Phiri’s ‘Bitter Tales’ wins Dede Kamkondo poetry contest

A 33 year-old Blantyre based marketer-cum-budding poet Paul Sezzie Phiri has emerged winner in the Dede Kamkondo Poetry Contest – beating 37 other Malawian entrants who entered the contest with his poem Bitter Tales, organisers have told Nyasa Times.

Phiri’s poem was selected as the most creative poem by celebrated internationally renowned youthful Malawian writers Stanley Kenani and Shadreck Chikoti who judged the competition.

“Bitter Tales was chosen as number one mainly because of its originality and creativity,” Kenani and Chikoti said in a joint statement made available to Nyasa Times.

The second and third best were Raped Dreams and Desperate by Mzuzu University (Mzuni) arts student Martin Zoloni and Lilongwe based mechanic Mervyn Naphiyo respectively.

Phiri, the winning poet

In a telephone interview with Nyasa Times, Phiri almost choked with joy.

“What? I’m so excited. It is an encouragement to me,” said Phiri, a Domasi College of Education graduate now working as a marketer at Alliance Freight Services Limited in Malawi’s commercial capital.

But the judges noted that the quality of the entries fell below international standards.

“Strictly speaking, none of the poems submitted deserved to be named winner, considering the many misgivings. Each poem has weaknesses you do not expect to see in works that want to be considered as winners in any competition.

“While the three winning poems have mostly been picked on the basis of creativity, the desire to use rhyme led to mediocre poetry. Mediocrity should never be rewarded,” said Kenani who chaired the panel of judges instead of Prof. Felix Munthali who couldn’t make it due to logistical challenges.

Kenani added: “[But the poems] were slightly more improved in quality that we have seen on the local scene in local competitions – especially those in which I took part in judging.”

According to Malawi Heat   director Towera Kamkondo – daughter to fallen Malawi literary great Wisdom Kamkondo – who donated the prize money the first, second and third positions will get 100, 30 and 20 US dollars each respectively.

“I’m delighted that Malawi Heat has made such an impact on the local Malawi scene,” said Kamkondo. “As a company and an online youth magazine that promotes talent we’ll continue to do more.”

Kamkondo said if more sponsors come up, the prizes are going to be hiked in next year’s contest.

The poems that entered the competition were sought from youthful Malawian poets not more than 35 years old.

The Malawi Heat  established last July, is a website about Malawi arts and entertainment whose aim is to promote local talent in Malawi.

The poem can be read on this link

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