Divine Ega Mfam (Festival Rapporteur)
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, “Poets, Poetry and the Pandemic” was the chosen concern of Festival Poetry Calabar (FPC), 2021. The festival hosted her 7th annual festive occasion in the calm and serene city of Calabar from 17th to 19th of December.
The event kick-started with a “Walk for Poetry” which has now metamorphosed into, “Charity Walk for Poetry” — a medium for giving back to the community/society. This was anchored by Ambassador Prince and Vic’adex, a visiting poet. And at several stops, poets filled the air with their thrilling and eargasmic rendition of poetry. Performing were; Odd Felix Ayuk — 24 years, Michael Idio — Love song, Michael King Esukpa — White, black and butterflies, etc. The Charity Walk for Poetry which finished at the Motherless babies home, Uwanse had the LOC secretary, Miss Elizabeth Ita address the kids, and gifted packages of good tidings which the kids reciprocated by singing Christmas carols.
Also, the first of its kind ever in the history of FPC, “Kids Festival” which has now been incorporated into the main event, kicked off at the, “American Corner, Parliamentary, Calabar. With children spanning from all over Calabar metropolis, including Big quo, eight miles, Calabar south, etc. The event which held the main focus to breed youngsters into developing passion for poetry and art in general was anchored by Miss Ifunanya Juliet Ottih and Miss Minka.
Day two(2) of the festival opened up with the pre-slam contest with attendees anxiously listening in on punch lines and crunchy phrases to snap their fingers to, having Worden Enya, Vic’adex and Vivian Ofere as the judges, with one of Calabar’s finest poets, Ifeanyi Agwazia as the anchor.
Adding to the many delicacies of poetry served, was the stage production: The Twist, which was an adoption of the book, “The Divorce”. And as the name of the play implies, it held buckets of suspense leaving the audience in utter speculation and make-believe. The cast included Ambassador Prince, McWylie Temple, et al.
Rounding off the festival on Day three (3), many captivating activities were held and this did not exclude the poetry gallery which showcased excerpts of poems from various poets, and had PIN interning assistant secretary, Ifunanya Juliet and lead rep. PIN CRUTECH, MichaelKing Esukpa as moderators for the session. And giving an opening speech, LOC chairman, Mr Bassey Asuquo pointed out on the relevance of creativity and poetry even during the pandemic. And of course, Miss Elizabeth Ita, gave her keynote address capturing the thematic concern of the festival, “Poets, Poetry and the Pandemic”. She stated;
“Poetry is a form of communication and poets are great at communication. It is in the midst of chaos that has even brought about one of the gifts the pandemic gave to us, which is time. We need poems to remind us why the world is worth saving.”
For the 7th edition of FPC, the “Calabar Welcomes” broke up in cultural ballad performed in the indigenous Efik language and this was delivered by Miss Florence Ita and a folklore performance by Francis Essien. Followed next, was a book chat session moderated by Joy Offere, interrogating Mr. Bassey Asuquo’s, “Pretty Face Mary and Other Poems”, and Worden Enya’s, “Wahala Wear Suit and Tie”. The later author spoke on his book, where he said;
” Wahala has become fashionable and that’s why it seems to wear a suit and a tie.”
Mr Bassey Asuquo also stated how the pandemic affected his writing, in his words he said;
“It gave more time to reflect on old works and shape them into finer words”.
The festival had a grand closure with an infusion of poetry, rap, music rendition and dance performances: The Cabaret. With an overflown hall all in keen attention, listening to performances from Speechful, David, Jim poet, Isaac Daniel, Psalms, Wordsmith, Odd Felix, Priest, Worden, Vivian, Jemimah Jones, and Ifeanyi Agwazia who announced the poetry slam winner.
The LOC chairman, Mr. Bassey Asuquo expressed his gratitude to the LOC and entire audience, announcing, Ifeanyi Agwazia as the new LOC secretary including nine (9) other persons forming the LOC, spanning from 2022 through 2024. The 15th through 17th of December, 2022 was announced as dates for next year’s festival.
For the poetry slam, Francis, Solomon Godson and Keesh Rowland were selected after a thorough judging process as first, second and third position respectively who expounded, to the panel’s satisfaction, on the theme for the festival.
Photographs, gleeful interactions, and music dispersed the audience to bid good bye.
Divine Ega Mfam (Festival Rapporteur) is a graduate of Microbiology, but doubles as a writer and poet who uses her words as a tool for impact and change. She is the winner of Michael Efenfia’s “EndSars poetry competition 2020” and has other works published on online poetry magazines. You can reach Divine through her Instagram handle, “divine.ega” and email at, [email protected]