Naseeba Babale is a poet and medical laboratory scientist who has a passion for the arts, especially poetry. In a chat with Poets in Nigeria (PIN), Naseeba shares her experience as a moderator and judge of the 2019 edition of Poetically Written Prose Contest.
You were the sole judge for this year’s PIN poetically written prose writing contest. Can you share your experience?
Well, when Mr. Eriata first approached me to ask if I’d be the judge, I felt overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure I was the right person for the job, but I agreed anyway. So, we called for entries and started. Now my first challenge was to get the time to sit down and even respond to the emails sent. I must confess that judging this contest came at a time when I was very busy, there’s work, and there’s school, and other projects I was working on. At some point I even forgot about the contest, until I checked the mail and saw all the entries. Now, I tried my best to acknowledge all entries sent. After the deadline, I copied all the qualified entries without the authors’ names and put them into a single word document. Then I was set for selecting the shortlist. It was even more difficult than I thought. I had to read every entry thoughtfully, carefully and with analytical eyes. After some weeks and with the help of a friend whose judgment I trust, I was able to come up with a shortlist of 10 entries. The most difficult task was selecting the best three. I narrowed it down to five entries. And that was where my real headache started. Selecting the best three out of those five was very difficult. I read them countless times, and every time, I felt they were all good. In the end after careful selection considering creativity, language, grammar, use of poetic devices, originality and other criteria, I was able to come up with the three winners.
Overall, it was a great experience and an eye-opener. And even though it took me a while, I’m glad that I was able to do it.
As one of the winners of the previous editions of the contest, how do you feel playing a judge?
Well, I feel excited. It was an honour to be considered fit to be the judge. It’s a beautiful experience. I’m delighted.
Total number of entries received?
There were about 163 entries, out of which 133 were qualified for consideration.
What are your suggestions for the improvement of the contest?
I suggest the rules be made clearer to the audience. About 30 people sent poems instead of prose. Secondly, a clear timetable should be given for the moderator to follow, so as to avoid delays. Thirdly, I suggest a compensation prize for some outstanding entries.
Would you mind playing same role of a judge in the next edition of the contest?
It would be an honor for me to do it again.
What do you have to say to the winners?
To the winners, I would like to say they got where they are today by the sharpness of their wits, the depth of their creativity and the resilience of their pens. They shouldn’t relent. They should aspire for more. And most importantly, they shouldn’t think they’ve got it all. There’s always more to learn. After all, life always has something to teach us. Thank you so much.
Is there any last comment you may want to drop?
Overall, I think the poetically written prose contest by GlassDoor Nigeria is a great initiative that will help in promoting literary activities in Nigeria. And I believe with these kinds of moves the future looks bright. I hope that other people and organizations will work on creating similar platforms. Thank you.