Winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Here is the highly anticipated list of the winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest. Now in its fifth year, the prize seeks to recognize the best literary works by Nigerian writers aged 21 years and below.

Our guest judges: Ernest Ogunyemi, selected three winners for the poetry category and Jerry Chiemeke picked the top three flash fiction entries.

Here are the winners with comments from the judges:

Poetry Category

Winner: “It is Hope That Keeps the Flame of Dreams Dancing” by Abdulmueed Balogun

There’s a decay in our consciousness—the individual and the national consciousness—a deep and flourishing decay, and there’s a rot in our conscience: this poem reaches and speaks to that decay, it addresses and peels itself away from that rot. Yahoo (also Yahoo Yahoo) is presently at the heart of Nigeria’s popular culture; consequently, the morally upright young person is frustrated at every turn by his peers. Abdulmueed writes:

[Dear God] Gaze upon me—a poet, 

a pilgrim and dust, with your merciful eyes, I do not want to brew my bliss like birds my

 

age who have murdered their conscience with knives of greed, from the core of what you 

ordained profane, I do not crave to oil my harmattan-bitten lips like my peers with my neighbors’

 

oil, while they go to bed with growling stomachs, with bleeding hearts.

This poetry is not marked by a sense of self-morality, however, but is rooted in a God-consciousness, a knowledge of His commandments for the living and how He has put parents in place as landmarks. And though deeply reminiscent of Khalil Gibran’s poetry (The Prophet), the long lines and the cadence of Abdulmueed’s voice kin the man’s, it is the young prophet Jeremiah, speaking of a nation rotten at the very heart, that I hear in a corner of my head when I read this  poem: “I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.”

This poem sings of hope, and it is itself a thing with feathers. It filled me up with joy; I am glad to have encountered it.

First Runner-up: “Elocutio” by Olaitan Junaid

This poem, about grief and friendship, with faith woven into its fabric, sustains its power despite its length, and no word feels out of place. Its careful lineation and a masterful use of // allow for a containment of the overwhelming emotions that want to burst the poem’s seams. This is why it is remarkable; it holds heart-tearing grief so tenderly.

It’s also wonderful how it moves beyond the self and engages other bodies, even a ghost body and the body of the earth: “but o, i keep screaming/ & screaming // subhanallah // when a termite bites // & now /// my tongue // is lost // to grief’s brutal dialect.” In this way, this poem reminds me of J. P. Clark’s succinct ‘Streamside Exchange.’

After reading this poem, it felt like I had taken a walk with the poet in a park, on a warm afternoon, and we’d held hands and he’d touched my face and opened to me a throbbing, bleeding room in his chest. That’s how intimate this poem feels.

Second Runner-up: “Euphemism” by Samuel A. Adeyemi

Samuel A. Adeyemi is one of the few young Nigerian poets whose sense of observation is acute, and who has a language to deliver what he sees in plain yet highly lyrical lines. 

Here is a surreal poem, bone quietly sharp. There’s a death-sharp tissue; by calling a wound a flower an ache could be tapered. Though dark and brutal, in language Adeyemi makes possible a softening of violence, which is just what an euphemism is. The poet thus employs a literary device as the internal driving force of the poem: ‘Euphemism’ itself is a long euphemistic song.

The poet’s deliberateness makes for a gentle and shocking—at the turn of the lines, which are broken with care—read. I am deeply humbled and honoured to be writing at the same time as this poet, and to be able to share this poem!

Honourable mentions:

“Overuse” by Chijindu Terrence James-Ibe

“Sunrise” by Chinedu Gospel

Flash Fiction Category

Winner: “A Matching Pair” by Agbai Emmaterry Chinonso

I like the earnestness with which it was delivered, as well as the buildup, use of active language, and the narrative voice. It’s a nicely-written story on paternity fraud, infidelity, trust and broken bonds. The final three paragraphs pack the punch.

First Runner-up: “And This is How They Become Beautiful” by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

I see potential, and I see what the writer was trying to do by trying to render the narrative from the perspective of the child. It’s poignant, it sheds light on a germane topic, and I like that the end is a little bit open-ended: does the child die??

