Monday, August 7, 2017

CONGRATULATIONS TO KARIUKI WA NYAMU ON WINNING THE BABISHAI 2017 HAIKU PRIZE




On the night of Sunday 6 August, we held our award-giving ceremony of the 2017 Babishai haiku prize. The judges, after intense deliberation, came up with their final list, and in order, we congratulate Kariuki wa Nyamu from Kenya, on emerging first, Anthony Itopa Obaro rm Nigeria, on emerging second and Kuadegbeku Pamela from Ghana, on emerging third. Congratulations to all that made it to the shortlist.




Below are the judges' comments.

JUDGES COMMENTARY ON THREE TOP POEMS

COMMENTARY BY ADJEI AGYEI-BAAH/GHANA

FIRST PRIZE
last night’s rain
in the morning mud
fresh toad prints

Kariuki wa Nyamu/Kenya

The general acceptance that a ‘good’ haiku is born out of a close observation is clearly demonstrated in this haiku. As a persnickety fellow concerned with “little things” and its role in nature was drawn to this haiku by its mere fact of familiarity and yet revealing something unfamiliar. This ku actually connects so well with me as a village boy who used to play with other kids in the mud after rainfall, and had always been fascinated by the footprints we left in the mud, or the ones left by others, and even that of little animals, especially on our way to the farm. But the simple question that unmindful person may ask is, “what after all is remarkable about these footprints, when they are not even of humans but of little animals? And the haikuist will answer: “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make a big revelation.” Hence the mud prints we leave today become the harden spots for others to travel by tomorrow! Or simply as a way to telling others that we were once HERE! In fact, these are the footprint of wisdom, aside its structural details, that the haikuist left on my mind and hence commends it for the top spot position.
--Adjei Agyei-Baah/ Ghana


SECOND PRIZE
downpour
waterfalls from rooftops
pouring into buckets

Anthony Itopa Obaro/Nigeria

The beauty of this haiku lies in its structure, and diction carefully selected by the poet that culminate into one beautiful poetic puzzle. Firstly, the imposing one-word opener: “downpour” which find its way onto “rooftops” and cascade down as “waterfall” at the turn point of eaves or joints and filling “buckets” down below, is anyway a common scene but still brings to forth the poet’s brilliance and mastery in the chaining of words to birth this beautiful composition. The poet though creates a seemingly setting of delightful season—rain arrival, but yet with its subtle worry of water scarcity. One can envisage a village drown in a prolong dryness or drought compelling people to put buckets and sometimes barrels (at roof joints) to collect rain as substitute for clean water. Indeed, this is a scene very common in Africa and other places in the world, and hence gets my yes as a beautiful piece that succinctly tells an African story.
--Adjei Agyei-Baah/ Ghana


THIRD PRIZE
moon circle
palms into palms
an armless child breaks the ring

Kuadegbeku Pamela/Ghana

The poem has a sterling opener with two circle words, a” moon” and “circle” itself, beautifully stitched to create an outdoor setting of children under moonlight. A noticeable village or city scene which recalls a fond memory and transport the reader down the memory lane, where there are no light and kids and lovers take advantage of the situation to prolong their stay into the night by playing or chatting. But like a good haiku, often imbued with its twist and turns, the joy of the persona is shortly lived, as a gap in the “circle” is revealed─ the missing arms of a child. Though the source be it an accident or a natural occurrence is not clearly stated; the sorry sight of war in Africa (and other places) is quickly brought into mind. Perhaps the real image the poet calls to our attention here. The horrible images of “short sleeve” or “long sleeves” once perpetuated by fiends like Fodah Sankoh (of Sierra Leone) and his kind on our beloved continent Africa rear its ugly head here and surely come as an awakening confirmation to the fact “all the arms we need are for hugging” and not simply for tugging!
--Adjei Agyei-Baah/ Ghana



