Tag Archives: afam akeh

De Motu Cordis (On the Motion of the Heart) by Heather Combe

We have yet to explain, however, in what manner the blood finds its way back to the heart from the extremities by the veins, and how and in what way these are the only vessels that convey the blood from the external to the central parts.
– William Harvey (1578–1657). On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Her slender arm is clasped in his hand.
One finger softly brushes translucent skin,
feeling her fluttering pulse quicken.
Tracing fragile veins, from elbow to wrist.

Part of him longs to take a scalpel,
and part her skin, like stage curtains.
Hungering to explore her circulation;
to reveal the intricacies of her anatomy.

She shudders. Picturing again the animals,
still breathing, splayed in his study.
The mewling cries, the scalpel’s glint;
his notebooks full of precise sketches.

An intense stare and narrowed eyes,
her husband, pathologically curious.
Enslaved to the pursuit of Knowledge,
that most insatiable mistress.

Despite herself, she craves these moments.
The unexpected thrill of his gentle touch,
the novelty of his breath on her neck,
and the subtle warmth of his skin on hers.

Too soon, he will return to his research.
Immersed again, in miniature anatomical worlds.
And with heavy heart she will wait, hopeful,
that one day he will find his way home.

De Motu Cordis (On the Motion of the Heart) by Heather Combe was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh.

Vintage Song by Anne M Carson

St Andrews, Victoria

Grapes move inexorably towards ripeness. Inside the berry,
behind its fleshy walls – the mechanics of veraison. Acid

levels fall, sugars rise, the flesh dehydrates, phenols and
tannins grow fat with flavour. Little factory, humming with

alchemy, broadcasting musky perfume into the autumn
air, wave after waft of sweet enticement. The aromas are

streamers the fruit unfurls into the atmosphere, festooning
the vineyard with the intoxicating odours of harvest. Once,

grapes were blessed before vintage, a priest in regalia
sprinkled holy water over the vines. Vestiges remain of the

blesséd grape; mythic presence, thrum of spirit. Festivities
celebrate the crop – laden tables adorned with grape-leaf

foliage, glasses boasting previous vintages, friends proposing
toasts. Happiness to have the harvest home. Before the feast –

the delicate balance of sugar-levels and picking-friendly
weather. Humans are on hand with measuring devices and

daily readings; instruments and science pick the exact moment.
Birds fly in early with special picking teams, preferring their

grapes on the tart side of sweet. They discern the perfect timing
for their forays with only fragrance to guide them – fine natural

viticulturists, regardless of weather. Scores of Silver Eyes find
tears in the nets, waiting in orderly aerial queues like planes

in airport landing patterns, co-operative and collision-free
without traffic control. Bird after patient bird flies through

holes smaller than a child’s fist, keeping entries separate from
exits. Vociferous local Gang Gangs troupe in for the day,

return home to roost each night. Pied Currawongs become
familiars in daily-ness, arriving en masse to take up temporary

residence. Their vestments are formal. They decorate dusty paths
with brilliant blood-red splats studded with ruby gems; startling

splotches of colour which brighten the dull dun and tan bush.
They announce the season, the readiness of the crop. A single

bird initiates the call, anticipates antiphonal response. It rings
out onomatopoeic; currrawong, currawong, currawong.

Volleys of sound echo the valley; dawn greetings warbled
into pristine cold mornings, chansons chanted into crisp-

skinned days, solos sung into the descending chill of dusk:
beautiful, haunting. Each phrase tapers to eerie vibrato,

finishes with rising intonation. In secular times, the birds
offer the vineyard the simple grace of choral benediction.

Vintage Song by Anne M Carson was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh

Sight Beyond by Audrey Ardern-Jones

I’ve pencil-sketched threads of light
across a black-blue sky
spread from a crack on the horizon
of a restless ocean;

I’ve veined in lit rivulets
across a summer moon
and the intricate splinters of saffron glass
in the eye of a caged eagle;

I’ve mixed cadmium pale yellow
with cerulean for the inside tone
of a portrait, used Windsor lemon
and cobalt violet for filigrees of an iris;

but it’s the blind girl I met in Waitrose
with tinted glasses that I want to paint
her air of something
I could neither touch nor know.

Sight Beyond by Audrey Ardern-Jones was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh

Keats on the Moon by Al McClimens

As he made his way down the ladder,
nervous as a kid on a climbing frame,
he was still rehearsing the lines
in his head. The sun struck sparks
off his spacesuit, tinting the scene with sepia
while up above the command module
skedaddled across the sky like a firefly
as the stars flared and died. Below him
the crescent of home sank in the blackness.
That is all ye know on Earth, he thought,
and all ye need to know.
When his boot
touched the surface his heart burst
and he knew the words he had to say
were useless but he said them anyway.

Keats on the Moon by Al McClimens was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh

Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015

For original poems in English Language on any subject, in any style up to 60 lines long.
Prizes: £700, £350, £175 and 5 x £55
Judge: Afam Akeh
Learn more and enter now here:
Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition.


