According to a Chinese Philosopher and Poet, Confucius, “[Everyone] has beauty but not everyone can see.” Sir, Eriata Oribhabor and Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom of Poets in Nigeria Initiative (PIN) must have seen this beauty that they recommended me as a PIN intern in November 2020. After a few deliberations, I was announced as PIN Assistant Secretary on intern on 1st December 2020. This was shortly after I became the moderator of the PIN 10-Day Poetry Challenge and 2020 Festival Poetry Calabar Assistant Media Head. My journey as a major PIN Player began immediately after this announcement was made.
At first, I was unable to decipher why I was seen as the best fit for the positions I assumed, as I had never taken up a similar space before and had no experience on how to run administrative matters. But later seeing myself in that field; writing reports, navigating the Connect Centres and Initiatives of PIN, ensuring accountability amongst moderators and Lead reps, and being answerable to mistakes, errors, and loopholes, I understood that it was barely about me being the best fit, but more about my willingness and zeal to not just serve but to learn. Sir, Eriata and Kolade saw this and never denied me the chance. My position as a PIN intern and moderator has so far multiplied in folds for me. Presently, I see how it has weaved me into a more sophisticated individual who fully understands the art of poetry with ease and aims at excellence in every other thing. So far with Sir Eriata and Kolade, I have learned that everyone holds great value and meaning in their present and the ability to learn and grow until the end of their lives.
PIN SUMMIT AND ANNOUNCEMENT OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS POETRY PRIZE 2021 began with the moderators of the various Initiatives and Connect Centre Lead reps attending the PIN SUMMIT held at Eriata Heights Ikorodu Lagos from the 15th to 16th of January 2021 as delegates representing their initiatives. In the summit, moderators and lead reps reflected on the highlights of their initiatives and connect centres achievements despite the challenges of the pandemic in 2020 and drew open the curtain for their 2021 plans and way forward. The call for entries for the 6th edition of the Nigerian Student’s Poetry Prize was also made at the summit.
PIN INITIATIVES AND [email protected] CELEBRATION
2021 was not an easy year to break through, but for PIN it was a year that brought a formidable crop of new ideas, innovations and great feats through the functional initiatives and connect centres. This accomplishment was crowned in a cross-country celebration of freedom and creativity in commemoration of PIN @6 where moderators, lead reps and a few members of PIN hosted events across their different locations.
FUNCTIONAL PIN INITIATIVES
• Nigerian Students Poetry Prize (NSPP)
• PIN Chapbook Series
• The GlassDoor Initiative
• PIN 10-Day Poetry Challenge
• PIN Steps & Stops
• PIN Literary Interviews
• PIN Punchy Poetry
• PIN Facebook Group Initiative
• PIN Tongues of Poetry
PIN CONNECT CENTRES
• UNICROSS Connect Centre
• U.I Abeokuta Connect Centre
• BUK Connect Centre
• OOU Connect Centre
The Nigerian Students Poetry Prize, moderated by Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom, the Executive Secretary of PIN opened its 6th edition entry window on the 15th of January, 2021 and closed on the 15th of March. Having received a valid total number of 247 entries, 81 was announced as top entries on October 2nd, 2021. Out of the 81 top entries, 20 were longlisted and 10 out of the 20 were shortlisted. On the 15th of October 2021, in the cross-country commemoration of [email protected], an event was hosted at the University of Ibadan where the three prize winners were announced and awarded accordingly. The grand prize winner of the 6th edition of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize is Samuel A. Adeyemi from the Federal University of Lokoja, Kogi State. Samuel’s winning work ‘Portrait of Water’ is the title of the 2021 NSPP Anthology of top 81 poems. The NSPP is the most prestigious initiative of Poets in Nigeria with the highest cash prize award. It is a platform that has raised the voices of Nigerian students’ poets and given them a level of validation in their creative space. What Kolade is doing for this initiative challenges the other PIN initiatives into doing more respectively.
The GlassDoor Initiative’s Poetically Written Prose Contest, moderated by Naseeba Babale opened its submission window on the 9th of April, 2021 and closed on the 10th of June. It received 101 qualified entries and announced a shortlist of 20 outstanding entries. The shortlisted entrants were hosted on the 18th of October, 2021 in a cross-country celebration of [email protected] anniversary. They were unveiled by the moderator on zoom and the three prize winners were announced and awarded accordingly. The grand prize winner, Akanbi Shedrack who was overwhelmed upon his announcement was asked to read from his winning entry ‘Boken’. The anthology of top 20 poetically written prose was then released for downloads. Since its inception, this Initiative has awarded cash prizes to its winners. With Naseeba, It has continued to record milestones.
THE PIN 10-DAY POETRY CHALLENGE AND CHAPBOOK SERIES
The PIN 10-Day Poetry Challenge is moderated by me and the Chapbook series, by Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom. The PIN 10-Day Poetry Challenge has become an integral part of the Chapbook Series based on the publication. On the 8th of August, 2021 PIN released 8 poetry collections drawn from the third edition of the PIN chapbook series. The 2020 PIN 10-Day Poetry Challenge collection of winning poems made up the 8 published titles. In the commemoration of [email protected], the Executive Secretary of PIN, Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom and I hosted the Chapbook authors and the PIN 10-Day Poetry Challenge Joint winners in the year 2020 and 2021. Kolade is the pioneer moderator of almost all PIN initiatives. He has paved the way for us all in PIN. And for me, I hope to carry the PIN 10-Day Poetry Challenge to its utmost limelight.
