Monday, July 25, 2016

LILLIAN AUJO, BABISHAI FESTIVAL GUEST AND PRIZE WINNER OF FICTION AND POETRY

Lillian Akampurira Aujo is a Ugandan writer and a member of Femrite. In 2009, she won the inaugural BN Award with the poem 'Soft Tonight'. In 2015, she won the inaugural Jalada Prize for Literature with her short story "Where pumpkin leaves dwell.” During the 
 During the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival, she will Participate in a panel, "What are Ugandan women poets poeting about?"



Which one of your written poems do you constantly refer to and why?

1.      People ask me about ‘Soft tonight’, so I find that I keep referring to it a lot. 

 What is your relationship with poetry on the stage?
  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am comfortable on the page, and really uneasy on stage. So my relationship with poetry on stage is pretty novice.  I might change that soon, because for long I have toyed with the idea of being a performance poet.

 At the #Babishai2016 poetry festival, you'll participate in a panel entitled, What are Ugandan poets 'poeting' about? so, what are Ugandan women 'poeting' about?

3.    Politics! And I am glad that people like Anena have found un ignorable ways of putting it in Ugandan’s faces; a title like ‘I bow for my boobs’ is really hard to ignore.

 How would you define a successful poetry festival?

4.    A successful poetry festival has to have a buzz. (Yeah to Babishai on that!). Good performers to draw a crowd. And by crowd I categorically exclude poets, and include the other public. Good organisation of events, so that there aren’t too many similar things going on at the same time; that way guests don’t feel like they’ll have to miss out on something to attend another event. Then it has to have attendance from the public; otherwise who is it for?

 How has academiia influenced poetry, in your opinion?

5.   Has it? In my opinion there’s no clear cut distinction between academia and poetry. Even poets who don’t have degrees in literature and English or MFAs tend to invariably teach themselves the rules of poetry. So the two ‘worlds’ tend to co-exist in poetry..


6.  Parting remarks? 
F
6.   Memes like ‘poetry is for the elite’ need to die like yesterday! All our local languages are rich in poetry, the hawker on the street peddling his wares does so poetically, the touts calling to passengers do so poetically. So we need to stop lambasting ‘poetry’ with ‘elite’.

  Thank you.

   The Babishai Festival programme is here.
 http://babishainiwe.com/2016/07/21/babishai2016-poetry-festival-programme/








Thursday, July 21, 2016

THE #BABISHAI2016 POETRY FESTIVAL PROGRAMME IS HERE

Dear Friends,

The #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival programme is here. Follow the link below.

#Babishai2016 Poetry Festival Programme

Contact festival@babishainiwe.com
or  +256 751 703226 for any inquiry.







Wednesday, July 20, 2016

DAVIS TASHOBYA URGES ALL POETS TO JOIN KAMPALA TOASTMASTERS

Davis Tashobya is  the immediate past President of  Kampala Toastmasters Club and a  public speaking trainer in Kampala. He will also be participating in the Toastmasters Challenge at the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival on 25 August.


How long have you been a member of Kampala Toastmasters and what significant change has it made on your life?

I have been a Toastmaster since September 2010 when I moved to Nairobi.
When I moved back to Kampala permanently in 2014, together with a few other like-minded Toastmasters from clubs I knew in Kenya, we started Kampala Toastmasters.

Toastmasters  has taught me everything I know about communication and leadership and then some. I have been able to nurture and develop some very strong and meaningful networks and made lots of friends along the way.

When you think of Ugandan poetry,  what comes to mind?
Okot,P'Bitek. As a literature student, I drank from the fountain that is 'Songs of Lawino" It left an indelible mark on me and I must admit though I haven't been keen to read up more on the new stuff being churned out in Ugandan poetry, I enjoy poetry recitals and like the new crop of young poets like Jason Ntaro, Peter Kagayi, Aujo Lillian, to mention but a few.


The Babishai Poetry Festival is going to host the first Toastmasters challenge. A battle of words between poets and public speakers. As  a competitor,  how will you prepare for the challenge?

I will rehearse, rehearse and then rehearse. If I could, I would go on top of a mountain and prepare day and night while shouting into the wilderness because I know this won't be an easy challenge but I plan on giving those poets a run for their money.


 Do you feel that professionals in the work space need to interact more with poets?

Absolutely, if for nothing else at least some of the poet's creativity could rub off onto them. I think most professionals could benefit from a huge dose of creativity.

How important is an education that includes creative arts?

I think it is extremely vital. The study of  the creative arts inevitably gives birth to some of this world's most prized artefacts, books, paintings and even when applied in the sciences it can help put into perspective various phenomenon, 

Any parting remarks?
I think all poets should sign up to be Toastmasters. They fit the billing with astounding accuracy. 



 Thank you Davis.

