Monday, July 30, 2012

Betty Kituyi gives birth to yet another poem

I want you to know how happy I am with my little poem, Falling, having taken the third position in this years’ Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award! The prizes were great thanks to our sponsors!
Birds at Queen Elizabeth National Park, photo by BNN, 2009 The evening of 29th June 2012 when I read my poem to the guests at the poetry evening, I felt like giving birth to it. The message in the poem coincided with the pain of loss of my village mates in Bududa village who had been buried by landslides. At that moment, my poem carried hope for me and for my people and that meant so much to me. My people needed to hear those words ‘ I am learning from the weeping clouds that falling isn’t dying.’ Maybe there is meaning to this death in my village. May be death is not an end. I keep thinking. Since the award, my poem has been shown off to friends, family and organisations and it feels like sharing a new precious baby to the world: My friend Theresa Wolfwood from Canada says it is a powerful poem with no word out of place. Sumeet Glover a UK based poet and a friend to Terry, wrote a lovely commentary about the poem and wants to feature it on his website: www. global These are his words: “ yes, I do remember this poem, and it was very much on my mind to reply to that email of yours from few weeks back. I was yet to spend time reflecting on this poem, but on the top of my head, I believe it's a beautiful poem. It is a celebration of feminism and it talks of the freedom every woman deserves, especially in Eastern and African societies where gender roles are strictly restricted. After reading this poem a few times, I thought "only if every woman had this sense of inner and outer freedom to just be whoever she wants to be". So yes, it contains a very powerful message for male-dominated and bigoted societies. On the other hand, it contains a very feminine and engaging sense of hope for other women to let themselves out, to breathe free, to let the rain fall, to get drenched in its waters and to walk home. The essence of this poem is a fearless 'awakening' to a woman's freedom. If there was a choice, this poem could also be renamed "fearless". Only if every woman had this freedom! That is my final thought, especially after I recently heard of my cousin sister in Delhi. Her husband has now turned slightly "kind" to give her "permission" to see her mom once in 4 months. Anyway, she has a choice she doesn't want to take. So "Falling" has an important place to let the fears and terror of women to fall away. I went to the Southbank Centre on Friday last week, and attended "African Utopia" debate. There was a panel of journalists of African descent debating how the West is so ignorant about Africa and how only about 20 or 30% of African population has access to Internet. Therefore, I wanted to ask you, if Betty may be interested in having this poem published on Global Poetry site? (the copyrights remain with the authors, GP doesn't hold any copyrights to others' works) I believe this will be a very important voice for African women, and women in general.’ FEMRITE used falling as a table tent that was marketed in restaurants, hotels, bars schools to promote the literally week of activities from 9th – 13th July 2012. Beatrice Lamwaka and Barbra Oketta used it with students of Jane Francis Secondary school in Masaka during their school visit where it was discussed and recited on 28th July 2012. My friend Cathy, a professor of literature at a university in Kuwait has promised to share the poem with her students! For a small poem that began at a kitchen sink to travel these vast distances and find use and meaning to different people in a small period of time, is quite a profound experience for me! It is like a mother watching her child grow and accomplish his dreams. I am extremely delighted and encouraged by the BN Award. Thank you so much for giving a forum for the inner voices of Ugandan women to be heard! Congratulations Beverley for this great effort!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

East African Poetry Anthology

Hello, The BN Poetry Foundation is compiling poems from poets of East Africa for an anthology which will come out in 2013. This has been due to the generous contribution of Prince Claus Foundation. We kindly request you to send up to a maximum of three original poems in English or in a local language with the English translation, from which one or two will be selected. The winners of the BN Poetry Award from 2009 to 2012, will have their winning poems published and they may submit another for consideration if they so please.
Bulago Island, Uganda The theme is open and submissions will be accepted from 1st August 2012 to 1st November 2012. The copyright of these poems will belong to the poets. At the moment, there are consultations with various publishing houses and once a selection has been made, you will be notified. Payment will be made once a publishing house has been identified. Kindly submit poems to, as Microsoft word attachments in Times New Roman size 12, include your name, email and phone contacts and nationality. We will not be able to acknowledge receipt of submission and only those whose poems have been selected will be notified due to the large number of submissions. This does not mean that we do not appreciate you for taking part in this process. Poets must be from either Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda Tanzania, South Sudan or Uganda. For details on what the BN Poetry Foundation does, visit Kind Regards,\ Beverley Nambozo, for BN Poetry Foundation

