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Theresa Lola wins 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize

By Nkem Egenuka on Tue, 15/05/2018 - 19:40

Nigerian Poet Teresa Lola has been named a joint winner of the Brunel International African Poetry Prize alongside Hiwot Adilow (Ethiopia) and Momtaza Mehri (Somalia).

Theresa fought off strong competition from over 1000 international entrants and was awarded one of the three top prizes of £1000.

She started her writing career having being inspired by Nigerian poets she saw during a school trip to the Lagos Poetry Festival when she was 12 years old.

Lola said that winning the Brunel International African Poetry Prize makes her feel like she is doing her job right.  She hopes that winning the Brunel International African Poetry Prize would help her achieve her goal and boost her poetry career.

Teresa is an amazing poet and her poems are characterized with interesting imageries.

Below are some of her poems.


Portrait of My Father as a Dead Man

While painting a portrait of my father as a dead man, I am also cooking dinner. I gorge out my father’s eyes and blend them with the red peppercorn seeds to heighten the sting of the soup’s spice.

Call me a cowardice, he is asleep, tired from work, even made time to ask how my day was.

I cut my father’s spine like it is the water leaf I am chopping to make eforiro soup. In his portrait I paint his bones as a white caterpillar, the kind that never grows into a butterfly.

You think killing a man is enough to give you peace, but his body will collapse onto a seesaw that springs up all the buried trauma from the past.

To complete my meal, I peel off his black skin and blend it until it looks like Amala. I try to continue the painting of my father as a dead man, but truth is I want to feel his approval, to hear him clap at the brilliance of my talent. My father’s health has been failing anyway, a cyst in his kidney, a nose operation, a dim eyesight. My father’s eyesight is so poor he bumps into my ghosts and calls them obstructing decorations.

Before I began this painting, my father said art will not pay me as much as becoming a chartered accountant, but the world loves commodifying pain, this portrait of my father as a dead man should make me rich.


Black Marilyn

Today I woke up surprised I was still alive,
last thing I remember was my body swinging
from a ceiling of inadequacies.
In my head I have died in so many ways
I must be a god the way I keep resurrecting
into prettier caskets.

In Lagos, a photograph of Marilyn Monroe watches me
in my hotel room as I scrub my body
like it’s a house preparing for an estate agent’s visit.
I think Marilyn wants to say something to me,
the way her mouth is always open
like a cheating husband’s zipper.

My mind carries more weapons
than all war-torn countries combined.
Every day I survive is worth a medal or two.
I celebrate by buying more clothes than I can afford.
I must be rich, my void is always building
a bigger room to accommodate new things.

Marilyn’s photographer, Lawrence Schiller, said
Marilyn was afraid that she was nothing
more than her beauty.
You can call me arrogant, call me black Marilyn,
come celebrate with me,
I am so beautiful death can’t take its eyes off me.


Short Biography of the Poet

Theresa Lola was poet born in 1994.  She was shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize 2017, the London Magazine Poetry Prize 2016 and she won the Hammer and Tongue National Poetry Slam in 2017. Theresa is an alumna of the Barbican Young Poets programme. She was awarded an Arts Council/British Council International Development Grant to run poetry workshops at the Lagos International Poetry Festival in Nigeria in 2017.






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