The next Kampala Toastmasters Club meeting is on Tuesday 26 August at Protea Hotel from 6:00pm



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

DR. NSHEMEREIRWE, IN A WORD OFF WITH POETS AT THE BABISHAI FESTIVAL

Dr. Connie Nshemereirwe is a seasoned toastmaster, an educationist and scholar, challenging the status quo of the Ugandan education system. She will be participating in the Babishai Poetry festival Toastmasters challenge on 25 August at Maria's Place in Ntinda, in an intellectual battle of words.
CONNIE
Courtesy photo
How long have you been a member of Kampala Toastmasters and what significant change has it made on your life?
I have been a member of the Kampala Toastmasters Club since April 2015, and before that I was a member of the Twente Toastmasters In The Netherlands, which I joined in October 2012.
Toastmasters has made a great difference in my life. It has made me a much more confident speaker, more structured, and given me the tools to prepare for any public speaking engagement in a much more purposeful fashion.

  1. When you think of Ugandan poetry,  what comes to mind? 
You know, I don't know much about Ugandan Poetry! Someone recently reached a hand into my parents' bookshelf and produced a dusty book of poems written by Ugandans in the 1970s, and I hadn't known it was there until then (I'll provide a title when I remember). Beyond that, I can only think of the Babishai Poetry Foundation. A quick Google search also reminded me of Song of Lawino. And of late I have been exposed to some spoken word artists (who I think are fantastic!) But I don't really know much about poetry. Regrettably, I think.
The Babishai Poetry Festival is going to host the first Toastmasters challenge. A battle of words between poets and public speakers. As a competitor,  how will you prepare for the challenge? 
I will prepare as usual, only I will try to be even more creative than usual. I will use my body, my voice, my eyes, everything! I plan on speaking with more than just my words because I think those poets will be hard to beat! :-)
Do you feel that professionals in the work space need to interact more with poets? 
The little interaction that I have had with poets, especially the spoken word artists, and some of the poems I read in that dusty old book of poems, leads me to believe that we would all be better off with more poetry in our lives. Poetry helps one's brain and senses expand, poetry can carry some deep messages about society's evils but can also reveal the beauty in society. I really think that not being exposed to poetry is a big loss to anyone.
How important is an education that includes creative arts? 
I think it would be invaluable! Humans are such multifaceted beings, and education should seek to touch and polish each of those facets; further, I think we lose a lot of creative potential by not exposing all children to the creative arts, and that is a loss not only to them but to society
Any parting remarks? 
I'm really looking forward to the "word-off", if I'm honest! Somewhat apprehensive but up to the challenge! I think it s a great initiative,  good job! :-)

Thank you Connie
The Babishai Poetry Festival runs from 24-26 August at Maria's Place in Ntinda.
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Friday, July 15, 2016

#BABISHAI2016 POETRY LONGLIST

THE #BABISHAI2016 LONGLIST is testimony to the variety, inventiveness and boldness of African poets. The wide range of themes and subject matter, the exploration to new heights and the intricate and intimate spaces between the verses is all the more reason to continue celebrating our poets and their works.
Poetry Logo
Below is a link to the #Babishai2016 longlist. We congratulate each and every poet that submitted their work in a very competitive award.
http://babishainiwe.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Longlist-2016.pdf

The winners will be announced during the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival on Friday 26 August 2016.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

CHIBUHE-LIGHT OBI DEFINES HAIKU AS THE FREEZING OF MOMENTS

Chibuhe-Light Obi is a Nigerian with two Haikus on the #Babishai2016 Babishai Haiku shortlist. He defines haiku as the freezing of moments, while at the same time defining himself as a failed painter and amateur photographer.


Courtesy photo provided by Chibuhe-Light Obi




How do you define Haiku?
I cannot define haiku successfully without thinking of photography -the freezing of moments, movements and time; without thinking of precision. Haiku for me is a gasp that comes well after I've seen a mind blowing sight. Say a hill draped in mist. Or a gecko circling a moth. Or an ixora waltzing away in the wind. Much more, how the soul reacts to these spiritual experiences. Haiku is how the mind absorbs the after taste of a sublime sight or situation. It is pause and ponder. It is yoga. Introspection. Meditation. Stand still and see. Folding silence into a song so small you could scrawl it on your palms and tuck it away in your pockets for future use. Haiku is the only way silence or a sigh could be written without ruffling or bruising it.

 What is the process of haiku writing like for you?
I am a failed painter and an amateur photographer. In between, I'm a carrier of a very porous imagination. Images stay in my mind, grow, change, metamorphose, until they threaten to spill over in some not/so/funny ways. So haiku is my own way of unwinding, of releasing these images. A means of securing space for them, giving them a chance to thrive. To be. To exist. Often times, my haiku come upon me suddenly, then I scrawl them on anything and forget or gather them up later. In editing, I pay intimate attention to depth, juxtaposition, sound or echo and how the images align with my soul. The last process, well, is shutting my eyes and rereading them over and over again. If I don't hear and see it -both equally- it ain't haiku yet.