COMMENTARY BY MERCY IKURI/ KENYA


FIRST PRIZE
last night’s rain
in the morning mud
fresh toad prints

Kariuki wa Nyamu/Kenya

As a pluviophile, this haiku won me over and I welcome it wholeheartedly to the Afriku hall of fame. Most haiku depict what is there; they paint a picture of a striking image as witnessed by the writer.  But here we see a writer who, like a detective, is looking at “a clue” left behind in nature and makes a delightful deduction. For me, the alliterating and refreshing “morning mud” kigo added to the memorability of this haiku.
Speaking of kigo, having both “ last night’s rain” and “morning mud” made this haiku feel a little too kigo- heavy but the decision was pardoned as further paring down of this version would perhaps take away from its “oomph” and the African setting it draws inspiration from.
Great poems, books, songs…any truly great thing, really, is that which makes you wish you had written, sang or created it. This haiku did that for me. Congratulations to the writer…Encore!
---Mercy Ikuri/ Kenya

SECOND PRIZE
downpour
waterfalls from rooftops
pouring into buckets

Yet another rainy-season-inspired haiku. This time, depicting a scene those who have ever dealt with leaking roofs know only too well.

While repetition of an idea can re-inforce a message, it is more often than not more effective in the longer forms of poetry. In shorter verses like haiku, it tends to water down the general impact, turning the “aha” moment into a “duh” moment. In this case, the words “downpour”, “waterfalls” and “pouring” had that effect on me.

The saving grace was the imagery of “waterfalls” thundering down into buckets; upgrading streams of rain pouring into a house to “waterfalls” relayed the annoyance of a leaking roof very well. The African setting is clearly captured and relatable to many.
I see a keen eye and a way with words here and I wish the writer many more moments in the haiku limelight.
---Mercy Ikuri/ Kenya

THIRD PRIZE
moon circle
palms into palms
an armless child breaks the ring

Kuadegbeku Pamela/Ghana

In the same way the armless child breaks the playful circle, this haiku breaks one’s line of thinking, forcing you to dwell on it a little while longer. And that is something I appreciate about creatively crafted haiku; the ability to make the reader “stop and see” in the same way the writer did when inspiration struck.

Without the line “moon circle”, I feel that this would be such a poignant senryu.  Considering this, the first line feels a little “patched into place” in order to avoid standing out as a senryu in a sea of haiku. To the writer’s credit, however, the images of the moon’s circle and a ring of children complemented each other well enough.

The contrast brought in by the last line’s revelation evokes an emotional response, making it a most memorable piece. To the writer I say “Bravo!”, you have earned your place in my personal “haiku hall of faves” and “Encore!”
---Mercy Ikuri/ Kenya


COMMENTARY BY EMMANUEL JESSIE KALUSIAN/ NIGERIA


FIRST PRIZE
last night's rain
in the morning mud
fresh toad prints

Kariuki wa Nyamu/Kenya

The haiku begins by telling us of the past night's experience-- a merciless downpour i guess. Interestingly, at first light the personae of the poem is not only met with wetness in the mud, but something revelatory: the incessant prints of toads, who have toiled the night and soiled the mud. Three things strike me in this haiku. One: the gentle way it peels back layers of understanding. Every line of the 'ku is doubtless a revelation that invites the reader further into the poem. Two: is the aha-line 'fresh toad prints'. It is so vivid and punchy that i can even see and tread in the toad prints myself! This is one thing well-written haikus do. The last and the most obvious is its Africanness. The scenario painted is one the average African can easily relate to. Finally, for lack of a better word, let me tell this great haijin bravo for composing such a gem.
---Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian/ Nigeria

