ERIATA ORIBHABOR POETRY PRIZE (EOPP) 2019 WINNING POEM
Since its establishment, the intention of the Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize (EOPP) has been to “give the much-needed attention to Nigerian poetry and encourage young Nigerian poets to use poetry as a tool for social change.” From my perspective and experiences, people and things that have changed our communities and world are those who are willing to go to those places that people shy away from in thoughts, words, and actions. They are also people who are not afraid of offending others while implementing the change they desire for the best of those who are around them and beyond.
Similarly, in poetry when I see prompts like the one which EOPP has, I am looking for poetry that isn’t gentle; one that is vulnerable and raw. One with a unique perspective, passion, and influence that impacts even a person who isn’t a poetry lover. The prompt of the EOPP was to “submit well-worded poems on the sub-themes of Unity, Truth, Justice, Change and Sustainable Development in society, with focus on Nigeria – her people, cultures, experiences, hopes, and aspirations.”
One mistake that poets who submit for contests with prompts like this make is that they easily fall to what is very familiar, forgetting that many other entrants may propose the same idea and perspective. When evaluating the winning poems of this contest, even at first glance, you will find that they are distinguishable and with intent. Unlike some writers who would fall into the common spell of starting their poems with lyrics from the Nigerian anthem or pledge just because the prompt asks that the entrants focus on Nigeria, these winning poems found ways to make the prompt personal to them and their readers.