15-20 minutes read.
Weeks after the call for submission, which was closed on the 15st of July, 2018, ACEworld releases a 6-man shortlist for the contest. The theme is Anarchi, preserving individual freedom. Below are the selected poems and the judge’s analysis.
ME, FELA AND THE DIRTY SKULL (OR THE SOUND OF A REVOLUTION SO THREATENING YOU JUST MIGHT KILL ME BEFORE I BRING IT TO PASS, BECAUSE YOU LOWLY NIGGERS HAVE BECOME THE WHITE MAN’S LITTLE, SILENT BITCH, HAVEN’T YOU?)
.i’d like to set my people aflame someday [to see if we burn as well as we b-r-e-a-K]
,our clan needs a fucking messiah___a holy baptism of fire [send me, Afrobeat lord]
!let me scorch the foreign off their tongues [a rainbow is trapped in their mouths]
& turn their bleached bodies into burnt offering [to white gods with a fetish for black bodies]
!oh i can smell it already___it turns me on [their terror & noise as they beg for mercy]
,when they burn to death___i will bring out Oodua’s dirty skull [for the sacrifice]
& pray that the song of moonlight be returned to the body that’s losing its night
.only then [if all goes right] will niggers become their own gods, with such sweet haloes
.thISisThe’song-of’a[d]ead_man .make of that what you will
Kanyinsola’s artistic representation of Anarchi is a remarkable engagement. He demonstrates a clear understanding of the expectation of the contest and explores such understanding through poetic deconstruction. His choice of language is clearly vulgar, deriding religious reference, “fucking messiah”,while effectively exploring intertextuality – reference to Fela and Christian values. The poet mocks traditional ways of life, “Oodua’sdrity skull”, even though he prefers it to the “white gods with a fetish for black bodies.” Perhaps, of great importance is the form and style adopted by the poet to drive disregard for any form of standard or institutionalized control. The title of his poem sets the tone for a larger than others persona, one who is confrontational and sarcastic of “niggers” who are better of as “silent bitch”. Here, the poet is not ashamed to attack gullible acceptance of foreign superiority and uses the right language to foreground his disdain. The beauty of this poem lies in how the poet demonstrates the conflict between social conformance and the individual freedom, hoping that “niggers become their own gods.” The poem evokes strong emotions of anger, frustration and chaotic appetite for damnation – “i’d like to set my people aflame someday”, such emotions reach orgasmic crescendo as the smell of the “bleached bodies” of his people “turns” him “on”. This subtle connotation of violence and sexual pleasure unveils the conflict between suppression of sexual desires and the expulsion of sexual fantasy often socially aversive and sadistic.
Kanyinsola Olorunnisola is a poet, essayist & writer of fiction. His work interrogates anxiety, broken lineage, insanity, grief, existential torment & the black body as a warfront – things typical happy people write about.
His nightmares have appeared in Bodega, BrittlePaper, Kalahari Review, Bombay Review, Lunaris Review, African Writer, Sprinng.org, Bird’s Thumb, Gyroscope Review & elsewhere. He is the founder of the SPRINNG Literary Movement.
He won the 2016 Albert Jungers Poetry Prize, Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest and the 2017 Fisayo Soyombo Inter-varsity Essay Competition. His debut chapbook, “In My Country, We’re All Crossdressers” was published in 2018, courtesy of Praxis.
the godliness of lust
all he sees are the sins he’ll never commit.
And often he says a prayer to her name:
always the right prayer, the wrong god.
perhaps you can teach a man to be godly,
if your god is the picture of a porn star,
sitting naked on a throne in the clouds,
legs spread out wide like an open bible,
& lips asking if he wants a taste of heaven.
perhaps this is how you also teach a man,
to worship the obelisk between his thighs.