Were you surprised at being shortlisted?
Actually, it still feels surreal. I just found Haiku less than six months ago, and some friends so far have told me that I don't know how to do it. This is the first competition I have entered by myself; other ones were done on my behalf. It's surprising, and that makes it electrifying.


Do you spend a lot of time reading Haikus, and from where?
Since February, which was when I discovered haiku, I try my best to visit a hiaku website at least every morning. I bookmark the websites and downloaded as much as I can. It has so far become a devotion. A way to wake, to unwind, to relax. My own zen. Places I go include: The Heron's nest. Haiku for People, Frog's Pond, Adjei Agyei-Baah's Facebook page. The internet is so free and borderless; break it if you can.



Which African Haiku writers do you know and admire?
God! This may be shameful. But it's only Adjei Agyei-Baah and I met him on The Heron's Nest. Nevertheless, Babishaiku has introduced me to Kwaku Feni Adow, Blessmond and Ayesha. Now, the horizon has expanded.

Have you heard of the mamba Journal, a publication of Haikus, produced by the African Haiku Network, co-founded by one of our judges, Adjei Agyei-Baah?


Yes. I heard of the mamba journal on Facebook, Adjei's wall to be precise. I even shared it in class with my students who before then did not know the word "Haiku", let alone reading one.

How do you feel we should promote African haikus?
The Babishaiku prize is a good way to begin. The African Haiku Network is another splendid way of promoting haiku in Africa. Poets too should explore this genre of poetry, share their works online, collect them into anthologies and make all the necessary noise.



 Any parting remarks?
Thank you Babishaiku for initiating this idea, for dragging me out of my cocoon. It is a juicy bait to lure poets in Africa towards the haiku art form. I am sure this will go a long way in pushing African Haiku to the fore. Hello to Kwaku, Blessmond and Ayesha. It's nice having you here.


Thank you Chibuihe.

The #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival runs from 24-26 August in Kampala at Maria's Place, opposite Froebel near Shell Petrol Station.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

KWAKU FENI ADOW SPENDS A LOT OF TIME WRITING HAIKU-#BABISHAI2016

  Kwaku Feni Adow, from Ghana, has two Haikus in the 2016 Babishai Haiku shortlist. He spends lots of time writing Haikus and his knowledge of the craft is admirable.

Courtesy photo


How do you define Haiku?
Haiku is that poetry which seeks to evoke nature in three (not always) brief/succinct lines, painting a picture with words where the poet is bound by the spirit of the art to show not tell. The poet is not as much allowed to intrude with his emotion or opinion. The best haiku have depth, many meanings that can be read into it when images are well juxtaposed.


What is the process of haiku writing like for you?
Writing haiku for me starts with an inspiration, a little moment of insight in finding something new in the ordinary. This mostly comes about from observation, childhood memories and from reading haiku, albeit the inspiration is only the beginning point. After writing down the words that present themselves in the moment, I let the poem lie and come back to it later, this time weighing and assessing how each word employed helps make the haiku better.


 Were you surprised at being shortlisted?
I must say that I was surprised especially that two of my poems got shortlisted.


Do you spend a lot of time reading Haiku, and from where?
I do spend a lot of time reading haiku. Besides the pleasure in reading haiku, part of the process of writing or learning the art is reading lots of it. My sources are online journals dedicated to publishing top-notch haiku, few examples would be Cattails, Heron's Nest, Frogpond and Africa Haiku Network.

 Which African Haiku writers do you know and admire?
Thankfully, there are quite a number of African haiku poets I know. The likes of Celestine Nudanu and Barnabas Ìkéolúwa Adélékè. It'll almost seem like a sin to not mention Adjei Agyei-Baah who to me is a haiku genius not just in Africa but in the world, evidenced of course by his numerous awards and publications in reputable journals. Again I know and admire the work of his fellow from Nigeria Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian. These two have had influence on me as far as my haiku journey is concerned.

Have you heard of the Mamba Journal, a publication of Haikus,
produced by the African Haiku Network, co-founded by one of our judges, Adjei Agyei-Baah?

I have indeed heard of the Mamba and I am happy to have five haiku of mine published in its premier issue.

How do you feel we should promote African haiku?
I believe haiku can be promoted through contests like this. Also, I believe a constant hosting and/or promoting the efforts and work of groups like Africa Haiku Network and any other Haiku Society anywhere in Africa  on this platform can expose the art to the numerous visitors. 

Any parting remarks?
I would like to say thank you to Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation for taking this step to have the very first haiku contest in Africa for African haiku poets. This is the support the art truly needs and we are all appreciative of that. To the  other shortlisted poets, congrats.
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Thank you Kwaku.

The #Babishai2016 Poetry festival runs from 24 -26 August in Kampala at Maria's Place in Ntinda.