A tad bit about the Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2017 and the fear of winning a poetry competition.
As a Poet who loves to read and know about what is happening in the world of poetry, it is my pleasure to announce to us that Poetry pays! We are in a society where most people have this inate belief that nothing good is in writing or performing poetry. Because of this, a lot of young writers have subjected themselves into permanent or temporary hiding of their creative writing abilities. One thing i know is that if you are consistent and serious with your career path in ‘Poetry and Creative writing’, you will surely get to a place of recognition, where Poetry will actually begin to pay you.
For many of us, poetry seems to be something we just like to do whenever we are bored or as a hobby, and for others, their lives solely depend on their writing skills, but my deepest concern is “How do you hope to achieve more than just allowing the pages of your blank sheets feel the warmth of your pen?” This is one question all emerging creative writing poets should seriously ask themselves.
So, a few months back, I stumble across the Brunel International Poetry Prize 2017, after searching online for possible International Poetry competitions to enter for. I read the terms, conditions and everything required for entering this type of highly anticipated feat, then surprising myself, i slowly slipped into a ‘brain freeze’. I wasn’t so sure I was qualified for this competition. I knew I have been secretly practicing my creative writing side of poetry, but it seemed to me I am not ‘quite’ ready for this, then I opened another web page, and my thought about the search for others poetry competitions melted and trickled out of my unfrozen mind. I was scared!
Now, the highly-anticipated Brunel International Poetry Prize is a competition that is set to showcase new African voices in Poetry for each year. The first was in 2013, where UK raised, Kenyan born, poet and writer, Warsan Shire won the competition, after been among the six shortlisted from the 665 entries. This opened a vista of opportunities for her, of which she was later named ‘London Young Poet laureate’, and featured in American singer, Beyoncé’s song Lemonade and other projects. Warsan is known for her creatively simplistic way of writing her poems as touching areas of cultural displacements, war, issues refugee immigrants face, etc. she is the author of several works, especially the popular one; Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth (flipped eye, 2011). This type of competition is now highly anticipated.
Five years down the line, fast-forward to 2017, another Nigerian clinches the £3,000 grand prize, after Gbenga Adesina and Chekwube O. Danladi won this same prize in 2016. From the 1,200 entries, he is the third Nigerian amongst the ten shortlisted for the competition (see http://www.africanpoetryprize.org/press-release-shortlist-2016). Romeo Oriogun is a new and emerging voice, and a writer who writes passionately about the most unlikely themes, which cut across sexuality, masculinity in a country where LGBTQ rights are far-fetched. Romeo is an Ilesha born Nigerian, a very free-spirited young man, and the author of an online (see http://www.praxismagonline.com/) published chapbook collection of poems- Burnt Men. His writing ‘creatively’ has remained relevant in his day. Romeo may have had similar thoughts as mine when he started his poetry journey, and may have also had to open new webpages just to unfreeze his mind. But giving himself the go ahead and passion for his well-shaped thought, has brought him this glory.
How far you are willing to push yourself and your creativity out there matters a lot, and is what will announce you in the future. The fear of winning poetry competitions, especially International ones, should be in fact something to desire greatly and work towards. Like the best definition of the word F.E.A.R says, it is false evidence appearing real, so when you do not fix your gaze on the falseness of not winning, then will your works get noticed. Remain steadfast and aim at sending your works for Local, National or International poetry competitions. You’d be doing your dear self a world of good!
I wish the current winner of the Brunel International Poetry Prize 2017, all the best in the literary Wall of Fame. Keep winning.
Edwina Amakievi Aleme
Photo Credit: Emembiriodo Ugochukwu ‘Hitch’