“The Power of Oryza Sativa” is a food poem narrated in a dramatic form. Despite its enduring length, it is worth reading as it narrates a story of the world’s leading staple food— rice. Research shows that between 2009-2019 there was a continuous increase in global rice consumption. From 437.18 million metric tons in 2009 to 486. 62 million metric tons in 2019. The world has never ceased to crave for this food! Aisagbondu Success, in this poem, writes a long, profuse and emotion-laden eulogy to rice. She presents Oryza Sativa to us as a charming damsel, a queen of the food runway, who is proud to flaunt her world-wide glamour:

She appears in the room

The air is covered with her perfume

of curry and thyme

Clothed with designers of tomato paste…

Her seductive eyes call the guest…


Her bag is designed

With green peas and vegetables…

Her waist is surrounded

with expensive beads of carrot

And the ladies envy her beauty

Her lips are coated with salt

Tempting everyone to have a taste

The power of oryza sativa

Before the appearance of rice “in the room”, Success tells us that “The room seemed quiet like a grave yard/And the guests have refused to smile”. In stanza one, she describes the sorry state of the guests waiting for the arrival of rice at the party:

—their “stomachs and intestines are squelching and speaking with anger”

—their lips are telling the story of hunger.

—their eyes are dim, having kept awake for long for what they truly want to eat.

Just yesterday, I personally witnessed this torment. My hungry body bore witness to the tortuous experience of waiting for food to get done. I was in the sitting room trying hard to concentrate on my writing with pangs of hunger, yawning mouth, rumbling tummy and dim eyes that kept darting at the direction of the kitchen. Just as the guests in Success’ poem “refused to smile”, I couldn’t smile until my sister placed a steaming plate of rice and catfish pepper soup on the dining table. I smiled.

However, if you follow the drama in Success’ “The Power of Oryza Sativa”, you would be shocked that even after the fried rice is placed on the table, the hungry guests could not set to eat. According to the poet narrator, the rice “sits uneasily with worries” on the dining table. Why? Because the chef had forgotten to add something, as such she wears a mournful look as “tears roll down her checks”.

What could be wrong? The chefs wonder. Then it clicks, alas! “Prince chicken is missing”

As one who forgot something

Tears roll down on her checks

Chefs wonder what could be wrong

As they hurriedly check the menu

Discovering that prince chicken is missing

For the power of oryza sativa

Does not seem complete without him

Guests plead with her

This is a true analogy of what happens in every home; in every party where rice is missing from the food menu or where it is not served properly with meat and fish.

Written in the dramatic, this food poem is full of

  • the sad
  • the exciting
  • and the shocking

Stanza 1 exposes a sad situation—hunger.

Stanzas 2 and 3 raise a ray of hope—food.

However, in stanza 4, things take a shocking dramatic twist. The food seems to be taken away immediately it is served. The climax of the dramatic narration lies in the later part of the fourth stanza, leading to a resolution in the fifth stanza and a happy ending in the last stanza.

At each point that marks a transition from one stage to another, the poet repeats “the power of Oryza Sativa” to remind us of the theme. This is found in the following lines;

Line 9, here it is used to show the sad exposition of events due to the absence of “the power of Oryza Sativa”

In lines 18 and 27 it is repeated, this time, happily to signify the happiness that comes with the appearance of rice.

However, this joy is jeopardized from line 28, prompting another sad repetition of the phrase in lines 34 and 43. This time signifying the climax of the crisis that nearly mars the marriage ceremony between fried rice and chicken.

Thankfully, there is a soothing repetition of “the power of Oryza Sativa” in line 52, marking the arrival of “prince chicken on the menu”, that is, the wedding venue. Finally, the poem ends happily with the same phrase in line 62 as the couple are wedded in holy culinary.

Despite its prolonged length, Success Aisagbondu’s poem is among the winning poems entered for the 2018 PIN FOOD POETRY CONTEST for the following reasons;

(1) Its uniqueness: it focuses on one type of food—rice

(2) Its form: which is composite of the narratory and the dramatic.

