Tuesday, January 20, 2015
You were my dance partner for years
But even when my nipples shook
Our cheeks touched
Our legs intertwined
For you; it was just about dancing
For years our fingers touched
Our knees kissed
Our backs mopped the floor
For years, I trembled on the dance floor
Your eyes looked into mine-you were frozen
My eyes looked into yours-I was melted
For years, our sweat made patterns on the floor
Our shadows flew across the stage
Audiences watched us
For me; it was about love
Couldn’t you notice?
When I nearly blinded you as I pulled my skirt higher and higher
When I lay over you with my mouth wide open
I was asking for more than the dance
I was asking for the dancer
By Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva
Previously published in Unjumping and Drumvoices Revue
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
<p> These photos were taken by various guests at the Ake Festival.</p>
<p>There were ghosts at The Continental Suites on Presidential Boulevard, Ibara, Abeokuta. Every night, I would hear knocking at my door and I’d call out, “Who is it?”</p>
<p>There would be no response.</p>
<p>The Ake Arts and Book Festival 2014 was tremendous. Lola Shoneyin, the Director and to the wonderful team, what can we do to help out next year?</p>
<p>All the nights were short except the first one, with a 3 hour bus ride from Lagos Airport to the June 12 Cultural Center. The Air conditioning and open door matatus alongside us, with conductors standing astride, did not make the time go any faster. They were just a reminder that Nigeria is not Uganda. Also, everyone drives a new car. What’s that about?</p>
<p>It was obvious from the dinner that first night that God created so many fine looking people and said, “They shall be called writers.” This festival was not for the faint at heart. No one’s steed could withstand that. No Sir. The heart flutters and betrayals notwithstanding, the festival was at the crest of literary power in many ways, possibly the synergy of publishers and their authors, feminists and past Presidents (Former President Obasanjo was there) and the poets on their dance floor. The connectivity was scattered and yet absorbed at the same time.</p>
<p>The film, October 1, directed by Kunle Afolayan and written by Tunde Babalola, was an incredible platform of traditional and cultural beliefs, the many faces of National and personal independence and more deeply, sexual abuse against children. The film had lots going on and some can arguably edit out a few scenes but it was overall an intelligent piece of work that has positively changed my opinion of the Nigerian film industry. It’s a film with universal appeal, which grossed 300,000 US Dollars in five weeks and Netflix also contacted them. It’s a good thing.</p>
<p>School tours: In groups of about five, we all headed to different schools for, well, a school tour. My fabulous team had Jekwu Ozoemene (how can you not love this banker with the abs), Adenike Campbell –Fatoki, author of historical fiction, Thread of Gold Beads and the always friend, Richard Ali, who has and continues to be a tremendous support to BN Poetry Foundation. We visited Gateway Secondary School, a public school about ten minutes from the June 12 Cultural Center. The literature class in particular-such confidence in knowing what they wanted to achieve in life, quite amazing. I knew what I wanted at 29 years, I think. Visiting schools is important so that the students get a peek into the various alternatives ahead of them, the creative abundance of choice.</p>
<p>Mutation and Mutilation: Feminism in Africa. A well-thought out panel with Bissi-Ayedele Femi, founder of African Women Development Fund, Iheoma Obibi of Intimate Pleasures, you all need to drop by, Zukiswa Wanner, Molara Wood, Nomboniso Gasa, Ayisha Osori, Edwige-Renee DRO and Ukamaka Olisakwe Evelyn. Bissi, an unapologetic feminist, explained that it’s about mutual respect. It’s not about destabilizing marriages and just because women are born women, they should not be demeaned.</p>
<p>Later in the day, I had the pleasure of launching A Thousand Voices Rising, an African contemporary poetry anthology, produced by the BN Poetry Foundation. Several of the contributors like Rotimi Babatunde, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Richard Ali and Clifton Gachagua read their poems. Fubaraibi Benstowe, shortlisted poet of the BN Poetry Award 2014, read from his piece, Orukoro Dancer.The launch closed with autographs and a recitation of Ssebo gwe wange. Different reactions each time.</p>
<p>It’s impossible to highlight all the awesomeness of Ake. Call Mr. Robeson, the one man act produced by Tayo Aluko was phenomenal and energetic while historically deep, performances by the remarkable Bassey-Ikpi with multiple meanings of identity and feminism, Kei Miller-Jamaican award-winning poet, Efe Paul with his political piece, Jumoke Verissimo, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, author of several poetry collections, Dr. Dami Ajayi-it got real in there, especially poetry dipped in palm-wine.</p>
And while we all strut about from one session to another, the most talented photographer and artist, <p>Victor Ehikhamenor, showed us his exhibition, The Lion’s Lair, photos of Prof. Wole Soyinka at his home. Honestly though, I would love to read Victor’s secret photo diary, the photos he keeps for himself. Vera Butterbusch, German photographer, likewise revealed interesting shots of various Nigerian social landscapes, like the Masquerades.</p>
<p>What’s a literary festival without a dance party and swimming? We laid it all out there. The music called and we responded. How else could we show our appreciation to the Ogas and first ladies that had put such a great event together? It was a bevy of rams on spit, tangled feet, hands where they shouldn’t have been and sweaty sweaty sweaty bodies. Prof. Rem Raj, President of Association of Nigerian Authors, celebrated his birthday just after midnight as well.</p>
<p>And the ghosts at Continental Suites didn’t follow Lizzy Attree the Caine Prize Director, or myself, to the swimming pool that last night either. Heck! Maybe they couldn’t swim.</p>
<p>by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva</p>
Monday, September 15, 2014
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
#BNPA2014 SHORTLISTED POEMS:#BABBLINGBABISHAI
Aleya Kassam starts off the discussion on Things That Were Lost In Our vaginas BY NYACHIRO LYDIA, TANZANIA
This poem was deeply affecting. It took me a while to figure out why this poem crawled into the pit of my belly and would not come out. The way she writes about something so horrendous as a child being abused, in an almost matter of fact way is where the power of the poem lies. The language echoes this sense of numbness she has had to develop to keep living through something so horrendous....the matter-of-factness that this is just what a girl, a girl! goes through, and that is just the way it is...it makes me feel, as a society we are complicit - and of course, aren't we? Yet the poem has a movement and texture that makes it beautiful, when it almost shouldn't be.