SECOND PRIZE

downpour
waterfalls from rooftops
pouring into buckets

Anthony Itopa Obaro/Nigeria

The haiku begins with noise, gusts of rain pouring hard on a roof. In the second line of the poem, the haijin is tempted to state a thing twice. Instead of saying 'water from rooftops' (which would have been so obvious). He euphemistically and quite satirically (in view of the state of the personae's roof) refers to it, interestingly not as leaky
roof but as 'waterfalls'. This changes the entire view of the poem and makes the reader see mere raindrops from a whole new light! In truth, the use of Euphemism in the poem brings me to the question of whether figure of speech, even the slightest form of it is allowed in haiku composition. Well since Matsuo Basho, the great Japanese haiku writer used metaphor in one of his verses. Haijins from all over the world have been taking a cue from him. But let me quickly point out here that those who use figure of speech and are lauded have been using it skillfully and technically, in such a way that the reader hardly notices. Not verbatim and pointedly as it is used in other forms of poetry. And yes, Anthony gave a skillful rendition of it in this poem. In the pivot line of the 'ku 'waterfalls' from 'rooftops' flows into buckets, which i love to think, the personae intentionally positioned. Altogether makes this haiku continue in my head long after it is read. Something well-written haikus with beautiful moments are wont to doing. Conclusively, the third line of this haiku, especially the verb 'pouring' puts the poem in an ever present state, which is also the hallmark of a well-written in view of the form's basic aesthetics.

---Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian/ Nigeria

THIRD PRIZE

moon circle
palms into palms
an armless child breaks the ring

Kuadegbeku Pamela/Ghana

This haiku has a touch of poignancy and childhood. In the first line, we see a circle is formed around the moon by children at play. The poem progresses to the second, where we see palms linked. But the aha-line is really where the 'magic' lives. An armless child brings 'his' oddness to the ring, and the ring as if knowing cuts abruptly, and all the children notice the one who isn't like them. And i guess the child is sent away or the play loses its savour. The bone of contention here, is that the way we are, whether deformed by an accident or born deformed pointedly determines how we are accepted or how we enter certain places and forums. Have you ever seen a cripple enter a bank? Does he enter the same way as a whole man? Do people look at him pitiably the same way as the whole man? Does his mere presence contour the expression on the faces of people? The answers are not far-fetched, and this haiku poet gives the subject matter a better case and a fine rendering.
---Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian/ Nigeria

Sunday, August 6, 2017

USMAN KAROFI FROM NIGERIA; BABISHAI 2017 HAIKU SHORTLIST

Usman Karofi, from Kano State, Nigeria says that he entered the Babishai 2017 haiku competition because of his love for haikus. His personal journey with haikus combines with his passion for nature, which haikus provide.




#Babishai2017
What drew you to enter for the Babishai 2017 haiku competition?
What makes me to enter the contest was first, my love for haiku poems. And secondly, given I came from northern Nigeria where haiku is not cherished most, I think it will be my responsibility to enter the contest and see how good I am.

Do you have a personal story with haikus?
Actually I do, haiku being a type of poetry in harmony with nature, there is no doubt my story with haiku lies there. Nature is something i cherished on my poems even before starting my haiku journey, coming to know haiku that lit the fire in me and makes me join the haiku train.

What do you think of the shortlist in general?
 The shortlist consist of outstanding poets all over the continent. And am optimistic any poet on that list deserved to be there.

What motivation, do you feel, that writers need, in this competitive world?
The greatest motivation that writers need is that, they should never give up. They are the voice of the voiceless, the path may be aphotic, but a light awaits at the end.

If your 2017 haiku submission were food, what would it be?
If my 2017 submission were food, it will be my local food here called "WAINA" a food made from grinded rice and fried, eaten with soup made from vegetables. The food is actually eaten during festivals here in northern Nigerian.

Read his submission here:

July rain. . .
my child traces her name
on the car’s windscreen

We at Babishai, congratulate him again. The winners will be announced at the #Babishai2017 Poetry Festival dinner on Sunday 6 August at Humura Resort, Kitante Close. Cards are on sale at 40,000/- Call +256 703147862. The full festival programme is here.

http://babishainiwe.com/2017/07/17/babishai2017-poetry-festival-programme/

The full winning haikus are here:
http://bnpoetryaward.blogspot.ug/2017/07/the-babishai-2017-haiku-shortlist.html


ANTHONY ITOPA OBARO; BABISHAI 2017 HAIKU SHORTLIST

Anthony Itopa Obaro, from Lokoja, says that the Babishai 2017 haiku shortlist is an array of breathtaking haiku that speaks volumes of the imaginative powers of its authors. He further says that he loves the poems just as much as he loves egusi soup. #Babishai2017





What drew you to enter for the competition?
I  felt that by participating in the competition of this magnitude, my writing could stand a chance of enjoying wide readership, If I did well.