PIN PUNCHY POETRY
Chukwudalu Abugu of University of Nigeria Nsukka was announced as the Moderator of the PIN Punchy Poetry, in January 2021. Within a few months after the announcement, she transformed the initiative with valid new ideas. She started by uploading throwback videos of the winners of past editions as prelude to announcement of the 2021 edition. On the 10th of May, a call for entries was made. Entrants were expected to upload a video of themselves reciting a poem on the PIN Instagram page. After the shortlist of 7 outstanding entries was released, on the 10th of August, three prize winners were announced. Malami Adeboye was the first prize winner. The three prize winners received a 50,000-naira cash prize, which was split accordingly. All entrants received a certificate of participation from PIN. Chukwudalu’s landmark transformation of PIN Punchy Poetry holds greater value in the lives of its winners.
TONGUES OF POETRY
On the 16th of January, at the PIN 2nd annual summit Ikorodu Lagos Nigeria, Abdulbaki A.Ahmed was officially unveiled as the Moderator of the PIN Tongues of Poetry [TOP]. Tongues of Poetry which is geared towards preserving Nigerian Languages and cultures via poetry writing for a healthy literary heritage kick-started in 2021 with the call for submission of poems in Fulfulde. Its entry window opened on April 1st, and the shortlist was announced on the 2nd of August. 50,000 was awarded to the three winners of the competition. The initiative promises us the Anthology of Poems in Fulfulde 2021. Also, in a bid to promote the culture of poetry reading and writing in Fulfulde, the moderator collaborated with the National Association of Fulbe Students [KUST] WUDIL, chapter to organize a one-day workshop on the theme, ‘Understanding the alphabets, the orthography and the standard way of writing in Fulfulde. The guest tutor for this workshop was Surajo Tete, a Fulfude Poet and translator. With Abdulbaki, Tongues of Poetry has a promising future.
PIN FACEBOOK GROUP
The PIN Facebook Group Initiative is moderated by Shehu Mubarak Sulaiman. The group was created on the 8th of October, 2016. In September 2021 it recorded 59,000 members and more. Presently, the group has over 64, 000 members. I see the PIN Facebook group as the hub of Poets in Nigeria’s activities. It is a group that holds the capacity to transmit news to almost a million people. It has driven all the activities of PIN since inception and continues to do so. On the 14th of October, 2021, the moderator organized a Poetry workshop for members of the group. This workshop was held on zoom with the Facilitator, Sa’id Sa’ad Abubakar treating the topic ‘Understanding the craft of poetry writing’. Shehu Mubarak, the moderator of this initiative also introduced a poetry package called ‘What are the most pressing questions you have held back regarding poetry. ’ His continued effort to engage this group has become our asset in PIN.
PIN LITERARY INTERVIEWS
Semilore Kilaso, the moderator of PIN Literary Interviews has in a few years since the launch of the initiative turned it into a hub of excellence. In 2021, she interviewed several literary personalities including BM Dzukogi, Founder, Hill Top Creative Arts Foundation.
PIN CONNECT CENTERS
PIN Connect Centres were modelled to spread across different states, cities and institutions in Nigeria. However, in 2021 after the PIN summit at Eriata Heights Ikorodu, decisions were made and PIN Connect Centres became strictly domiciled in tertiary institutions. This was to ensure more effectiveness and accountability amongst members and lead reps. Presently, PIN has 4 functional Connect Centres as earlier listed. In May 2021, PIN delivered ‘The House That Built Me’ an Anthology of top 60 Poems of the NSPP 2020 to the five Connect Centres of PIN which include; Unical Calabar, Unicross Calabar, OOU Ago Iwoye, UI ABK, Abeokuta and BUK Kano. Within that period, PIN introduced the Connect Centres Poetry Writing Contest [CCPWC]. I moderated its Maiden edition which produced two prize winners ‘First Prize, Michael Esukpa and Second Prize, Alamu Mary. Both winners were awarded cash prizes. Also, Chinatu Orji who became the former Lead rep of Unicross Connect Centre after [email protected] anniversary in October, was appointed the Connect Centres Moderator. The four functional PIN Connect Centres, held poetry readings and activities in their different institutions in 2021. Considering the new dimension, I can’t but see more robust connect centres growing across the different institutions in Nigeria.
STEPS AND STOPS
As part of PIN @6 Anniversary, PIN Steps and Stops powered by PIN 360 organized a special writing workshop for children and teens in Mosafejo-Amukoko, Lagos Nigeria with Moderator Solutionist as host on the 23rd October, 2022.
A major highlight of the program was Word Play and Writing Well amongst others. Mrs Adekunle Shola Phebian who is the moderator of Eko Literary Children’s Festival facilitated a tour session on creative writing. Children have been an essential part of PIN events since inception and with Solutionist Clementina, Funke Awodiya, and Adekunle Shola Phebian PIN has become the hub and driver of children education through poetry and other forms of art.
THE WRAP UP:[email protected] ANNIVERSARY
PIN wrapped up it’s 2021 activities with a Cross Country Celebration of Freedom and Creativity in commemoration of PIN @ 6. Series of events held across different locations viz; Nsukka, Lagos, Maiduguri, Uyo, Kano, Calabar, Ago Iwoye, Zaria, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Makurdi and on ZOOM.
Over the years PIN has recorded numerous victories for everyone who may have directly or indirectly associated with the literary promotion organization. The president of Poets in Nigeria Initiative, Sir, Eriata Oribhabor would always say, ‘This is where every participation is a win’.
For most of us who didn’t start with PIN on inception, we are using evident memories of the good deeds of PIN as both a starting point and guide to understanding that there are still places where a person’s voice does not disappear and we are at that exact place. Sometimes, I am unable to define what success and achievements imply, but I believe that the greatest legacy one can record, is in the many lives PIN has touched and will continue to impact.
Ifunanya Juliet Ottih
Asst. Sec (Intern) PIN