Monday, August 3, 2020

ADIPO SIDANG FROM KENYA; POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AUTHOR, AND MORE

ADIPO SIDANG FROM KENYA; AUTHOR, POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND MORE

 

First, really excited about making it to the long-list. I’m an award-winning author, poet, playwright, culture exponent and governance consultant. I’ve got two books to my name – a collection of poems titled Parliament of Owls published by Native Intelligence under the Contact Zone Series with Goethe Institut (2016), and the 2017 Burt Award winning novella “A Boy Named Koko” published by Longhorn Publishers (2017).

 

I write for fun, for money, but I also write to cause fury and make us angry with ourselves and the world around us, so that we can change it. Writing is my form of advocacy. I tend to see myself as a gadfly that goads the steed of society out of slumber (to quote Socrates). I think that’s what every artist should consider themselves to be, or should at least strive to become.

 

Why were you inclined to submit for the #Babishai2020 haiku award?

 

I love haikus – the form, the invisible force that lingers on despite the brevity of haikus. It’s a way of saying poetry can be short and sweet without necessarily being caged in rhyme.

 

What was your process in writing this particular haiku below?

ringed with its papers
and tracked like jailbird on bail
the immigrant lands...


I don’t really think about this poetry like that; but I can say my process was chaos, anarchy, mental stampede, ideas colliding, moments of silence, questioning, doubts, literary pangs of pain, and the birth of a 5-7-5 haiku; all in under 3 minutes. I remember writing the third line first and the poem fell in place, in reverse. The poem was triggered by the arrival of a migratory Osprey bird in Kenya that flew over 6,000 kilometers from Finland. The interesting thing is that it had a reference ring on its leg; and it got me thinking about the fate of migratory birds, and that of immigrants, what freedom to them looks beyond the borders that chain them, and the illusion of freedom. The bird died a few days later.

 

In your opinion, what is the future of African haiku?

 

Well, hard to tell but it definitely looks promising; poetry in general is increasingly becoming more appreciated in Africa and the world. For a long time, poetry has been confined to the lowest rung of the literary ladder. It’s changing – shrubs are becoming trees, and trees – a forest; and haikus are somewhere in this fecund literary forest.

 

How are we able to share about this haiku experience, with Kenya, and the world?

 

The BN experience? It’s been great. Well, I’ve never been long-listed for writing a three line 17 syllable poem; if it happens – like in this case, it means there is some truth that won’t go away, that makes a reader question or wonder. Besides that, being long listed alongside other poets means there is something that is both common to us and to the literary community. I cherish this experience because you hardly come by it; I mean poetry awards in this part of the world are few, not to mention poetry awards for haikus.

 

 

….


Sunday, August 2, 2020

ANDREW OMUNA FROM UGANDA; TAKING NO PRISONERS

I am Andrew Herbert Omuna, a teacher by profession. My passion about arts has been evolving with changing times or state of mind at the time. I love film, writing, art and travelling. One of my poems; Ode to the yellow party, was published in the Best New African Poets 2016 anthology. I write most of the time when I feel there is some idea that sparks my desire to put something down on paper. And although these don’t come that often, when one comes, even the other ideas that have been kept in the back do come up during this creative moment. I also write as a way of speaking my mind on paper, given that most of the time is spent on observing what is around me. These moments help me create some path for hopefully publishing a collection one day.

My inclination to submit to the #Babishai2020 haiku award wasn’t abrupt. I had one time applied with a full poem, although it didn’t make it anywhere that time. When this opportunity availed itself again, I thought it better to try out with the haiku. I had never written any haiku before, but with the basics of a 5-7-5 format, I decided to take on the challenge. And because I first saw the call for submission on the night of 31st Dec 2019 – 1st Jan 2020, I knew I had to try something new and make this a year for writing more often, and if possible, compete.

After seeing the call for submission for the haiku, it was then about doing some research into what made a piece be called a haiku. Although there are regular and irregular forms of haikus, I stuck to the regular form of 5-7-5. On the days I saw the call (night of New Year 2019-2020) and when I wrote the haikus (night of 1st March 2020), it was about what I loved most and what I was going through at the moment. I was doing the night shift on those days and yet I also loved my sleep. This was the first haiku I actually wrote that night. It had to be something about sleep and the many pieces of advice I had heard about too much sleep. With the idea sorted, the rest was about making choice of words fit within the 5-7-5 format.

the morning rain falls

endlessly hugging thy sleep

frozen ideas die

by Andrew Omuna

The African haiku, as is with many other forms and genres of writing, might get swallowed up by the generalization of academic theories often formed for other kinds of “reading.” If the future for the African haiku is to blossom, I would like to see content revolving around our community. Relatability is very important. Although the origin might not be African, the uniqueness of our experiences, adaptability to the form, having more calls for haikus, could help create a role within the vast free form of poetry generally known by the greater African population.