Do you have  a particular personal story with haiku?
Yeah. I have been writing since my teens, but knew nothing about haiku until last year when I read the interview Agyei-Baah granted with Babishai Niwe on haiku. I developed interest in haiku since then, and have been writing haiku for roughly a year now.

What do you feel  towards the shortlist in general?
The shortlist is an array of breathtaking haiku that speaks volumes of the imaginative powers of its authors.

What motivation do poets need to keep writing in this ridiculously competitive world that vies for their attention?
Writing isn’t likely to fetch all writers much money, for sure. But, I suppose, the writer’s passion to write, and the prospect of his writing enjoying a measure of readership are the two main factors that ensure his pen is busy every other day.

If your 2017 submission was food, what would it be?
Wow!   Maybe pounded yam and egusi soup. I love this Nigerian delicacy as much as I love my poems on the shortlist.
Read his haikus here:

harmattan
unseen broom sweeping
everywhere


downpour
waterfalls from rooftops
pouring into buckets

We at Babishai, congratulate him again. The winners will be announced at the #Babishai2017 Poetry Festival dinner on Sunday 6 August at Humura Resort, Kitante Close. Cards are on sale at 40,000/- Call +256 703147862. The full festival programme is here.

http://babishainiwe.com/2017/07/17/babishai2017-poetry-festival-programme/

The full winning haikus are here:
http://bnpoetryaward.blogspot.ug/2017/07/the-babishai-2017-haiku-shortlist.html

Saturday, August 5, 2017

NNEDIMMA EZENWA-OHAETO FROM AKWA, NIGERIA; BABISHAI 2017 HAIKU SHORTLIST

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Nnedimma Ezenwa-Ohaeto is from Akwa, Anambra State in Nigeria. She says that her brother, Chinua, motivated her to write and enter for the Babishai 2017 haiku prize.



What drew you to enter for the competition?

I don’t think it is “what” but “who”: it has always been my brother, Chinua, who always wants me and our other siblings to write, express ourselves and enter for competitions. He loves competitions. Making it into the shortlist has been a great joy to me. My entries― although my first time of trying haiku― were edited by Chinua, who gave it its taste and quality.




Do you have a particular personal story with haikus?


Yeah, I do. It was really difficult, for me, writing haikus because it was my first time. I remember how I birthed them: one particular night, I couldn’t sleep, and in the bid of wanting to kill time by doing a thing rather than just lying in my bed, I picked a paper and wrote just three, and one of them got me onto the shortlist.



What do you feel towards the shortlist in general?


Wooow! But I feel great. I feel appreciated. I feel I can write more. I feel my tiny and shy voice can make a difference.
     




 What motivation do poets need, to keep writing, in this ridiculously competitive world that vies for their attention?

Motivation poets need, for me, to keep writing: read more, listen to their feelings, and allow themselves be absorbed by their environment(s). In this way they can reflect their inner selves and society in which they find themselves through their outputs.

    


If your 2017 submission was food, what would it be?
It would be fried rice decorated with chicken.

