Back in June, the Embassy of Ireland in Nigeria launched a writing competition in celebration of Bloomsday.

Bloomsday is the commemoration of the life and works of the great Irish writer James Joyce. Every year on June 16, fans all over the world celebrate Joyce’s extraordinary life and the global impact of his writing.

The embassy put out a call for poems that explored the theme of isolation. The winner had to be a Nigerian citizen and was set to win 50,000 NGN and publication on Brittle Paper. On the judging panel are Aduke Gomez, Kólá Tubosun, Dr Adrian Paterson, Ryan Lally, Dr Fiona Bateman, Benson Eluma, and Ronan Mullin. 

750 entries were received, 8 poems shortlisted, and one winner selected. The winner is Ibe Obasiota Ben for her poem “A Body in Repose.” 

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Stephen Oriyomi Ogunfoworin‘s poem “There Are No Recordings of My Mother” won second place in the competition, whereas Pèlúmi Sàlàkó‘s poem “A Desolate House” won third place.

The judges remarked that Ibe Obiosata Ben’s winning poem “captured the newness and anxiety found in the long periods of isolation brought on by lockdowns across the world while also serving well as a standalone poem on the primordial theme of isolation itself.”

Obasiota Ben “is a graduate in English and Literary Studies. She has won the African Writers’ Trust Award 2018 as well as the Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest Friendship Edition 2020, has been shortlisted for the Kreative Diadem Annual Writing Competition 2019 and longlisted for the Nigerian Students’ Poetry Prize (NSPP) 2019. She writes from Calabar, Nigeria.”

Read “A Body in Repose” here.