Lagos-based young poet, career coach and youth capacity developer, Emmanuel Faith, chats with Ridwan Adelaja after emerging as the 2019 winner of the WRR sponsored Albert Jungers Poetry Prize.
What inspired your winning piece?
“Well, the theme for that particular month was ‘Rhyme for Children’”
“I played back my childhood memories and realised things were quite plain then. We do not have to pretend about our feelings: when a child is hungry, he cries; when he is happy, he smiles. But now as adults, we hide our emotions and mask a lot of feelings that should be expressed.
Depression and Suicide
“This is what I captured in my entry, linking it to why people get depressed and maybe attempt suicide.”
WRR had revealed that the new development for the prize was to select the best piece from all received entries for its monthly Brigitte Poison Poetry Contest. I thought of asking about this. And he confirmed he was a regular entrant.
“I am a familiar name with the Brigitte Poirson Poetry competition which is a monthly competition preliminary to the Albert Jungers.
“Maybe I am obsessed with poetry. I featured on the shortlist nearly all the time.”
I know how one can anxiously long for contest results and get uncontrollably nervous -more especially when one feels one's entry is a killer masterpiece. This, however, was not the case for Emmanuel Faith. He told me he wasn't really expecting a win, and explained how entering for contests was only a way to stay relevant -so to speak.
“I basically write every month to keep my creative (poetry) part alive.
“I am always delighted and “satisfied” with being a finalist, to me, it meant I was still a good poet.
“In fact, I was totally surprised when I saw that I was nominated for the AJPP.”
With the 2019 Albert Jungers Prize in the bag, how do you feel?
“I feel excited and elated. It is a great encouragement for me to keep writing poetry and probably come out of my shell more next year and make more submissions to other platforms.
“Who knows, I might get published on brittle paper and Kalahari review. I might even be your next Brunel prize winner.”
I have seen people dump writing (poetry inclusive) in the past for petty reasons: ranging from “it doesn’t put food on the table" to “I have been too busy lately”. To help people pick a lesson or two, I prayed Emmanuel to share his work background with me -and, how he has been managing to combine passion and profession.
“I am a Process Analyst at GE, I majorly manage relationship with channel partners and third parties, ensuring compliance and risk mitigation during the process.
“My company is quite big. On living a balanced life, I am quite deliberate about expressing my artistic side.
“My P.A, John Phoebe, also helps me too as she ensures that I keep to my personal deliverables outside my 9-5 engagement.”
“I read about 100 books annually”
“I love writing, counselling and reading.
“I read 104 books last year and (as of Monday, December 9) I am currently on my 91st book for the year.
“I enjoy volunteering, capacity building and other related activities and I often speak at career and employability related events.”
What are your dislikes?
“Well, I loathe idleness. I find it really intriguing when people say they are bored because at every point in time I am almost always busy with two or more tasks or projects.
“I also dislike deceit, camouflage and other hypocritical demeanor.”
And before we called it a wrap, Emmanuel Faith has this piece of advice for younger poets.
“Keep reading and keep writing. Writing is just like any other art, you have to keep developing. I have read over 20 anthologies this year.
“The advice is to keep learning and experimenting. I personally love rhymes and rhythms, and I believe in very structured poems but now I write free verses effortlessly while still maintaining my expertise with rhymes and rhythm.
“So keep reading, keep writing and don’t be afraid to share your work with the world.”