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

wallace's right arm

On 23rd August 1305, William Wallace was executed. At that time, the punishment for the crime of treason was that the convicted traitor was dragged to the place of execution, hanged by the neck (but not until he was dead), and disembowelled (or drawn) while still alive. His entrails were burned before his eyes, he was decapitated and his body was divided into four parts (or quartered). Accordingly, this was Wallace's fate. His head was impaled on a spike and displayed at London Bridge, his right arm on the bridge at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, his left arm at Berwick, his right leg at Perth, and the left leg at Aberdeen. Edward may have believed that with Wallace's capture and execution, he had at last broken the spirit of the Scots. He was wrong. By executing Wallace so barbarically, Edward had martyred a popular Scots military leader and fired the Scottish people's determination to be free.


Wave goodbye ye oafs of culture,
let your rootless dreams drift away.
History has come to drown you in blood
and wash up your empty schemes.

Yon tottering Palaces of Culture
are seized by the rampaging sea.
They are sailing back to the Equator
to burn in a jungle of fear.

Three hundred million years me lads,
unseen from these high-rise days:
an ice-sheet  thick as an ocean,
all those hours just melted down.

Into rich seams of coal,
tropical plants were fossilised;
the sandbanks grew into sandstone
and the mudflats into shale.

And the right arm of William Wallace
shakes with wrath in this firework night.
It is waving goodbye to your history,
it is saying hello to Baghdad.

All the brains of your Labour Party
are stashed in a carrier bag.
Down Bottle Bank in the darkness,
you can hear Wallace scream in a dog.

And will you hang, draw, and quarter my home street?
Will you drop bombs on the music hall?
You have taken the bones from our loves
and taken the piss from the Tyne.

So give me your arm Good Sir Braveheart,
I’ll take it a walk through the park
and I’ll use it to strike down a student
with an empty shell of a soul.

And I’d give my right arm to make ships,
my left to stoke dreams alive.
And I will dance on in the brilliance of life
until oppression is blown away.


Sunday, July 22, 2012


sing of my home city
sing of a true geordie heart
sing of a river swell in me
sing of a sea of the canny
sing of the newcastle day

sing of a history of poetry
sing of the pudding chare rain 
sing of the puddles and clarts
sing of the bodies of sailors
sing of the golden sea

sing of our childrens’ laughter
sing of the boats in our eyes
sing of the bridges in sunshine
sing of the fish in the tyne
sing of the lost yards and the pits 

sing of the high level railway
sing of the love in my face
sing of the garths and the castle
sing of the screaming lasses
sing of the sad on the side

sing of the battles’ remains
sing of the walls round our dreams
sing of the scribblers and dribblers
sing of the scratchers of livings
sing of the quayside night

sing of the kicks and the kisses
sing of the strays and the chancers
sing of the swiggers of ale
sing of the hammer of memory
sing of the welders’ revenge

sing of a battered townscape
sing of a song underground
sing of a powerless wasteland
sing of a buried bard
sing of the bones of tom spence

sing of the cocky bastards
sing of a black and white tide
sing of the ferry boat leaving
sing of cathedral bells crying
sing of the tyneside skies

sing of my mother and father
sing of my sister’s kindness
sing of the hope in my stride
sing of a people’s passion
sing of the strength of the wind 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012


On 10 July 2012, Susan Piwang and I were invited to UBC-TV to talk about the prize, the future of the award and, you know, let people submit their own poems next year. Susan's poem, The Music Man, won the 2012 award and amongst the fabulous prizes, she will also be travelling to the Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi in September with the other two winners. She said that she would definitely encourage other poets to submit their poems because well, who knows what direction art will take.

Saturday, July 14, 2012



Slime nosed and grubby
Spill across the dust of
Into crumbling backyards
Where stems of sunlight
Turn fragments of masonry
Into tigers' eyes and
And, above the strident excitement
Of the 'treasure hunters',
The carillon of the Civic Centre
Drifts folk tunes across
The wasteland
To a knot of men
Squatting outside the Shieldfield Arms
Burying the slow trade of time
In Sunday newspapers.
Sensitivity reduced
By a resilience
Born out of resignation,
A man coaxes mucus
From his throat,
Directs it at the
Hard element of rubble -
An exclamation mark of
That betrays no loss of