Her 2017 haiku submission is here:


crickets' chirps
break the quiet of night:
an old man deserts his armchair


 We at Babishai, congratulate her again. The winners will  be announced at the #Babishai2017 Poetry Festival dinner on Sunday 6 August at Humura Resort, Kitante Close. Cards are on sale at 40,000/- Call +256 703147862. The full festival programme is here.

http://babishainiwe.com/2017/07/17/babishai2017-poetry-festival-programme/ 

The full winning haikus are here:

http://bnpoetryaward.blogspot.ug/2017/07/the-babishai-2017-haiku-shortlist.html






BASH FAHAD FROM UGANDA; BABISHAI 2017 HAIKU SHORTLIST

Abubasam Fahad Mutumba is an editor with Makerere Unversity's Campus Bee, a performer with a large following and he says that his 2017 haiku submission is a mouth-watering luwombo. #Babishai2017


What drew you to enter for the competition?

I entered the competition because I would like my poetry to get a bigger reach — given the stature of The Babishai Organization. I always look at my pen as a camera; able to paint images for the world to see them the way I saw them.

Do you have a particular personal story with haikus?
I don't know if this answers the question well, but to me, every haiku is a story. The reason as to why I write haiku is so that I don't forget the story I have come across.

What do you feel towards the shortlist in general?
I feel the shortlist proves that there's literary talent in Africa.

 What motivation do poets need, to keep writing, in this ridiculously competitive world that vies for their attention?
Someone once said you should always follow your heart; that's exactly what poets should do. Passion always wins.

If your 2017 submission was food, what would it be?
It would be a luwombo of pasted dry fish, with mouthwatering matooke.

Read his haiku  here:

Ugandan road...
a shrivelled leaf flies in
a cloud of dust

We at Babishai, congratulate him again. The winners will  be announced at the #Babishai2017 Poetry Festival dinner on Sunday 6 August at Humura Resort, Kitante Close. Cards are on sale at 40,000/- Call +256 703147862.

The full festival programme is here.
http://babishainiwe.com/2017/07/17/babishai2017-poetry-festival-programme/

The full winning haikus are here:
http://bnpoetryaward.blogspot.ug/2017/07/the-babishai-2017-haiku-shortlist.html

Thursday, August 3, 2017

KARIUKI WA NYAMU FROM KENYA; BABISHAI 2017 HAIKU SHORTLIST


Kariuki wa Nyamu is from Kenya and he believes that the shortlist has elevated each poet to a literary pedestal. He undertook haiku research when called upon to edit a high profile literary magazine, after which his interest grew. #Babishai2017






What drew you to take part in this competition?
Well, although I rarely participate in writing competitions, I must honestly admit that when it is Babishai Niwe Prize, I always feel an impulse to take part, even if I have previously not made it to the long list, leave alone the shortlist until this year. In point of fact, this was my third time to try my luck. I have never given up though. In May this year, once I saw the advert for the Babishai Haiku contest, I set my mind to participate for I could feel that I had something that is out of the ordinary. I am glad I did. Well, here I am on the shortlist and ecstatic about it.

Do you have a particular personal story with haikus?
Yes, thanks. Last year, an Editor-in-Chief of one International literary journal [www.thewagonmagazine.com] based in India engaged me to compile and edit the January Issue of the journal sub-titled Africa Literary Special together with two other talented young Kenyan writers. I gracefully took up the opportunity and in January this year [2017], the above mentioned Issue was published both in print and online form. In the said project, I got an opportunity to edit haikus which some of the writers especially from Ghana and Nigeria submitted. As we compiled the literary pieces, I particularly developed a stimulus for the art of haiku writing. Honestly, I had not written haikus before and so I had to undertake a lot of research on them so that I could select the best pieces. Since then, I made efforts to learn Haiku aesthetics through joining Haiku groups as well as reading journals [like The Mamba, Africa Haiku Network, Virtual Haiku, Ghana Haiku Society] where writers post their works and the corresponding critiques. I have learnt a lot from these and more groups and journals. Another thing that has demystified my learning of Haiku writing is my love for nature, photography and art in general. And one more thing, now that my piece has been shortlisted by a great team of judges, I promise to immerse myself in Haiku aesthetics, learn more and continue writing haikus on a regular basis.
What do you feel towards the shortlist in general?
I would like to congratulate all the shortlisted poets! I am very delighted to be shortlisted among poets, some of whom have made great strides in haiku writing. This is very humbling! Otherwise, I trust that this has elevated each shortlisted poet to a higher literary pedestal. About the shortlisted pieces, I must say they are terrific! They make us see scenic panorama of Africa and listen to melodic sounds. Ah, each piece is distinctive and fascinating in its own way thus all the shortlisted poets are winners. Bravo!
What motivation do poets need to keep writing, in this ridiculously competitive world that vies for their attention?
In my opinion, I do not think I can sufficiently manage to cite or even explicate the motivation that poets need in order to continue writing. Reason being, I am one of those people who believe that Poetry is a very personal enthrallment! Consequently, I would like to assert that the supreme motivation should be from oneself. I consider sound critical response as a basic ingredient though. It motivates a poet to go on with writing. I therefore strongly believe that poets need ardent readers who are all set to read poems closely and offer sound feedback that will in due course ensure their literary growth. This could be in form of reviews and commentaries even if it is on Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This chiefly funnels a poet towards the right direction thus offering great motivation to keep on writing. Otherwise when one’s work is accepted in especially internationally published books, journals and online literary blogs or upon being shortlisted and ultimately winning a contest, this certainly offers a great deal of motivation to a poet.