Voice of America at the Southbank Centre

This gallery contains 4 photos.

by NNOROM AZUONYE Monday, January 31st, 2011, an earlier meeting of the day had gone on too long, but I managed to get to the Southbank Centre, London at about 7.55pm. I was not worried about missing anything. Inside my … Continue reading

Nigerian writers out to support their own EC Osondu

Picture of author, E C Osondu

EC Osondu, winner of the 2009 Caine Prize, reads from his debut collection of short stories, Voice of America. Set in Nigeria and America, the subjects of these stories range from the poverty of a refugee camp to the disorienting experience of immigrant life in a new world. Focusing on village communities and the bustling metropolis, Osondu’s writing is shot through with humour, pathos and wisdom.

The event is chaired by Bernardine Evaristo, author of Soul Tourists and Blonde Routes.

‘Osondu looks at the human condition in all its poignant absurdity; with observant wonder and subtle humour.’  – (Mary Gaitskill) In association with African Writers’ Series.

Nigerian writing community in the UK, including Nnorom Azuonye, Publisher of Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Chuma Nwokolo, Publisher of African Writing, and poets Afam Akeh, Ike Anya, and Lookman Sanusi among others  will be out there to support and hear Osondu read his work.

It is at the Southbank Centre in London at 7:45pm. Get your tickets  now.

Buy tickets here: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/find/literature-spoken-word/tickets/ec-osondu-55955


Related article:

E.C. Osondu’s “Waiting”

a review by Nnorom Azuonye

Another quick read of E.C. Osondu’s Waiting flags it up as a brilliantly-written tale. It easy to see why this story won The Caine Prize for African Writing 2009.

Waiting could easily have been titled The Tragedy of Acapulco; the boy caught in a seemingly endless wait for an American family to adopt him and take him away from the drudgery of life in a refugee camp. But it is also the tragedy of Orlando – Acapulco’s campmate – a fictive, aspiring author whom Osondu would have us deem the author of the story in Waiting. The story appears to be a faster-moving mirror of the absurd lives of Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot– mentioned in the story, which sort of throws us off the scent a little, but as Orlando and Acapulco play out the stasis of their sorry lives in that refugee camp with measured but highly effective pathos, Acapulco is in reality more like Pepel and Orlando like Luka is Gorki’s The Lower Depths. WithAcapulco asking endless questions and Orlando – the wise one having all the answers without really answering any questions factually.

One thing that is very disturbing in Waiting is that the residents of the camp are nameless, adopting names inscribed on T-shirts, and their back stories are not explored, perhaps deliberately, giving the lives of people like Acapulco and Orlando a wholesome rootlessness.  

Life in the refugee camp is quite harrowing; waiting and fighting for food and water which might not materialise, as all resources are subject to the humour of the ‘enemy’ and if they would allow the Red Cross to bring supplies to the camp. Like the victims of the plane crash in the film, Alive, who cooked their friends in snow and ate them for sustenance, it was horrible to read how the residents of the camp killed and ate the black dogs that had been their allies and protectors, and how this betrayal of the animals turned them into a wild pack of man-eaters who eventually dismembered a toddler with savage teeth.

Although Orlando’s way is quite different from Acapulco’s, the former reads books, gains knowledge and seems to have some control of his life and is in the good books of Sister Nora, while the latter lives inside his head where there is cacophony, with a diseased ear and a stench that keeps people away, it is difficult to shake the feeling that neither Orlando nor Acapulco would get out of the refugee camp on the wings of his heart’s desire. Hence in true tradition of the absurd, there is really neither a conflict raised nor a resolution achieved. Like those who wait for God to come and he never comes, or he comes and walks by and they don’t see him, and they continue to wait, and wait.

Acapulco has something going for him though. He reasons that he may never get adopted and considers joining the Youth Brigade, but is dissuaded by the stories that members are given drugs and made to drink blood. It does appear the Youth Brigade might indeed be his only way out, like taking his own affairs in his own hands like Nwokedi in the Esiaba Irobi play who argues that “When we wait for God to act and God does not act, we take up the role of God and act. That’s why he made us in his own image.” For Orlando, finishing his book and becoming a bestselling author might be his own way out.

As it is, Waiting appears to be an excerpt from a longer narrative, and I suspect E.C. Osondu may be persuaded to stretch it into  full length novel. It will be exciting to see the directions the lives of Orlando and Acapulco go. Perhaps, Acapulco would indeed join the Youth Brigade and rise to become general in the Enemy’s army, perhaps a rebel leader of the land, whilst Orlando gets to be the writer with a conscience and a thorn in his side.

An outstanding achievement, Waiting is written in vernacular. I hear the Igbo in the English Language construction and some direct onomatopoeic insinuations are cheerful, such as Dakota, which literally means to fall together in Igbo. For a piece of prose the economy of words in Waiting is almost like what one would expect of poetry. In this story, Osondu displays a matured storytelling skill, a keen sense of setting and an astute ear for dialogue. Beautiful.

This review of ‘Waiting’ was first published in Sentinel Literary Quarterly in July 2009 at http://www.sentinelpoetry.org.uk/slq2.4/essays/nnorom.azuonye.html