More than 700 submissions are jostling for the top prize in what may be described as the ‘battle of the wits’ in the 2023 poetry challenge of Zacchaeus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries (ZODML) a non-profit organization.
The challenge, with the theme ’Motherhood’ is open to students in public tertiary institutions in Nigeria, is aimed to inculcate a competitive spirit among students in the country, as well as challenge them to think intellectually.
According to Ifeoma Esiri, the brain behind ZODML, while sharing insights on the ‘Poetry Challenge’, the competition has the tendency to awaken the creative process in the students.
In constructing a poem for the Challenge, students will develop skills of creative self-expression and experimentation with language. The Challenge will set them to think and then prepare and formulate their thoughts.
On the choice of a ‘Poetry Challenge’ Esiri stated that the students that join the challenge would be exposed to good literature as they would need to read literary works to do well adding that it would allow them to acquire language skills leading to better performance in their studies.
“I strongly believe that the Challenge will make for disciplined, well-organised students with a will to compete and win. After the Challenge is over, this discipline and orderliness will become part of other aspects of their lives. It will inspire them, they will gain competence, and that will give them confidence,” she said.
In addition, Esiri noted that the challenge received 791 submissions out of which 232 were rejected for various reasons, adding that the number would further be narrowed down to 10 finalists which would be announced on Mother’s Day, which is May 14, 2023 in line with the challenge’s theme of motherhood.
Meanwhile, the challenge will culminate in an award event in the presence of stakeholders of the literary community in Nigeria.
The overall winner will receive a N100,000 cash prize, while four runners-up will get N10,000 each.
To ensure the challenge receives the transparent process it deserves, a panel of three judges, consisting of notable poets and authors, will oversee the judging process.
They include Tade Ipadeola as the chairman. He is a multiple award-winning author in prose and poetry who writes in Yoruba and English. His collections of poems ‘The Sahara Testaments’ won the prestigious Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2013.
Other judges are Aduke Gomez, a poet and author of children’s stories, and Achalugo Chioma Ilozumba, an award-winning playwright.
ZODML is a non-profit organisation based in Lagos, working in the education sector of the economy.
Since its inception in 2000, it has established 54 libraries, 34 in local government primary schools in Lagos and Anambra States, and 19 in custodial centres across Nigeria and one community library.