Second Runner-up: “One Dark Night” by Oloruntobi Ayomikun

“One Dark Night” could have been better written, but it’s not particularly disastrous prose. There is a decent use of dialogue, and the writer manages to build a little tension via the antics of the corrupt, trigger-happy policemen on duty. The prose paints a graphic picture of what it’s like to navigate Nigerian roads, and while there are not many fireworks, Ayomiku manages to tell a coherent story.

Honourable mentions:

“Her Baby” by Ndukwe Uchenna Raphael

Congratulations to the winners!

We are grateful to our guest judges — Ernest Ogunyemi and Jerry Chiemeke– and everyone who sent in their work. Thanks to all our sponsors for their generous donations.

Interviews with the contest winners will be published at a later date.

The maiden edition which held in 2017 was judged by Sueddie Vershima Agema (Flash Fiction) and Okwudili Nebeolisa (Poetry).

 

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

Do you love our published works?

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

AND THIS IS HOW THEY BECOME BEAUTIFUL by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

AND THIS IS HOW THEY BECOME BEAUTIFUL by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

photo of daughter hugs her mother

AND THIS IS HOW THEY BECOME BEAUTIFUL

by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

First Runner-up of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

The boy wants to cry. 

He sniffs in mucus for the umpteenth time, but his mother holds his arm and tells him that he will have to make a choice. He stares into her face, searchingly. Tears stream out of her eyes. And so he turns to his father, but his father stares into space. Hopeless, he turns back to his mother. “I want to stay with both of you,” he drawls.

His mother’s hand finds her face. She sniffs. She says she can no longer tolerate his father, and the boy shudders. But he cannot deny his mother’s words either. They are fact, and his memories are proving it. In recall, his mother’s wails are loud and raw. His father keeps lashing her. The cane in his hand comes down swiftly, eliciting pleas from her. He joins his mother, pleading, pleading. His father barks at him: “Get away from here, asongo!” 

The boy buries his face into his palms. His father might be wicked, but he still loves him. And his mother—ankara-clad, ginger scenting—he can’t part from her—his sweet mother who kisses his forehead and pinches away his nightmares.

He lifts his face. Breath raspy, his mind tears into a whirlwind. His mother’s countenance prods him and the thought that he will have to choose scatters shivers all over his body. He looks onward. The door is ajar. So he gets up suddenly, chest heaving, and bursts through the door. One thought in his head, he runs and runs. Runs through the sandy street. Past houses. Past Madame Ura’s puff-puff stall and takes a turn around the bend. A tarred road ahead of him, people scream. It teems with vehicles whooshing back and forth, but the boy’s body is no longer his own. Before he realizes, a massive force slams into him and he is not on the other side of the road but rolling and rolling over its roughened surface.

 “Jesus, Jesus!”

“Yesu terem ka tor!” 

“Check pulse, check pulse. Is he dead?”

Everything in the boy’s vision blurs. Mind muddled, he can barely decipher what people are saying.  A sharp pain blazes in his ear, but it is becoming mild because he is growing lighter and lighter. When his father and mother arrive, their faces hover over him, he, however, makes out their faces. He smiles. His parents are here with him and all is beautiful. 

He doesn’t have to choose anymore.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba (b.2002) is Nigerian. A 2021 ARTmosterrific artist-in-residence and an alumnus of the 2020 AFRIKA-WRITES PROSE WORKSHOP, his works have found a home in FictionWrit Magazine, The Shallow Tales Review, Arts Lounge, Eboquills and The Muse. He is an Editor at FictionWrit Magazine, wishes to attain the serenity of water, and enjoys watching TK and Carlos kiss. 

EUPHEMISM by Samuel Adeyemi

EUPHEMISM by Samuel Adeyemi

faceless muscular ethnic man grabbing wrist of girlfriend during dispute

EUPHEMISM

by Samuel Adeyemi

Second Runner-up of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

Murder by a scalpel is pronounced death, 

not surgery. There is no intricacy 

 

when the blade drowns in a body, whirling

inside like a wet threading of gut. 

 

Whatever the instrument, do not hesitate

to call your suffering by its name. 

 

It won’t soften it, but it will unshroud the 

mystique. I have stared at my misery 

 

for so long, it seems less oblique. How this

works—the fangs still terrify, but they

 

look just like teeth. The tissue, death-sharp 

yet quite familiar in its whiteness.

