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).




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