Nneka Edwards

Artist bio

Nneka Edwards is a prolific and self-taught poet, author and artist who hails from the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Nneka is passionate about the arts, foreign-language learning and education. Nneka holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and a master’s degree in International Cooperation from Yonsei University (Seoul, South Korea).


The Last Rites of the Warrior

Artist Statement

The Last Rites of the Warrior is a poem about martyrdom that is part of my Japan-theme collection Porcelain Poetry (on Amazon). The poem was written during my one-year teaching stint in Japan (2006-2007) when I worked as an English teacher with the JET (Japan Exchange Teaching) Programme.

When I lived in Japan, I fell in love with the people and the culture. I was particularly intrigued by the Japanese tea ceremony, which is full of symbolism and rituals of honour. The centerpiece of this tradition is green tea which is made from green-tea powder or 'matcha.' I was told that the tea ceremony was very significant for samurai warriors, particularly on the eve of battle, since they did not know if they would ever return.

The Japanese tea ceremony is such a beautiful, serene, elegant affair that I knew that I just had to journal my fascination in the form of a poem. I scrapped my first attempt, but the Holy Spirit stepped in and helped me out and I found myself penning a poem about martyrdom. In my mind’s eye, I saw a samurai on the eve of battle taking part in a soul-stirring tea soirée. As he looks into his bowl of green sweetness, he sees floating images portending his fate on the morrow…

The artwork for the video features (digital) paper-collage pieces, since beautiful patterned paper is iconic of Japan. Some of the paper is from my stash of paper bought in Japan. Some of the paper is Western craft paper purchased in Trinidad. I decided to work with a pastel colour scheme of mainly green (for green tea), pink (for beauty – my favourite colour) and lilac (my second favourite colour) or purple (for death ... and royalty). I knew that most of my colours would be soft. Japanese people (I was told, while in The Land of the Rising Sun) do not like loud colours and I wanted this video to feel very Japanese. Some white is included as well, since Japanese people associate white with death. They also consider it a sacred colour of the gods and a symbol of purity.

You may notice that:
1. The warrior in the video is a samurai (artistic license taken)
2. Cranes (symbolic of long life) feature in the introduction
3. There is a whisk next to the tea bowl (for mixing)
4. An ikebana-style floral arrangement features near the end
5. The colour scheme (green, pink and lilac) is consistently used

Even though I grew up in Trinidad and love the Caribbean, the Far East is my second home. I’m really pleased that I could produce an Oriental-theme entry for this contest.

How it fits into contest

This poem and video highlight one aspect of spiritual warfare – martyrdom – within the context of war. The samurai is wearing armour that can be likened to much of the armour that is detailed in Ephesians 6:10-20. Even though I only represent the upper-body portion, the rest can be extrapolated.

This is a very subtle poem, but it is making the following points:
1. Life is as fragile as a ceramic bowl.
2. Life is fleeting. We maximize our time in this life by ‘dying’ daily.
3. In the Kingdom of God, there can be no life without death (a righteous oxymoron).
4. A seed only brings forth life after soil burial (John 12:24).
5. Every believer is a soldier (spiritually speaking) and a warrior fiercely loyal to Our Big Brother, Jesus.
6. Being willing to die in (and for) Christ is an act of spiritual warfare.
7. Death can look like defeat, but, in Christ, death is the pathway to winning wars, even if we (seemingly) lose battles.
8. Death could be literal or metaphorical (e.g. daily carrying our cross).
9. In war there are casualties … on both sides …
10. Behind the scenes of everyday visible life is a colossal invisible battle.
11. To die honourably is sacred (whether literally or metaphorically).
12. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psalm 116:15).
13. There is sometimes a bitter-sweet quality to the Christian journey (but more sweet than bitter).
14. Willing submission to God (even if it hurts) is an act of honour.
15. Just as the samurai lived and died by a code of honour, so must we – absolute allegiance to Jesus and absolute commitment to a life of consistent righteousness (by God’s grace, of course).
16. Giving our life to and for God is the ultimate act of honour.
17. Death is not the end of our story … resurrection life is.
18. Jesus promises us abundant life, even in the midst of death.
19. We do not fight forever. In the Great Beyond, we find on-and-on rest and peace.
20. Although we are in the middle of a war, we find beautiful inner peace (i.e. the peace that passes all understanding) by trusting God and willingly submitting to Him.


I am captain, cook, bottle washer and potato peeler.

Edited by Nneka Edwards
Written by Nneka Edwards
Narrated by Nneka Edwards
Recorded by Nneka Edwards
Illustrated by Nneka Edwards
Produced by Nneka Edwards

How to Purchase this Artwork

The video will be available on my YouTube channel - Nneka Edwards - but if anyone is interested in this for commercial purposes, I can be reached at to discuss.

Other Goods & Services Available from this Artist

I can offer online classes to anyone who may be interested...
1. Paper-Collage Tutorial for individuals, groups or corporate entities.
2. Other artistic expressions (same as above) - watercolour painting, drawing, digital art
3. Poetry Tutorials or Workshops - writing, analysis, performance

Transcript / Lyrics


The sun is setting behind the hills
The cranes are flying across the lake
This beauty may sleep forever

~ .~

A graceful hand gently tips the porcelain,
As a fountain of watery steam
Mists around the powder green;
The fragrant way of the ancient tea.

My host bows, serving a fragile bowl;
And there I behold a warrior’s tale.
Watery images faintly pale,
Mirror musings deep and grave.

I see:
Blossoms budding with the dawn,
Caught in the wind carrying them a long
Way off to a temple home,
Where the blowing gales come to rest.

I see:
The roar of battle as swords charge,
And the glorious thundering march
Of booming drums past the dead,
Who have met the Gate Keeper at last.

I see:
A brave sword far from its jeweled sheath,
The silver sheen sunk far beneath;
Yet the dazzling hilt stands like the gravestone
Of some great known who still lives on.

I see:
Perfume poured through a serene spout,
And a vessel with spring seeping out;
Blossoms blown wild and far away
Pink sprays branching along curving wood.

A graceful hand gently tips the porcelain,
As a fountain of watery steam
Mists around the powder green;
The fragrant way of the ancient tea.

This tea I hold like thoughtful treasure,
As I measure the span of my bowl.
Ceramic with a floral soul -
A gift none but the brave behold.

The pool shimmers in the lantern shade.
I slowly spin its grand design.
Full robed in armour bold and light,
I sip and bow, then brave the night.

Nneka Edwards

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