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.

“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.

“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!

Winners of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest.

Poetry Category

 
Honourable mentions:
 
“The city is my family” by Michael Ifeanyi Akuchie
“What to imagine” by Yusuff Uthman Adekola
 

 

Flash Fiction Category

 
Honourable mentions:
 
“The step breaks your confidence” by Ezinne Okeke
“Souls and Smoke” by Justin Clement

 

Congratulations to the winners!
We had intended to release a list of ten longlisted writers in each genre; however, many of the entries were of poor quality. We look forward to receiving better entries next year.

Winning entries for flash fiction were chosen by TJ Benson, author of ‘We Won’t Fade into Darkness’ (Parresia 2018). The winning poems were selected by Wale Owoade, poet and founding editor of Expound Magazine.

Regarding the flash fiction entries, TJ Benson writes:
“I was looking for fresh stories, stories that were hidden in plain sight every day, remarkable but abandoned. However, the poor writing floored me. So, I decided I would make do with coherence of thought. In that sense, ‘The House Called Joy’ is the most ‘complete’ story.  ‘Souls and smoke’ has a lot of vivid imageries, but the writing wasn’t honest enough, especially the perspective of a suicide bomber’s family. I was lost halfway.
Also, I sought innovation in prose. Chizoma invites you, in his writing, to watch him try to contain a self in a diagnosis and fail. This is true of human life. There is an almost unaware virtuosity in how he links random elements observed by “you”, his first-person singular narrator: ‘…a woman leaning in towards you over the counter to hand you crisp notes, her hair smelling of talcum powder, a baby turning to flash you a dazzling smile right before you do the sign of the cross in church, a newscaster saying that the price of pampers had risen.’”

 

Regarding the poetry entries, Wale Owoade writes:
“The entries are ambitious for an under 21-year old poetry competition. The five shortlisted poets were primarily selected based on their use of imageries and how their techniques connect the reader’s senses to their subjects and objects, a quality that sets them apart from other entrants. However, the winning poems were selected based on the clarity of their expression and poets’ diction. CJ Onyedikachi’s winning poem is a brilliant piece of art, his engaging imageries and contextual diction demonstrate his staunch dedication to his craft. Altogether, most of the entrants to this year’s prize only need a few editorial guidance to write the next best poems from Nigeria. It will be amazing if my contemporaries could create a little time to offer critical guidance and editorial mentorship to younger writers.”
We wish to express our gratitude to our sponsors, the judges, and all the writers who participated in this year’s contest.
The annual contest aims to recognize the best writings from Nigerian writers age 21 and below. The maiden edition which held in 2017 was judged by Sueddie Vershima Agema (Flash Fiction) and Okwudili Nebeolisa (Poetry).

Pin It on Pinterest