 

Our prophets have always been about pre-

tending. They think calling a wound 

 

a flower will taper its ache, sugar the poison

that mars the blood. But the first step

 

to wholeness has always been recognition.

It is a lie that the lie will be

 

the genesis of healing. The greatest miracle 

lies within the same truth we are taught 

 

to abandon. When you stare at the mirror, do

not invert the image. There, your open 

 

chest. Gaze. Is that a nail where your heart 

used to be? Wipe off the honey & tell

 

the wound as it is. Metal organ. Blood rust.

Why must we wait until our suffering 

 

ends before we name it? What happens when 

we are the ones outlived? I have chosen 

 

to resit the ritual of time, to call every bruise 

by its colour. For what is a scar, 

 

if not a wound waiting to become? Come 

unto me. I will show you where I hurt 

on the river’s body. Look. I am touching 

all over the water. 

 

IT IS HOPE THAT KEEPS THE FLAME OF DREAMS DANCING by Balogun Abdulmueed

IT IS HOPE THAT KEEPS THE FLAME OF DREAMS DANCING by Balogun Abdulmueed

low angle view of spiral staircase against black background

IT IS HOPE THAT KEEPS THE FLAME OF DREAMS DANCING

by Abdulmueed Balogun

Winner of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

It is hope that keeps the flame of dreams dancing, even when the wind of forlorn 

throws at it a thousand blow. I have taken my heart to the silvery river, to remove 

 

all traces of greed, what turns futile a century’s strife, to wash away the sticky dusts 

of dissatisfaction, what steels people’s mind to the teachings and admonitions of patience, 

 

what makes them envision the blessings of God as crumbs, as nothing worthy of glorification. 

I see them now, smiling as they wine and dine, as they shroud their nakedness with stolen golds, 

 

though survival is the first rule of nature, and when home fails to be a heaven, it’s only natural 

but not justifiable to breathe by all means. Mother urges, with the clarity of a calm river, son, 

 

don’t hurry the procession of life, take every pace at your pace, that’s divine; don’t be beguiled 

by the fleeting pleasure of the world flashing to your eyes, into hacking the tree of hope in your 

 

mind in the name of survival. Father exhorts, with the voice of a resolute thunder rattling in the 

heart of the sky, when clouds wear darkness as cloak before the rise of dusk, beloved, the world 

 

is brief like a second, spend yours as a harbinger of smile to pallid cheeks, and to your 

neighbors— a bamly river be, soothe their pains, if you can, when they grief and if you can’t, 

 

mope their tears with words of compassion. Dear God, I have come to you as a country ravaged 

by war, as a bird with broken wings, the road of life is coated in riddles and thorns, and only 

those under the parasol of your grace can tread unscathed. Gaze upon me— a poet, 

a pilgrim and dust, with your merciful eyes, I do not want to brew my bliss like birds my

 

age who have murdered their conscience with knives of greed, from the core of what you 

ordained profane, I do not crave to oil my harmattan-bitten lips like my peers with my neighbors’ 

 

oil, while they go to bed with growling stomachs, with bleeding hearts. God, I erect the pillars 

of my dreams in your hands, insure my affairs in your heavenly vault, let your name be praised.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Abdulmueed Balogun is a Nigerian poet & an undergrad at the University of Ibadan. He is a 2021 HUES Foundation Scholar and a Poetry Editor at The Global Youth Review. He was longlisted for the 2021 Ebarcce Prize, Finalist: 2021 Wingless Dreamer Book of Black Poetry Contest, won Honorable mention: 2021 Whispering Crescent Poetry Prize, Shortlisted: BBPC Feb/March 2021 and an alumnus: 2021 SpringNg Writing fellowship. His works are forthcom(in)g: Avalon Literary Review, The Night Heron Barks Review, Salamander Ink, Bowery Gothic, Subnivean Magazine, Jmww Journal, The Remant Archive and anthologized in: Fevers of Mind (Poets of 2020) and 2021 Cathalbui Poetry Competition Selected Entries. He tweets from: AbdmueedA.

Winners of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Here is the highly anticipated list of the winners of the 2020 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest. Now in its fourth year, the prize seeks to recognize the best literary works by Nigerian writers aged 21 years and below.

This year we received 145 poems and 87 flash fiction pieces from which our guest judges: Nome Emeka Patrick, selected three winners for the poetry category and Dr. Arthur Anyaduba picked the top three flash fiction entries.