Dhee’sconcise poem, a smooth blend of prose and poetry, queries the religious docility surrounding human nature of lust. Exploring oxymoron in the title of the poem, the poet deconstructs the popular belief (or misbelief) that lust, a natural trait of humanity, is ungodly. He scores a strong religious point by using religion against itself: “godliness of lust”. In doing this, the poet is ridiculing the very foundation on which religion is built, the concept of “god”. To reinforce this, the poem opens with an observation of condemnation –“all he sees are the sins he’ll never commit.” This line foregrounds how religion makes individuals incapable of their humanity, of the need to express what is possible. A perfect twist is introduced in the following line as the poet mocks the identity of “god”, a reference to the feminist clamor for feminization of god.The poem heightens as the poet suggests the identity of the right god to whom the persona needs to pray: “if your god is the picture of a porn star”. A bold attack on religion and suppression of sexual needs. The introduction of a “porn star” brings a different dimension to the poem: an argument that sexual exploration is a spiritual feat, a necessity that must be imbibed through the same religious indoctrination. The imagery of an “open bible” used as a simile for “legs spread out wide” creates a fluid profanity of a sacred religious ritual. Here the poet is making the reader see the connection between sexual exploration and religious responsibility – and the need to be open to new experiences. The climax of the poem celebrates the individual choice of sexual preference. Not only has the poet demonstrated that religion is sex in a way, the poet argues that a man should learn to “worship the obelisk between his thighs”, which partly suggests that man’s sexual desires should be his religion, and also hints at a favorable disposition to homosexuality.
Dhee Sylvester is a recluse living in a part of Lagos only few Lagosians have heard about. He’s the author of From Man To God, the co-author of Two Shades Of Crazy, and has been a part of four literary anthologies. His poetry and short stories have been published in print and online, and he’s a screenwriter fascinated by psychopaths.
Nzere Chinedu Herbert
teach me how to love
how to travel her frame like a bumpy ride.
foreplays are for boys,
so i’ll rip her heart to shreds,
fuck her feelings, till she cums to bemoan love.
i’ll watch her melt into a dirge,
tomorrow i’ll tell her how i love to lie to her,
how her body is the only song i know.
if this is not love,
then teach me how to love.
Chinedu’s poem is a remarkable effort at redefining love. Through evocative imagery and aggressive language, the poet attacks feminist ideals about the female’s identity by objectifying “her” as a frame meant to be rough ridden, “How to travel her frame like a bumpy ride”. Heterosexual love oftenhas been treated as a sacred commitment to the female in such a filial relationship. As a twist, the poet shows that boys should be the center of love, while girls are just tools to satisfy their needs. Since “foreplays are for boys”, the poet foregrounds the element of “play”, a metaphor for masculine dominance and fantasy of the female sex, the act of love should be an extreme exploitation of her feelings, hence the intent “to rip her heart to shreds” and “fuck her” till “she cums to bemoan love”. The use of coarse and vulgar languageheightens theemotional violation central to the poem – a strong desire to see that the object of sexual fantasy is fully aware of the new meaning of sex and watch her “melt into a dirge”, a gradual acceptance of hopelessness, helplessness and victimization. It is a deliberate recreation of the female gender as one to crave the extremity of demeaning sex, typical of masochism, while celebrating male sadismIt is important to note that the poet is not only defining love in a novel way, he is questioning the conventional understanding of love – which often is synonymous with sacrifice and self-humiliating acceptance of the other person as the subject of affection and adoration, at the expense of the one in love.The beauty of this poem lies in its ability to tear down social understanding of love, celebrate masochist-sadistic relationship as the new meaning of love, and the brazen boldness with which the persona tells his victim of how to be loved.
Nzere Chinedu Herbert is an Accounting student of the National Open University(NOUN), a Poet, a writer and a Caterer. The Lagos based Poet has quite a number of works to his name. Poems like; How I Murdered Five Girls, 69 Alphabets, Boys Who Want Love and How To Find Love which won him the prize of the 2018 Poetry And Prose Hood Valentine Competition, to mention but a few.
He gets his inspiration from live and love.
CITIES OF FIREFLIES
I am a bird in the middle of nowhere, a map clinged under my wings;
Building nest where my lover’s body is a portrait of flowers.
A preacher man says hell is my kind of home
Because i’m a man, wrapping another man’s body in scarlet silk.
Yet, I drop the bible in the flame, and walk my lover off the face of God.
And when we kiss, our heads become cities of fireflies.
But in my country, you can boycott the law, not the lynch of the mob.
Now, I am on transit seeking survival, my lover name buried in my veins.
Because here, i’m far from being myself.
Perhaps someday, i will be somewhere I can be God, a full moon, and the government of my own life.
