with his game leg, what with the lack of hills.”

I believe this ease of humour stems from a degree of confidence in 1) Her story and 2) Her audience that makes her relaxed. Of course, this degree of confidence comes from practice, from telling and retelling stories, from reading other people’s work and paying attention to detailwhat the author was trying to do, what worked or didn’t. 

Like me, I think other writers can learn to relax in the stories they tell, to find enjoyment in storytelling because if you enjoy telling a story, how much more would the reader enjoy reading?


Aishat Abiri is a writer with a passion for issues concerning gender, politics, sexuality, and mental health. Her short stories have been featured in Afreada, Saraba, and the Aké Review. She has written screenplays for Tinsel and ‘In Love and Ashes.’ She lives in Abuja and is a Farafina 2016 alumnus.




Notes on Craft: On Language and Clarity

by Olakunle Ologunro

Hey there,

If this is your first time reading this letter, you can flashback to the previous letters in the series here.

The letter for this week (or month, seeing how very irregular and inconsistent I am 🥴) is about language and clarity, and how these two things work to improve the quality of your writing.


In my final year of university, I had the privilege of reading the works of some students at other levels. Many of them were freshers trying their hands at prose writing so they could hone their skills. Some of the stories had potential, but there was a major barrier preventing this potential from shining through. That barrier was language.

Language, to me, is the vehicle a story travels in. It is the microphone that amplifies the story, the colour that animates everything. And this is why it is important for you to get it right. The use of language in the freshers’ stories came from a place to impress– at least that was what it read like to me. They used too many ‘big’ words, a lot of which took up space but added nothing to the story as a whole. They were clunky, mismatched, and useless, and instead of displaying their mastery of language, it revealed their tumultuous relationship with language.

Simplicity and clarity is a sign of mastery in language. It shows that you are able to communicate effectively, express yourself in the story and give your characters room to do the same. This is what I strive for in my stories, what I think you as a writer should strive for too. Each time I sit down to write, I wonder, “How best can I tell this story?” I make myself the reader because I believe that if I am able to understand and communicate my intentions in the story, I have solved a major problem.

“Anyone who wants to become a writer should be vigorous, direct, simple, and lucid.” That’s a quote from Henry Watson Fowler. But then, to do this, what are the basics?

First of all, don’t use ‘big words’ where a simple one will do. Buy instead of purchase. That is, in a situation where a simpler word or sentence can achieve the desired effect, choose it. Yes, the big word looks fancy, interesting, but will it add to the story’s flow or take away from it? That’s one thing to always consider.

Another thing to keep in mind is that clarity also matters in the story before anything. Language can be as clear as day, but if the story itself is unclear, only little can be done to salvage it.

Do not attempt to impress a perceived ‘judge’ because you assume that a certain type of writing is not fancy enough for them. Don’t assume to know what they will like or dislike. You cannot know, really. So, when you enter for a competition or simply write to submit it, do not choose intentionally complex vocabulary. Do not be deliberately unclear, unless that is what you are going for. Simply tell the story that feels like you. Let it be in a language you are familiar with.

Read. This cannot be overemphasized. What stories do you like? What strikes you in their use of language? Study the people who have gone before you. It is one of the best ways to learn. 

As I write this, “Conference” by Naja Marie Aidt is the story that comes to my mind. The simplicity was what struck me on my first encounter with it. How the language worked to simplify the prose rather than complicate it. Such a level of simplicity is what I aspire to and what I hope to transcend. I think you should do the same. Language can comfort, enrage, arouse, disgust, and do many things to the reader. But only when it is applied simply.

I’ll end with this paragraph from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s conversation with Zadie Smith on writing, relationship, etc.

“Clarity’s important to me. I forget who said that ‘Prose should be as clear as a windowpane.’ I’m very much in that school, and it’s the kind of fiction I like to read. The kind of writing that I like to read is writing that is clear. I think it’s very easy to confuse something that’s badly written as something that’s somehow deep. If something is incomprehensible and the sentences are bad, we’re supposed to say, ‘Oh that’s really deep.’ It’s not the kind of fiction I like to read, so I guess maybe when I’m editing I’m thinking about that. I’m thinking that the sentences I really admire are sentences that are lucid.” 

Listen to the full podcast here.

What are you reading? More importantly, what are you writing? How is it coming along?

For me, I reached out to a number of writers and asked them to share a piece of work most significant to them, and what they think other writers can learn from it. Over the coming weeks, I’ll share each letter with you.

Don’t stop writing.

All my love.



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 Dancan Wachira from Pexels





“It’s Universal law that whatever you focus on expands” – Interview with Chiwenite Onyekwelu

“It’s Universal law that whatever you focus on expands” – Interview with Chiwenite Onyekwelu

Chiwenite Onyekwelu


It’s Universal law that whatever you focus on expands” – Interview with Chiwenite Onyekwelu

In anticipation of the fifth edition of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest, we share this interview with Chiwenite Onyekwelu, last year’s poetry winner.

