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Ejiro Elizabeth Edward is one of the winners of the ANTOA Writing Contest: Stories That Touch in 2021–the first edition of its kind.

The young African writer has been published in Hoax Publication, Heartland Women Magazine, Olney, and Olongo among others.

Her forthcoming works would be published in due time on Native Skin, Isele Magazine, and Pepper Lit.

She is currently a student at the University of Benin and a member of the Deadliners.

Exclusive Interview With Ejiro Elizabeth

Tell us, what inspired your poem “Reparations”?

I was inspired by the events happening in Nigeria over the years. The most significant that struck me was the End Sars protest. I felt the need to disarm the poem of violence, hence the opening line:

“ There are no guns in this poem”.

It was a form of reflection beyond the struggles of Nigerians. Looking beyond our shores, the year 2021 was a year of a massive Black movement that followed after the death of George Floyd.

These events across the world birthed Reparations.

Everyone has a story. How did you pick interest in writing?

As a child, I was a vivacious reader. I remember reading “ Boy on a swing” in secondary school. And “The sun on this rubble” is one beautiful poem I’ll never forget.

I didn’t know about my ability to write until I finished secondary school. And it was poetry that came easily to me. Poetry was a means of escaping from myself–to write out my pain and struggles. The things I couldn’t tell people, I told them through poetry.

Who are your favorite African poets and why?

It takes certain guts to write and not just write but to write your truth fiercely and that is what I aim to do when writing. One person who reflects this is Romeo Orogun. He is one of my favorite African poets and of course, he’s Nigerian.

My dearest poet is Warsan Shire of Somalia descent. I fell in love with Warsan shire and how she was able to infuse the art of storytelling into poetry. When I read her, I knew that this was what I wanted to do.

Elizabeth, do you have a favorite place to write?

The way I think about it, it’s not about the place but more about the time.

I love to write in the dead of the night. When I can process all my thoughts. But if I were to pick a place to write. It would be by the beach and of course in the comfort of a beach house.

Honestly, I do not think I have a favorite place to write. As soon as a poem comes, I write 🙂

As a young writer, where do you see yourself in the nearest future?

In a year or two, I earnestly desire to be doing my MFA in  Creative Writing. I would love to be a Professor sharing my knowledge with the next generation.

Reparations By Ejiro Elizabeth Edward

Reparations

There are no guns in this poem,

no black bodies on the floor

or hands hallelujah-ing to the sky,

exhaling death

only black skins singing in complementary keys

& these are my people,

Whose tongues have been rolled with a language that lurks in dark alleys, beats up our mother-tongue & rifles through other languages claiming them as vocabularies

Whose sunshine laughter falls out of their tongue,

Whose tongues  are wrapped in loss,

Yet unwrapping it with love like moi-moi leaves,

& these are my people of leathered skin

Of Oshun energy

Made of water,             made of gin,

Of blood sprinkled to Orisha

Of waist beads from Yoruba

& these are my people with no laid edges,

of dreaded hair , of black tits , of shriveled hair ,

of dancing brown eyes,

Children of blood & bones.

Find her on Twitter: Ejiroedward552

Instagram: Ejiro Elizabeth Edward.

By Elijah Christopher

 

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Elijah Christopher is a lifelong creative artist and a journalist for “A New Touch Of Africa”, an American news media and magazine focusing on Africa-related issues, fashion, new technologies and innovations. He has contributed to several published works, most notably a collaborative poem celebrating Scottish poet Edwin Morgan and in 2021 was the winner of the DIAJ Award for his photo-artistry.

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