Shortlisted Entries – POET LAUREATE 2021

TVOTRIBE’s Poet Laureate started in December 2018, developed by Victoria Olajide as a means of sustaining and encouraging cultural awareness and creative energy within the collective creative space. Read the entries that made it to the shortlist for Poet Laureate 2021.

_NAME_ Olaitan Humble ENTRY TITLE_ Of Wine and Roses
Olaitan Humble is a writer, editor at Lumiere Review and reader at Bandit Fiction. Winner of the 2020 EW Poetry Prize’s People Choice Award, and Finalist for NND Poetry Prize and Loft Books Poetry Prize, he has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Award. His writing appears in North Dakota Quarterly, FIYAH, HOBART, HOAX, Chiron Review, Superstition Review, Ethel Zine, among others.


The heart of this entry centers around the line: “The dead shall open the eyes of the living” which encapsulates the core of how the poet fuses elements of African parables. This entry explores the death of the father of the poet persona and aftermath of events which unfolded.
The dead shall open the eyes of the living—the thought
that hovered above my head soon after my father's demise.

Father yielded the ghost smiling; whispering: “This is
not farewell, dear son. It is a facade.” He relapsed into

the dirt from which he emerged. He smiled & kept on
smiling like a virgin girl waiting to take her first jab, aye.

Alas! The smiles, I never witnessed; & the whispers fast
transited with the air, with the birds taking flight to the

farthest reach of the skies. Now daily, the skies whisper
father's words back to me in form of wind. The cumulus

clouds blind me to my faults. Maybe I had little faith in
what I heard through the grapevine, or maybe I am just

like my father. Unyielding & fierce; until the Reaper sent
harbingers of doom to strip him naked like he was at the

very beginning. In my dreams, I pay homage to things
I do not understand. What I have now is a palimpsest of

memories. Memories of halcyon days of yore bringing
nonpareil peace to my soul. Sometimes, I wish I sleep &

never return to this realm. I wish I could be gone too, like
my father. Gone. Maybe not dead, but somewhere over

the rainbow. The earth swallowed my father the way a black
hole sucks all of the light near it. Now, all that is left is

darkness. Pitch-black darkness.

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Iberuche Maryann is a Writer, Poet, Child right activist, Social media manager, Content creator and a Graphic designer. She is also the Founder of an NGO known as Daughters of Africa and a one time Writer at Today News. 

She is a talented writer, who uses her writings to correct and point out various societal vices on women. In her recently published novelette titled “Bruised Affection” which was dedicated to every African woman going through common marital problems she exposes the ill treatment women face in their marriage. The book encompasses abuse, domestic violence, fertility, love, tribalism, marriage life, and torture in its panorama.


Using proverbs, I wrote on the barbaric mourning rites in the eastern part of Nigeria. In a bad light, I exposed the cultural practises and the ill treatment melted to widows.
“Ndi okenye anyị kwuru si tupu ị lụọ nwanyị di ya nwụrụ, ị ga-ebu ụzọ chọpụta ihe gburu di ya. Anyi no ebea ka imata ihe gburu nwanne anyi” (Our elder said, before you marry a widow you must first find out what killed her husband. We are here to find out what killed our brother) Ugonna my husbands elder brother said, while pointing a finger at me. I sat down watching as the drama unfolds. “I gaghị ekwu ihe ọ kwaya?” (You won’t talk right) He said again this time hitting me with his walking stick. “Umu Ada, biko were ya ngwa ngwa” (Umu Ada, please be fast) 

The vibration of the clipper sent shivers down my spine, the clipper was as sharp as the claws of a bird and the teeth of a dog. I resisted moving my head from north to south then from east to west, as the Umu Adas strength subdued mine. The first blood ran through my forehead down to my cleavage. “egbughị m di m” (I did not kill my husband) all my pleas fell on deaf ears as they kept barbing my hair. 

“Onye na-agba ọsọ n'agha adịghị ama ihe agha na-akpata ọnwụ”. Gini mere i ji gbuo di gi? (A man who rushes into battle does not realise that battle entails death. Why did you kill your husband?) Nne Chike said while pulling me back to the mat. I sat down like a lifeless animal, watching in silence as they rained insults on me, spat on me then tore my clothes in pieces. I could neither move my body nor help myself. Amaka, my 7 month old baby, lay close to me. All she could do was cry as strands of my hair fell on her face. 

“Ngwa buru nwa” (carry the child) one of the Umu Ada’s said, I rushed drawing amaka close to me unfortunately they snatched her away from me. “Ndi okenye anyị kwuru si nwa nwoke bụ ihe niile, ma i muru nwa-nwanyi, amusu” (Our elders said, a male child is everything but you gave birth to a girl, witch) she ended her speech smacking her lips.

Various thoughts ran through my mind but the most disturbing was how to put an end to this misery before it escalates into something else. The thought of me making love to my husband's corpse, drinking the water used in bathing him, dancing round the village naked carrying a sacrifice and chewing bitter kola all through his burial rites is completed all in the name of custom and tradition. I wish the earth would swallow me the way it did to my husband for I am fed up. “Ura ga-eju onye nwuru anwu afo” (A dead person shall have all the sleep necessary) I said to myself “laa na ndo, dim oma” (Rest in peace, my dear husband) 
Udo is a pseudonymous Nigerian artist whose real name and identity remain unconfirmed and subject of speculation.


A reflection of who we are as Nigerians in today’s Nigeria told from the nostalgic perspective of a Nigeria of the past.
Adedayo Ademokoya is a freelance writer and poet who believes words are mightier than swords. When is not writing, he is looking for a muse for poetry. His works have appeared on Brave Arts Africa, Pracis Magazine, African Writer, Wild Word, Kalahari Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Indian Periodical and elsewhere.


What broken dreams are made of states how we let go of our dreams and imaginative ability while adult life is having a toll on us.
For most part of our childhood we made love with water because it cleans/ now our
hearts are stuck in the mud of our own thoughts/liking what can’t be loved/ all our muffled
dreams afraid of the day/ our eyes carrying each other’s fears/ & for most part of our lives/
we pretended it was okay/ that our minds was like the aimless coach/ substituting emotions
that were meant to be expressed/ or not be expressed like the grief shown on a boy’s face/
after losing his first love/or how the soil cracks when it is expected to be sooth by salty waters/
the pieces of paradise remain in us/ like curious children with identity crisis/ reminding us of/
all the things we could be/lovers, friends, siblings, fire that could never be extinguished/passion
yet to be discovered/while we could have been all/these bodies don’t know to regret/ for these
fragments of livid dreams/ would find ways to be expressed again/like ashes, we will
rise again.

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