When I first read the poem, I thought it was so graphic. When I read it again and again I realized that much as it breaks communication barriers, it also highlights structural barriers of age and gender. Women's stories like this one are endless and the writer brings out the emotional trauma that even time cannot heal. Her reference to prayer brings a message of hope...
I want to say this is a beautiful poem but it is difficult ,because of the subject matter. However we have to be thankful that there are poets and writers who are prepared to write openly and honestly from their hearts about societies darker side.
Ivan Okuda ," It-is an epic poem, shortlisted for this years Babishai Niwe Poetry Awards, written by Tanzania's Nyachiro Kasese. If it doesn’t tickle your inner most senses, then nothing ever will.
Arafat Ndugga hehehe..respect..people can write.
Wilbrod Gos'pol Lydia I bow in contentment
Stylistic device...vivid description...lol
eh... that's a magnificent display of the language. The subject matter notwithstanding, I credit her for her skill in creating imagery. Its powerfully crafted. four star
Jamie Sanyu Mukama
this is so rich
Mukungu Blessed Dennis
well I’m looking for words to describe this literal artistry
I was sucked in by the title, the dare...yet the poem is so afraid...the fear within us..
Agatha Ayebazibwe Siima
wow!!! this one, I bow!
ReLoaded eeeh bulade
dats de language ov one hu z learned
Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire
This poem should win the PRIZE in my humble view/
Is Nyachiro on Facebook at all? I need to chat her up. This poem should win #BNPA2014.
thank you #NYACHIRO_LYDIA,
now this is poetry, i love the simple language she uses to talk about something this deep. and the title; shocker!!
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
I got a pile of about 500 submissions and cutting it down to 46 was merely time consuming, relatively easy. But I had headaches and hesitation every step of the way cutting those down to my best 15, and when 15 each came in as well from Kgafela and Joanne Arnott, it was almost as if some special gravitational field had stayed my scroll-read-appraise-delete functions. Choosing the very best 5 poems called up all the strength I had, for it takes strength to be brutal, to decide which is the fine poem of a lot of fine poems, which possesses the slimmest space between word and emotion, which should make it in because it better turns out the fresher metaphor, the more intriguing image, the pure emotion--to pick five of these from such a rich hoard . . . I wondered, at times, if God would forgive me!
Joanne Arnott:(Canada/Metis mixed)
_”Stepping into the river of poetry submissions was a cool immersion, some poems leapt out while others called from the waters. I learned about the contents of the poets’ minds and hearts, about their landscapes and weathers, about their rhythms and songs. In the end, I could carry away only those few.
Kgafela oa Magogodi (South Africa)
Chopping down was hard. But I had to stop the heart from bleeding for my darlings and chop.
Friday, July 11, 2014
With gratitude to all those that submitted for the 2014 BN Poetry Award, we've finally compiled our long-list. Here is the BNPA 2014 Longlist, compiled by Judges Joanne Arnott, award-winning Canadian/Metiz mixed poet, Richard Ali, Publicity Secretary (North) of Association of Nigerian authors and Kgafela oa Magogodi, South African Producer, Musician and Patron Spoken Word Africa. They received the poems blindly and this is the long-list. Congratulations to all who made it.
Here we go:
1. Blood and Water and Celebration (2 in 1) by Elizabeth Muchemwa Zimbabwe 2. After The Rain by Moses Muyanja Kyeyune from Uganda 3. The Crumpled Up paper and The Smooth Elegant One by Willie Ng'ang'a from Kenya. 4. Insane Living by Dorothie Ayebazibwe from Uganda 5. Reborn by Brenda Kanani from Kenya. 6. The Carpenter by Saba El Laziri from Sudan. 7. Sun Visit by Edzordzi Agbozo from Ghana. 8. Piano and drums by Kelvin Opeoluwa Kellman frm Nigeria. 9. Our Oiled Rusty Shores by Attah John Ojonugwa from Nigeria. 10. Beware by Richard Quaz Roodt from South Africa. 11. Time Zones by Kyle Allen of South Africa.
