Sunday, August 21, 2016

CLAP FOR ME, OR I CLAP FOR MYSELF: MY WRR STORY


In August 2012, what many of you know today as WRR, began as a Facebook page – Words Rhymes And Rhythm. The page was largely for self promotion and the name was taken from my old poetry notepad on which I first wrote the words WORDS RHYMES & RHYTHM in 2002/3. It was to be the title of my first collection of poems. At the time, most of my poems had meter, rhyme or both.

Anyway, through the year 2013, the page grew to from my one like, thousands, fuelled by the brewing interest in poetry and the focus on young and largely ignored poets and the support of people like Sir Eriata Oribhabor, Dike Chukwumerije, Elaine Polin, Bridgite Poirson, Albert Jungers and Passy Amaraegbu. We soon became a force to reckon with, stoking the skills of many a young poet with the social interaction platform, as WRR was then know. We had subdivisions from the main WRR – VerseUp, Poetivists and Authorpedia (later we added the WRR College of Poetry).

That was the year I published my first book, WHAT CAN WORDS DO. I was still a newspaper journalist then. How I managed to find funds for running my contests and time to keep everything going smoothly still amazes me. It meant a lot of late nights. I was indoors on my PC almost every hour of the day. It led to a health challenge that nearly saw me operated on for what I thought was brain tumor then.

It was worth it. Everything. That year and the following year, I topped the EGC ranking of poets that rocked Nigeria. It was an unprecedented back-to-back hit no one has replicated.

By the year 2014, we had over 4000 likes. My relocation to Lagos, away from print journalism changed the face of WRR. At the end of 2014, I began to make moves to make WRR a formal organization. 

With more funds at my disposal, we started an upgrade, starting with a full-fledged website – WWW.WRR.NG (with www.college.wrr.ng for the college; www.poetry.wrr.ng for the poetry sharing platform; www.authorpedia.wrr.ng for the literary promotion website; and www.verseup.wrr.ng for the women abuse poetry movement). We even had a short-lived app.

It was in 2014 that Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom became an integral member of WRR and he has since served as the Chief Operating Officer like a Yale education executive. His immense contribution to WRR cannot be overstated, especially as he had to do that alongside running his degree program at the University of Ibadan.

2015 saw us grow socially and formally. We got registered as a company with the Corporate Affairs Commission and grew to about 10,000 in total fan base. With contests like Eriata Oribabhor Poetry Prize (EOPP http://wrr.ng/eriata-oribhabor-poetry-prize-eopp/), Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest (BPPC http://wrr.ng/brigitte-poirson-poetry-contest-bppc/), Albert Jungers Poetry Prize (AJPP http://wrr.ng/albert-jungers-poetry-prize-ajpp/) and the Green Author Prize (GAhttp://wrr.ng/green-author-prize-gap/P) running on our platform, WRR was unarguably blazing the trail. 

We also began the YouthNGAGE initiative (http://wrr.ng/wrr-ng-youthengage-engaging-the-endangered/), organizing workshops for young writers in different schools in 2015. That same year, we started the student support scheme, giving financial support to students at all levels of education.

It was in 2015 that we published out first author, Ebidenyefa Tarila Nikade. Since then we have published 12 books in total. Three more will be published in a few weeks. We have published poetry, fiction, essays, and children storybooks. We even have a white author, from the United Kingdom, on our client list.

We also held an enviable literary festival ‘FIST/FEAST of Words’ at the prestigious university of Ibadan. There, we gave out awards, including a brand new laptop to the winner of the AJPP and almost 300 books, including the beautiful BPPC anthology sponsored by Brigitte Poirson.

2016 has been very good too. We are building on the successes at a very rapid rate. The tentacles of WRR are reaching far and we promise to go even further. We are already planning for the 2016 festival and all our prizes are up and running. It will be a good year to the end, I know.

At WRR, everything we do is pace-setting, the way we execute our jobs, and the after-services we offer free of charge, is unmatched. Thought it may sound like blowing our own trumpets, the truth is that you cannot get a better deal than what we offer – innovation, quality, and affordability are what we sell.

I am sure that not many people know that WRR is not really a profit making venture (as yet). Since inception of out publishing and consulting services, ALL our profits have been ploughed into running our projects – the GREEN AUTHOR PRIZE and the ALBERT JUNGERS POETRY PRIZE. 

Perhaps this is a reason why you should do business with us and indirectly help fund our causes. In 2015, we spend roughly N1 million in total, promoting literature in Nigeria.

At this point, I will like to use this opportunity to say we are ready to partner with reputable persons on worthy projects. Also, we seek support for some of our projects. WRR is largely funded from my personal pocket and this is a heavy burden, though one I will gladly continue to bear. 

You can read about our CSR INITIATIVES here – http://wrr.ng/category/corporate-social-responsibility/ to see if there is any you can identify with. I need you to take the vision to the permanent site.

Meanwhile, clap for me, or I clap for myself.

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