Goff Esther


At Earsdon sheep can pick their way
Over the wet green needles of their dumpling hill
With dainty grace, deft as Arab eyes at market.
Each tuft's a small bazaar, but their hunting is joyless.
Black nostrils pucker up in winter's greed,
Mean lips rip up quick bargains and snap shut.
They spill across the Earsdon hill, these sheep
Like a caravan gone wrong.
Under the filigree glories of Northumberland's lid,
I half expect, half hope to see
A pink pendentive mosque, with a minaret pointing
Like an emperor's fist held up in clemency.
And, while this blowzy northern sun slumps in debauch,
I hear a muezzin baying for obeisance
Over the bowed heads of these Earsdon sheep.
Useless to say you know
A square black Saxon church squats on this hill
Agelessly strong, agelessly chill, visions destroying.
Thick slabs of slate and tubloads of lead nails
Fasten it to the hill like a doom.
Yet, at its heart is the shape of a lamb
And some of the old caravanners' names
Are kept in a book there.

Not long from now, scrubbed children will choir there
Telling of unwashed shepherds, carolling of sheep,
Shaking dull copper bells, whistling up Magi
Below a mellow light that's sucked from under Arab feet.
They will stand in stilled huddles before
Sackfuls of dusty straw
Strewn with careful abandon to simulate pastoral life.
They will lay their piping icons at the foot
Of a flimy structure purposely wrought rough
To house the wraith of poverty seasonally dragged out
Which is for us humility, for Arabs wealth.

Norman Green

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

from a swahili phrasebook


Susan Piwang (above), the winner receiving her prize.
Paula Biraaro, second winner receiving her prize.
Betty Kituyi, third winner, receiving her prize.
Rehema Nanfuka, fourth winner receiving her prize.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The New Zealand Connection - 2 Poems by Jenny Argante

Jenny Argante’s latest collection is Working in the Cracks Between (Oceanbooks, 2012.) She is a published writer and professional editor who created and taught on the Waiariki Institute of Technology’s online Diploma in Creative Writing for seven years. She is now engaged with preparing Poetivity: How to Read and Write Poetry for publication later this year. 


To measure the sun's height
you don't need to be
a bird, a probe, or
winged Icarus failing to scope
red-hot perplexity,
fallen to zero

Do as the wise men do
who nightly study stars,
the moon's cold certainties
emerging, pale, red-eyed,
to calculate sun's distance
where it strides:

meaning determined
with both feet on the ground.


the cut face of the quarry
the sharp upswell of hill
the Norfolk pines that stamp the pass
across the bordering rill

the palimpsest of unleaved trees
as ghostly as a dream
beside the road the railway track
beside the track a stream

beside the stream a barricade
of boulders, rock and scree
beyond unseen, beneath unknown
experienced in me

beside the rock, the ripening range
that draws the upward eye
high snow, low cloud and a pale moon
against a leaden sky

Monday, July 2, 2012


Joe Wilson was probably the most prolific of all the Geordie songwriters of his time. Many of his works were published in his book of Songs and Drolleries.

Keep Your Feet Still Geordie Hinnie

Oh, keep your feet still Geordie, hinnie 
Let's be happy through the neet
For we may not be so happy through the day. 
Just give iz that bit comfort 
Keep your feet still Geordie lad 
And divvent drive me bonnie dreams away.   

Why, wor Geordie and Bob Johnson, man
They both lay in one bed 
In a little boardin' hoose doon by the shore. 
Afore he'd been an hour asleep 
A kick from Geordie's fyuet 
Made Bob waken up to roar instead of snore. 

Keep your feet...  

Noo, I dreamt there was a dancing held 
And Mary Broon was there 
And I dreamt we tripped it lightly roond the floor 
I held hor heaving breast to me 
Whilst waltzing roond the room 
And that's mair than I dared ever dee before. 

So keep your feet...  

Noo, you knaa the lad she goes with? 
Why, they call him Jimmy Green' 
And I dreamt he tried to spoil us in wor fun 
I dreamt I nailed him heavy 

Man, I blacked the big fyul's eyes 
And if I'd slept I divvent knaa what I'd ha' dyun. 

So keep your feet...  

Noo, I dreamt Jim Green had left the toon 
He'd left his lass to me 
And the hoose why it was fornished with the best 
And I was waalkin doon the aisle
With Mary by me side 
When your clumsy feet completely spoiled the rest.

So keep your feet...