Chiwenite Onyekwelu is a poet. His works have appeared on Rough Cut Press, America Magazine, Cultural Weekly, Isele, etc. He was a finalist of the 2021 New York Encounter Poetry Contest, winner of the 2020 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize, runner up of the Foley Poetry Prize 2020, as well as the winner of both the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Writing Contest (Poetry Category) and the Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize 2019. He studies Pharmacy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University where he also serves as Assistant Editor-in-Chief (Agulu Campus).

Kreative Diadem: Who is Chiwenite? Tell us briefly about yourself.

Chiwenite: I’m a poet, essayist, editor, poetry co-teacher at the Threposs Learn, and undergraduate of Pharmacy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.

Chiwenite Onyekwelu

Chiwenite Onyekwelu

Winner of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Poetry Category)

KD: When did you first discover your passion for writing and what inspired you?

Chiwenite: Discovering my passion for writing can be traced back to when I was small. I remember writing several clumsy stories when I was in primary five. But it was not until my last few months in secondary school, that I began to think that maybe I should actually be more deliberate and take writing a little seriously.

When I wrote my earliest stories as a kid, it wasn’t because I felt I could do it. At that time, I was suffering from anxiety because of my first pedophilia experience. And because I was so scared to verbally narrate what had happened to anyone, writing offered an escape route, however temporary. I began with keeping small notes that I never let anyone else find. Now, when I think about your question, I want to say that it might have been that first pedophilia experience that inspired my writing.

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

Chiwenite: My greatest challenge at the moment is the inadequacy of time. To think that I have a lot I want to write about, yet half the time, I have my head flattened under the weight of Pharmacy and all that comes with studying it. This is not to say that I don’t love what I’m doing here in Pharmacy School. But I’m just boxed up at a spot where one thing I love is struggling so hard to swallow up another thing I also love. To overcome this, however, I have given up most part of my leisure time. When I’m not busy with schoolwork, I’m almost always writing.

Another challenge, I must say, is in the area of improving my writing skill. As an emerging writer, there is still so much to learn. But then, the problem is ‘who’s willing to teach?’ The few available writing classes here cost quite a bulk, and we all know what that means. So the majority of us emerging writers have resorted to self-teaching, which is such an exerting, trial-and-error method of learning to write.

I know Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is doing great with the Purple Hibiscus Writing Workshop. The Tampered Writing Workshop and also the SprinNg Writing Fellowship have all been helpful to writers at the grassroots. But I feel this challenge exists especially because here we do not have more already-established writers doing stuffs like these.

KD: What are some literary figures that inspire you and your work?

Chiwenite: The term “literary figures” seems to elude me of its exact meaning. But if you meant the writers who have inspired my writing the most, then it would be arduous to name them all, particularly because at every point in time, I have a “new” writer whose work I feel drawn to. Recently, I have found inspiration in the works of Momtaza Mehri, Cathy Linh Che, Theresa Lola, I.S. Jones, Danez Smith, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Romeo Origun, Hala Alyan, Akwaeke Emezi, Bryan Byrdlong, Nneka Arimah and so many others.

It’s Universal law that whatever you focus on expands…Write, even if nothing seems to be improving or the rejections keep coming.”

KD: Last year, you won first prize in the poetry category of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest. What was your reaction like?

Chiwenite: I felt very excited. Being on the 2019 Kreative Diadem shortlist (poetry) taught me to believe in myself. So, when I was announced first prize winner for 2020, I was like “oh-boy, we’re really really getting somewhere!”.

KD: What was the inspiration and meaning behind your winning poem: Hydrology?

Chiwenite: Hydrology was inspired by a personal experience. Before now, I lived as though I was underwater. Like I was drowning under the heft of my childhood, and however I tried to step unto the shores, there were always some memories that wouldn’t let me.

So for me, the poem was a kind of catharsis. It was my first big leap towards healing. The poem tells the story of a boy who was once fragile and untouched until something happened. I do not know how to go further from here, but that is all the meaning behind Hydrology.

KD: Do you have any other published works aside from Hydrology, as well as any other achievements you’d like to share?

Chiwenite: Some of my most recent poems can be found on Rough Cut Press, Cultural Weekly, and on America Magazine. And my most recent recognitions include emerging as a finalist in the 2021 New York Encounter Poetry Prize, winning first prize in the 2020 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize, and emerging as a runner-up for the Foley Poetry Prize 2020.

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

Chiwenite: I have to start working on a poetry chapbook any time from now, then maybe on a Collection afterwards. It is also my dream to get an MFA in Poetry much later in the future, and more than anything, to give back as much as I have received.

KD: Any forthcoming works or publications?

Chiwenite: No, not yet. Still waiting for editors’ responses.

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

Chiwenite: I too need that advice. But let me say this quickly: there is no magic recipe for writing. However, some of the two most effective strategies in becoming better are reading and consistency in writing. It’s Universal law that whatever you focus on expands. So read widely, especially contemporary works, then try out new styles and avoid limiting yourself to a particular theme. Write, even if nothing seems to be improving or the rejections keep coming.

Any final words for Kreative Diadem and its readers?

Chiwenite: Thanks to Kreative Diadem for everything it’s doing to help writers. Her readers, no doubt, are in very good hands.

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