Here are the winners with comments from the judges:

Poetry Category

Winner: “Hydrology” by Chiwenite Onyekwelu

It wasn’t so hard to choose this poem as the winning poem. Few lines into it, I was pulled deep into Chinwenite’s language, and its responsibility to clarity, and to the way, it paddles his story. Chinwenite’s is a moving poem. Its position is at the threshold of love, a paradigmatic poise of what it means to reach into desire & (re)claim it. Anne Carson writes, “All lovers believe they are inventing love”, & this poem not only moves along the edge of this assertion but also finds a way to embody it in a novel way. In this poem, the reader is made witness to the lover, the beloved, and the passion that burns in the proximity between them. Healing is the core of love, and Chinwenite doesn’t fail to reiterate this in this brilliant poem.

First Runner-up: “She Stared Back at Us with Eyes Closed” by Amarachi Iwuafor

Amarachi’s poem is a poetic monologue, a plunge into mourning that comes with the realization of loss, the acceptance of it, and the constant groping to make sense of it. Here, I kept rereading this poem, & I’m marveled at its simplicity, a subtlety that isn’t really a subtlety, but an attempt at eloquence in the face of grief. By offering us her own version of it, Amarachi seems to be telling us this is how the loss of someone undoes us. And there’s this catharsis that lurks in these lines, “How often we grope for life/ when we are close to death.”, one anyone would immediately be struck with. This is a breathtaking poem! No pun intended.

Second Runner-up: “In the Name of Transcendentals” by Ibe Obasiota Ben

Ibe’s In The Name of Transcendentals is a powerful poem. I am particularly drawn by its voice, the effortlessness at which the lines spill forth, and its originality. I admire how this poem seems to interrogate the idea of death and grief and the ‘others’, how it orbits around these subjects with grace and simplicity. This is a great poem.

Honourable mentions:

“Melody of Anarchy” by Ajani Samuel Victor

“This Thing Called Death” by Blessing Anaso

“in which my dead grandfather calls yet again through the mouth of a door” by Mayowa Oyewale

“Grieving, my body feels like laughter caught young in its youth” by Chukwu Emmanuel

Flash Fiction Category

Dr. Arthur Anyaduba writes: “These stories are the products of supremely talented writers who clearly understand the foibles and the intimate struggles of living and experiencing life. These writers have mastered the art of making storytelling into an affective experience. The stories are also quintessentially ‘Nigerian’ in their imaginative worlds, their sounds, and the manifold experiences that they tell powerfully.

“What I found most curious about all the stories is that even in their varied forms and concerns they tell about similar experiences and situations provoking similar kinds of emotions: childhood trauma and abuse, the angst of loss and pain, and the complexities of human relationships. The quality of writing and the depth of imagination of these stories are incredible. There’s always that strange feeling of self scorn that I get each time I ‘judge’ a story to determine its worth, its rating in relation to others, its strengths, and whatnot. But these stories have all refused to be judged.

“Each one of them that I read left me confounded and lost in its storied world. I found myself unable to judge, to assess, to rank the stories. Instead, the stories forced me to think and to feel. The victory of these stories over me was that they took me in without my recognizing how deep; they made me look at experiences more closely, more intimately, until I was no longer able to pronounce a judgement.”

Winner: “Sing About Me I’m Dying of Thirst” by Daniel Ogba

First Runner-up: “A Feeling of No Name” by Chiamaka Ejiofor

Second Runner-up: “This Too Shall Pass” by Jesutomisin Ipinmoye

Honourable mentions:

“Moments Before We Die” by Yvonne Nezianya

“May My Words Be Taken to You” by Sobur Adedokun

“Verses of Silence” by Timi Sanni      

 “Fluttering Hope” by Miracle Chidera Odigwe                                   

Congratulations to the winners!

We are grateful to our guest judges — Nome Emeka Patrick and Dr. Arthur Anyaduba — and everyone who sent in their work. Thanks to all our sponsors for their generous donations. 

Interviews with the contest winners will be published at a later date.

The maiden edition which held in 2017 was judged by Sueddie Vershima Agema (Flash Fiction) and Okwudili Nebeolisa (Poetry).

 

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

Do you love our published works?

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

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