Inegite’spoem is a sharp rebuke of heterosexual love as esteemed as the only way to love. The poet begins his attack on traditional definition of love popularized by a suppressive religion, demonstrating how individual freedom is trapped in nothingness, “I am a bird in the middle of nowhere”. The internal conflict of loving who he chooses to love is intensified as the judgment of hell is handed over to him, “A preacher man says hell is my kind of home.” The defiance to choose love, to build a nest where the “lover’s body is a portrait of flowers” has led to irreligiosity and confrontation with the object of religious worship: “Yet, I drop the bible in the flame, and walk my lover off the face of God”. This line introduces a common trend between homosexuality and atheism. Here, the persona argues that a sense of religious observance that does not promote personal preference of love cannot coexist, a much darker reflection of religious people who desperately juxtapose their sexuality with religiosity. Dropping the bible into flame is an act of desecration of the Christian faith, a demonstration that the persona has no more faith in his faith; the ultimate beatification of personal freedom. However, while it is easy to attack one’s faith and “drop the bible in the flame”, the poet doesshy away from the “lynch of the mob” that comes with such homosexual expression. As a result, the poet longs for a time to be his own version of God. While this poem uses irreverent language, the submission of the individual will to law and the fear of the mob shows that the persona is not willing to dare society as he has dared religion or God.
Inegite Trust is a Public Administration student at The Polytechnic, Ibadan with strong and undying passion for poetry.
Her’s written poems ranging from science, to adventure, to lust, love and so many other areas of art. He’s a poet with a perfect definition of versatility.
He lives and writes from Ibadan, Nigeria.
I was conceived on a chaste forte
Of homely manners and inhibitions
I abide by stiffling creed of distraught
As my eros curbed by stiff admonitions
Why not let loose my prurience
On a trip of shattering but sweet penising
Of these willing and lush orifices?
Let us abuse and defile culture tonight
Before he labels me an outlaw;rapist
And lost in warm thrusts of delight!
Tinuoye’s poem is a dichotomy between conformance with social mores and the quest for self-expression. The persona reveals that he is brought up to be chaste but lives in constant denial of his humanity and sexuality. It is not unusual to find sexual suppression as an integral motif in religion and morally puritanistic behavior modification. The battle between individual freedom and social confinement often leads to the individual being branded an “outlaw”, and in some cases a “rapist” – used connotatively as violating dominating culture and values. One can argue that people who find themselves in “despicable” sexual acts are sometimes products of denied normal sexual expression, people who, in a way to be free of the suppressed humanity, often find themselves engage in sexual acts which are considered antisocial. To avoid such unfortunate sexual misbehaviors, the persona advocates for an abuse of a system that has suppressed “willing and lush orifices” who delight in the thrusts of a “sweet penising”. This poem celebrates anarchy by calling for an end of a culture that suppresses human needs and promoting sexual exploration.
I am a kwaran in my late 20’s and an art enthusiast;basically writing. I am currently an undergraduate student of National Open University, Nigeria. I had my national diploma in mass communication from a northern polytechnic few years ago. I am a poet who appreciate modesty,creativity and relaxed intellection in sane clime.
The Liturgy of Grief
I sing that the ones gone before may hear me,
For their wisdom to guide me,
For the day a boy like me would say he loves me,
That he finds his salvation in my body,
And my broken skin shall melt in his arms,
My resolve; melting wax!
My pupils, picking up the colours of the rainbow,
The aftertaste of him, my morbid testament.
Eze’s poem describes the internal conflict experienced by young boys who have romantic feelings for same sex. The persona nurses nostalgia for those gone before him to guide him in his quest for love – an apparent reference to same sex lovers whose fates in the hand of a hateful society serve as a warning, may be wisdom, for him to choose carefully. The persona does not shy away from the impending danger of his choice, but the longing in him “for a day a boy” like him “would say he loves” him is stronger than the damnation he is likely going to face, even as his “broken skin shall melt in his arms”. Though the persona realizes that his resolve is a “melting wax”, but the defiance to face his “morbid testament” is a celebration of the human will in the face of societal suppression.
Eze Ossai is a writer and graphics designer. His works have appeared on Praxis Magazine, Ace World and Agog.ng. In 2013, he was shortlisted for the finals of NEGO poetry corner contest. He has an undying love for art and all its beautiful manifestations.
Winner to be announced on the 31st of August, 2018.