(3) Its Language: The language is both prosaic and poetic. He switches between the prosaic to narrate, and the poetic to demonstrate. Her choice of words flows from the sensual to fashion-like, to pageantry, to culinary, to that of solemnization and to the celebratory. She uses simple words and descriptive lines, with easy flow of run-on lines.

Like other poems in this collection, the poet uses personification to beautify her cooking. Rice is referred as she/her in:

– she carries her bag

– she appears in the room

– the air is covered with her perfume

– tears roll down her eyes.


Prince Chicken is referred as he/his:

– he wears a black cap

– is surrounded by guards”

– is massaged

– is accompanied to receive blessings from the king.

Then, like a bride led to her groom, Oryza Sativa is “led to him in satisfaction/ As they have a warm embrace on the/table of the hungry guests”

Rice and chicken are imbued with the ability to walk, cry, dress, be worried and to be married!

There is equally a sprinkle of metaphors in these cooked words. Rice is directly compared to a bride, while chicken represents a royal groom. Weddings, the most beautiful celebration of love universally, is chosen by the poet to describe and compare the power of rice. To show the height, the depth and breadth of our love for her.

While I recommend this poem to all rice lovers, I must warn that the following set of people may not want to read it:

(1) If you are a very jealous or insecure lady. You will feel more inferior and jealous if you read all the words and makeups Success uses to beautify Oryza Sativa.

(2) To other types of food. If they can read, they may not want to read this poem. I bet they will be with filled with envy, rage and hate at the global popularity of rice as much as they already are by the way she outshines them in the food runway.

Happy sumptuous reading to the rest of us!



Moderator, PIN Annual Food Poetry Contest




THE POWER OF ORYZA SATIVA | Aisagbondu Success

Stomachs and intestines,

Squelching and speaking with anger

Striking its victims with pain.

Lips unfold the untold story of hunger.

Eyes are dim, not for age sake,

But for her absence.

The room seemed quiet like a grave yard,

And the guests have refused to smile.

The power of oryza sativa.


In a moment she appears in the room,

The air is covered with her perfume of curry and thyme.

Clothed with designers of tomato paste,

Her body moves rhythmically

To the instruction of the chefs.

Her seductive eyes call the guest,

And the children limped for joy!

And all screams

The power of oryza sativa!


Her bag is designed

With green peas and vegetables

And tied with a ball of spaghetti sauce.

Her waist is surrounded with expensive beads of carrot.

And the ladies envy her beauty

Her lips are coated with salt

Tempting everyone to have a taste.

The power of oryza sativa!


She sits uneasily with worries

As one who forgot something.

Tears roll down on her checks,

Chefs wonder what could be wrong,

As they hurriedly check the menu,

Discovering that prince chicken is missing

For the power of oryza sativa

Does not seem complete without him.

Guests plead with her

And chefs all move with light’s speed

To call prince chicken from the kitchen

Though he’s dressed but is unhappy

As he waits for the clothing of ingredients

And magic transformation,

Like a sleeping beauty waiting for her prince,

to awake her with the power of Oryza sativa.


He then wears the black cap of black pepper,

And is surrounded with the guards of onions and garlic.

He is massaged properly with spices of curry, thyme and chillies,

And the salt is sprinkled on him for good taste.

Rosemary and cayenne pepper are sent to accompany him

To the room of the 3500C oven.

To receive the blessings of the king;

to share the power of Oryza sativa,

which makes everyone hungry.


He comes out in glamour,

His dark brown skin reveals the beauty of Africa diversity.

Walking in the steps of ceramic plates,

Oryza is comforted as she smells his alluring

Perfume, that smells like the perfume of palatability.

She’s led to him in satisfaction,

As they have a warm embrace on the table of the hungry guests.

As they fill their stomachs

With the touch of Oryza sativa and prince chicken.

Exclaiming the power of Oryza sativa!

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