We would like to thank everyone who participated in the 2023 SprinNG Annual Poetry Contest. This year, we received 2116 submissions, and we are grateful to all participants for trusting us with their impressive pieces.
Most importantly, we thank our judges: Bryan O. Okwesili, Abdulkareem Abdulkareem, Omolola Okunlola, Adamu Yahuza, Taiwo Hassan, and Modester C. Alo for their hard work, thoroughness, and commitment to the judging and selection process.
Above all, we heartily congratulate the winner, Adedoyin Kayode Olamide, and the runner-ups: Okafor Michael Onyebuchi (first runner-up) and Chinemerem Prince Nwankwo (second runner-up).
We also celebrate the selected notable mentions: Fasasi Ridwan and Glomygia Orji.
To Ascend is to First Fall by Adedoyin Kayode Olamide
Everything falls to fly. a boy throws himself off a cliff to give wings to his soul. Here, nothing is lighter than God's breath, even my mother's prayer carry so much weight—it falls back to her chest. I come from a lineage where to fall is to be liberated & to be liberated is to pour oneself into the perforated hands of the wind. The last time I asked about my father, mother says, he crashed like a plane. I should tell you, history has a way of repeating itself—falling from heights that nest birds is not strange. a name is how our feet fit into our ancestral shoe? I became conscious of my ruin the day I cautiously dissected my name: O-lu-wa-gbe-n-ga—which could mean God, take me to the pinnacle. Again, I find myself following the direction of a voice to the peak of a temple. God! Is that you?
Adedoyin Kayode is a Nigerian writer, safety officer, and music enthusiast. He is a member of the Frontier collective. His poem was shortlisted for the African Writers' lockdown challenge 2020. His poems have been published in Libretto, Madness Muse Press, Olney, Poemify, Mag 20/20, and elsewhere.
He tweets @adedoyinkayod12.
Self-Portrait As A Body At War With Himself by Okafor Michael Onyebuchi
& I go to war with myself in search of peace.
In my body a boy is falling into grief--
a divorced poem anchoring pain in his stomach.
I like to imagine peace to be the colour of euphoria
knifing me into brittle oceans.
Say, war is my footprints tracing itself into self-exile,
or a child seeking asylum in the unburial of his mother's pain.
Say, peace is the stillness that aches the memory of a lover,
would you unbend me into a cloudless sky?
Okafor Michael is a nocturnal empath whose life revolves around writing, mysticism, rain, and music. He is currently a member of the Nwokike Literary Club University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, and an undergraduate student of the Department of Medical Radiography at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. He is a fellow of The SprinNG Writing Fellowship (7th cohort).
His works explore diverse themes and have appeared or are forthcoming in Writers Space Africa, The Borderline Review, Shuzia Magazine, Riverbed Review, and elsewhere. He writes from Enugu, Nigeria. You can connect with him on Instagram @okaformichael0808 and Twitter @OkaforMichael_.
The Language of Dismay Betwixt My Thigh by Chinemerem Prince Nwankwo
& I locked up myself before my blood. My shivering feet calligraphed the language of dismay betwixt my thigh. The sensation of death in dotted impulses ran through my body. Should I call unto my brother or unto my father? Or telephone the grave of my mother? that the woman beneath me oozes out blood without volition and the irritation in my perineum is a fragrance not to behold. I thought of myself as porous as cancer and permeable as virus. The shame of womanhood befell me and I died a mental death. I didn’t understand if I’ll live for long with the aching contraction of muscles within the walls of my uterus. I wailed. I tried to brawl it. I finished the tissues. I tried. I stuck the stockings. I tried. I embalmed my dying hope with swatches of fabrics around this strangeness. I tried. But the red is the colour beneath me that leaves me sore and damp.
Chinemerem Prince Nwankwo is currently an undergraduate of History and International Studies, University of Uyo, Uyo, Nigeria. At the University, he serves as the Ethics and Membership Chair of the Rotaract Club and a member of the Uyo Book Club. He loves to read and write about Africa, women, and children.
If not found buried in books, he takes pleasure in meditation, prayer walks, and seeing movies. Say hello @ FB, CP Nwankwo.
notable mention - semifinalist
Another Walk Into A Nightmare by Fasasi Ridwan
It's another night & the birds are passing through the silence to break the darkness of the night. A nightingale drops beside my windows singing every memory of you into my head. You appear pruning wings in a dark home. & your body sinks into an ocean of lost glories. The nightingale takes flight towards the trees & comes back crashing to the ground, struggling to keep its breath intact. Is this how dreams coup against the body of its owner? Yesternight, at the masjid, I stretched my hands to move God's ear closer to my mouth, that I may whisper my prayers to him: God, let the moon find space in the eyes of a lonely boy; God, give a boy space to hang his grief. & I fell into a trance, a dream sailing me to you like a boat, your feet struggling with the tides of the ocean. I step into the water & my prayers fall back onto my tongue.
Fasasi Ridwan is an emerging poet born and bred in Kaiama, Kwara State, Nigeria. He is a 400-level of faculty of Agriculture, UDUS. He is a member of The Poetry Club UDUS & also, Book O Clock UDUS.
He is published in synchronized chaos and Kalahari Review. He can be reached on Facebook @Ibn Yushau & he tweets @Ibn_yushau44.
NOTABLE MENTION - SEMIFINALIST
Devouring Sorrow by Glomygia Orji
Watch me /eat my pain,
like a mother swallows /her child.
I have learned what it means
to be /numb
to lick the blood /off my fingers
as they turn to prunes.
tomorrow does not lay
buried / at the bottom of my tears;
I say / watch me drink
this bleeding heart / in silence.
Orji Glomygia is a brilliant Nigerian writer, writing across various genres. As a storyteller, she delves deep into the human condition, skillfully capturing the essence of our collective experience in her prose, poetry, and nonfiction essays. Her works can be found in the We Are Deathless anthology, on her blogs, and across her engaging social media accounts.
When Glomygia isn't writing, you will find her buried within the pages of a book or the scenes of a movie or within layers of fabric and a sewing machine. You can reach her on her social media @glow_mygia and read more of her works on her blog, https://medium.com/@glomygia7.