Recently, Gaamangwe Joy Mogami at Africa in Dialogue has been in conversation with shortlisted poets for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize. Among these poets are three amazing writers which we have the privilege of having at Africa Writes 2017. So you know a bit more about the writers before you come we are going to give you the breakdown of some of their works as well as the message they conveyed in the interviews . Between them they deeply explored the identity and the power poetry has to illuminates different narratives and voices.
Kayo Chingonyi is a Fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British poetry. He is the author of two pamphlets, Some Bright Elegance (Salt, 2012) and The Colour of James Brown’s Scream (APBF/Akashic, 2016). Kayo has been invited to read from his work around the world and his poems have been translated into Spanish, German and Swedish. He was awarded the 2012 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and served as Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts from Autumn 2015 to Spring 2016. His first full-length collection, Kumukanda, is forthcoming from Chatto & Windus.
In the interview Chingonyi talks passionately about the influence of a hybrid identity and the process of articulating this sensibility in his poetry, “as an immigrant, the spaces that I exist in are kind of hybrid, as a result. The poems are a space for those things to come together”. As the interview progresses it is clear that instead of viewing identity as a fixed entity he sees it rather as something fluid and changing which we use every day to navigate life and different situations, “I think all identity is improvisation; nobody is just one thing in any point in their life”. His poetry is a reflection of how he perceives himself which is multifaceted due to many influences from different experiences, locations and people, “The truest expression of myself is layered”.
Kayo Chingonyi will be featuring on our programme twice as he’ll be part of the group of poets performing at Africa Writes: R.A.P Party on Friday 30 June and launching his collection of poems, Kumukanda, on Saturday 1 July.
Poet Nick Makoha is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow and a Fellow of The Complete Works in the UK. He won the 2015 Brunel African Poetry Prize and the Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize 2016 for his manuscript Resurrection Man. His poems have appeared in The Poetry Review, Rialto, The Triquarterly Review, Boston Review, Callaloo,and Wasafiri. Find him at www.nickmakoha.com
Nick Makoha’s interview discussed the very significant topic of the dangers of a single narrative in African discourse. He believes his writing gives a necessary voice to challenge singular perceptions of Uganda’s history, “poems about my life and Uganda started to drip through and I had to pay attention to that.” Although his poetry is a form of expression for himself, he hopes it can carry a higher purpose in society, “I hope this collection also encourages other artists to look at their countries in Africa and to write stories about them because that is important. Otherwise our stories will always be told by other people.”
Nick Makoha will be with us on Saturday 1 July as he launches his collection of poems, Kingdom of Gravity.
Richard Oduor Oduku
Richard Oduor Oduku is a post-cynical humanist, a researcher, and a poet and writer. He studied Biomedical Science and Technology and works as a research consultant in Nairobi, Kenya. He has been published in Jalada Africa, Saraba Magazine, Kwani? Storymoja, This is Africa among others. His story eNGAGEMENT published in the JaladaAfrofutures anthology was longlisted for the BSFA Awards 2015. He is also a Nonfiction Editor at Panorama – The Journal for Intelligent Travel. He is a founding member of Jalada Africa and is also a Co-Curator and Festival Coordinator for the Jalada Mobile Literary and Art Festival running in five countries in East Africa.
The interview with Richard Oduor Oduku became an in-depth conversation on navigating multiple narratives and existences through the power of reinvention. His ability to reach many people has come from listening to different speakers and voices, “I speak with many voices. I’m fluid enough to flow into any conversation, and drown into so many floods”. Because of this the writer becomes sensitive and aware of what goes on around him so he can access a particular story, “There are many voices. My work is just to be self-aware, to be unclogged enough to allow the rivers of humanity to pass through my processing system”. As well as writers and historians, he also addresses us as readers and the importance of articulating our own experiences as well as listening to others, “We need to be more involved in translating the world through our own unique experiences.”
Richard Oduor Oduku will be joining us at Africa Writes 2017 for the Jalada Africa Mobile Literary and Arts Festival showcase event on Saturday 1 July
Read the full interviews on Africa in Dialogue with Gaamangwe Joy Mogami.