12. Dear Asabi by Mof'oluwawo Mojolaoluwa from Nigeria. 13. Dialogue Over The Twilight Zone ( Ebony & Ivory) by Moses Kyeyune Muyanja, Uganda. 14. The Things That were Lost In Our Vaginas by Nyachiro Lydia Kasese, Tanzania. 15. There Was Once Something Special Here by Tom Nyagari, Kenya. 16. I am Still Here by Chiugo Veronica Akaolisa, Nigeria. 17. L'aruge/Promotion by Saka Aliyu, Nigeria. 18. She Could Hear God by Jennie Marima, Kenya. 19. Smarty Phone by Nassolo Marjorie, Uganda. 20. Biriwa was My Home by Kojo Turkson, Ghana. 21. A Place Called Home by Dela Nyamuame, Ghana. 22. If I Was by Achieng Odhiambo, Kenya. 23. I am The Beginning by Oladele Noah, Nigeria. 24. Greater Enemy by Emiru David Patrick, Uganda. 25. The Conversation (2) by Tumelo Thekisho, South Africa. 26. Why Must African men Not Cry?27. Between God and Man 1 and 11 by Oladele Noah, Nigeria. 28. Half Filled Graves by Okwudili Nebeolisa 29. Orukoro Dancer by Benstowe Fubaraibi Anari, Nigeria. 30. Moonlight or No Light by Nana Nyarko Boateng, Ghana. 31. Under The Guava Tree by Annetjie van Wynegaard, South Africa.
32. Two Sides of A Window by Damilola Michael Aderibigbe, Nigeria. 33. It Happened to me too by James Yeku, Nigeria. 34. A Weekend in Lagos by Isoje Chou, Nigeria. 35. Paranoia bu Oluwaloni Olowookere, Nigeria. 36. Autshumato by Celeste Fritze, South Africa. 37. Children Also Grow by Rasaq Malik Gbolahan, Nigeria. 38. A Sudden Time by Solagbade Oyefara, Nigeria. 39. Different Forms of Slaughter by Asante Lucy Mtenje, Malawi. 40. The Night Sango Came to Ujagbe by Suleiman Agbonkhianmen Buhari, Nigeria. 41. What Poetry Means to Me by Rasaq Malik Gbolahan, Nigeria 42. Mama Talks by Valerie Awo-Dede Okaiteh, Ghana, 43.Indeed Beauty Full by Oludami Yomi-Alliyu, Nigeria. 44.Celestial Sprouts (Twin-Tomato-Tree) by Moses Muyanja Kyeyune, Uganda.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Thanks to Lillian Aujo for nominating me for the My Writing Process" international tour.
1. What are you working on?
I am working on a novel called Elgona. I love the name of the novel so much that I sometimes spend more time on that, than the actual novel. Elgona is the name of a feisty 9 year old living in England in a private school, with a family whose eccentricities and her own, cause ripples of misadventures, police interventions, near child-napping, sheroisms and clashes with identity crises.
Secondly, is PoeTRicks: an adventure toolkit for Children who read and write poetry. It is an unravelling of the maze of poetry’s many questions and an unveiling of poetry’s many faces. This handbook is a precious fit for children who struggle with what poetry is about.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Elgona does hold some non-fictional truths which no one can challenge and a lot of it is the bearing of my soul and unabashed self, which again, surprise me at many levels. The writing enables me to rediscover a life I lived and share it with others in a way that is entertaining, introspective and a little bizarre. Children have some of the most shocking encounters with reality and their interpretations, which are deeply honest and bold, enable readers and adults to not only be kinder towards them but also to appreciate honesty and integrity.
3. Why do you write what you do?
Because I’m moved by the need around me, the need in children and other older readers. I am moved to redefine my future and other futures of women and girls and because I believe that poetry is Literature’s most sacred form. Being in that presence, strengthens me to write more.
4. How does your writing process work?It usually doesn’t. Of late, I’ve taken to 2 hour morning walks, after which I am able to create anything, especially in my head. I write in my head as I walk and hopefully it ends up on my laptop screen. I am learning how messages from our minds filter into our real lives and so self empowerment through personal confidence-building and finding new creative spaces is my new writing process. It’s working because my words these days have found newer avenues to settle and feel at home.
The other writers I nominate are Sanyu Kisaka, who blogs at sanyukisaka.wordpress.com. Sanyu Kisaka is an undergraduate theater student and NYUAD. She is a singer, actress, and Lyricist. Sanyu is currently working on a short story and was winner of the 2011 Bn Poetry Award for her poem, A Handswing of Disguised Depravity.
The other writer is Esther-Karin Mngodo, Tanzanian poet. Esther Karin Mngodo has worked as a storyteller and a journalist for ten years focusing her work on children, youth and women. As a full time employee of The Citizen newspaper (2005-2009) and she worked directly with children through school visits and holding empowerment talks with schoolchildren, preparing content that would entertain, educate and shape the minds of young Tanzanians. She blogs at es-taa.tumblr.com.