If your 2017 submission was food, what would it be?
Well, this depends on my place of residence. When I am in Kenya, the Pride of Africa and my first country, the food would be green mukimo served with kienyeji (local breed) chicken stew! And whenever I am in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa and my second country, the food would definitely be matoke served with beef stew. These local delicacies are very yummy!

Read his haiku here:


last night’s rain
in the morning mud 
fresh toad prints


We at Babishai, congratulate Him again. The winners will  be announced at the #Babishai2017 Poetry Festival dinner on Sunday 6 August at Humura Resort, Kitante Close. Cards are on sale at 40,000/- Call +256 703147862. The full festival programme is here.

http://babishainiwe.com/2017/07/17/babishai2017-poetry-festival-programme/

The full winning haikus are here:
http://bnpoetryaward.blogspot.ug/2017/07/the-babishai-2017-haiku-shortlist.html


DAN'BALA UMAR FROM GHANA; BABISHAI 2017 HAIKU SHORTLIST

Dan’bala Umar is from Ghana and was shortlisted for the Babishai 2017 haiku competition. He says that life itself is a motivation and was inspired to enter the haiku contest by one of the 2016 winners, Alebna Blessmond. Dan’bala says that the judges must have had quite a time to include him on the 2017 haiku shortlist. #Babishai2017

Dan'bala Umar (Courtesy photo)

What drew you to enter for the competition?

I was introduced to the contest by a friend, ALEBNA BLESSMOND who himself was a finalist last year. Initially I was skeptical about submitting for I only discovered Haiku not quite long and I felt it was perhaps too early for me as a learner.

Do you have a particular personal story with haikus?
Well.... sigh... Not much that I can think of at the moment, but  I must say that Haiku has influenced the way I look at my environment lately. I pay keen interest to it for inspiration.

What do you feel towards the shortlist in general?
Certainly I feel lucky when I look at the shortlist, the judges must have had quite a time.

What motivation do poets need, to keep writing, in this ridiculously competitive world that vies for their attention?
 Life is the motivation, as a poet, one is a custodian of such a great gift of nature (writing). Therefore, it must be nurtured by writing without ceasing.

If your 2017 Babishai haiku submission were food, what would it be?
 It would have been a Ghanaian Jollof.😊

We at Babishai, congratulate him again. The winners will  be announced at the #Babishai2017 Poetry Festival dinner on Sunday 6 August at Humura Resort, Kitante Close. Cards are on sale at 40,000/- Call +256 703147862. The full festival programme is here.

http://babishainiwe.com/2017/07/17/babishai2017-poetry-festival-programme/

The full winning haikus are here:
http://bnpoetryaward.blogspot.ug/2017/07/the-babishai-2017-haiku-shortlist.html