I would think of creating an awareness drive with other poets, performers and writers, to challenge themselves by creating haikus as part of their works. Since majority of creative writers are more familiar with free verse poetry, getting into this space will create an extra experience of brief poetic forms. Publication of these haikus, whether in paper print or online would help push this experience to a global milestone. Lastly, since the haikus are brief, the chances of them accompanying other forms of media is great. Art pieces, outdoor displays, creative art classes can all lend a hand in pushing this experience to more people in Uganda and around the world.

.....

Saturday, August 1, 2020

AHMAD HOLDERNESS FROM NIGERIA; POET, FATHER, AND DOCTOR

ADMAD HOLDERNESS; NIGERIAN POET

I am a medical doctor, a husband and a father amongst other things. I write long-form and short-form poems (haiku) and some of my haiku can be found in journals such as on Frogpond, Chrysanthemum, The Mamba, Creatrix, Acorn, and Haiku Presence. Also, I was shortlisted for this award in 2017 Haiku Awards and have some works in Africa Meets Vienna Afriku Anthologies. I nurture a dream to prescribe my poems as pills and this influences my writing. Beyond this influence, I write mainly because writing is a gateway to all the identities I have become. I am a man and in addition to how I have described myself earlier, I am a Muslim, an African, and many other subtle identities that must find balance within the package I consider as myself. As you can perceive, I am trying to simplify myself, thus it can be said that I am a complex man who writes to simplify himself.

Why were you inclined to submit for the #Babishai2020 haiku award?

I was inclined to submit for this award because I was certain that it would be competitive. For the past few years, Babishai has been a platform that has greatly contributed to showcasing the talents of African poets, especially in the Haiku genre and I am proud to be associated with this progress.

What was your process in writing this particular haiku below?

bitter kola
grandpa breaks into
a new tale

As simple as this haiku looks, it packs a punch. I started writing it in my mind, drawing from the sights of what I see the African society becoming. The elders in African culture are considered wise men and the tales they tell are known to guide/admonish the youngsters about the moral codes as well as the needs of the African society. The process of writing this haiku evolved just as the reality of the evolving cultures around me. So, what came to me first was a common retort I use when I am slightly surprised and unprepared for something and I simply utter; snap. Next, I asked myself what snaps? The first picture that came to my head was the error message you get when you can’t access a webpage. I played around this idea and this launched my mind to search for deeper meanings from exploring my thoughts and my experience and I think I came up with my first draft when I had a cough/cold and recalled how orogbo (bitter-kola) was considered a good remedy for it and how it snaps into two when you break it. This moment was the key element in writing this haiku as it juxtaposed all my memories/experience relating to the key elements of the haiku, so I took out my phone and typed my thoughts in the Notes app.

Once the draft was written, I revisited it every night; I do this usually with all the other poems in my notes app and review and amend them accordingly. Once I made a mental note that the poem has reached the state of perfection of what I needed it to express, about metamorphosis, I just knew I would be submitting the poem for the Babishaiku Haiku awards. I finished writing the poem perhaps six months before the call for submission for the Babashaiku awards. To describe the process in one word, I would say it was empirical.

 

In your opinion, what is the future of African haiku?

Permit me to unsheathe a philosophical response to this question;

When is a door not a door?

The answer to this riddle and the riddle itself is how I see the future of African Haiku. While some may consider growth as linear, I tend to see it as cyclical. What is clear is that what many perceive to be walls or barriers to their growth are actually doors. Once an African poet realizes this, the door is no longer a door and the influx of talents into what is behind the door (the future) is an exciting adventure that promises if not guarantees excellence. In other words, the future of African Haiku depends on those who realize the potential use of Haiku, the brevity it offers, the emotion it packs and moment in time it captures as a form of portal into a multiverse that documents and celebrates the African tradition and its people in a form that is elegant and reminiscent of the hopes of our forefathers.

  How are we able to share about this haiku experience, with Nigeria, and the world?  

The easiest way to share this experience is to gift it. The foundation has done well by positioning itself as a platform that identifies talents and sharing this haiku experience can be done through haiku workshops and also by supporting/creating journals where Nigerians and the world at large can explore this unique art. There still a long way to go but it is very exciting and creating a viable network of artisans and administrators for this purpose will surely reap immense benefits. We need to design and enrich a museum where these works can be appreciated.

 

Friday, July 31, 2020

AKELLO CHARLOTTE FROM UGANDA; WRITING IS LIKE BREATHING EXERCISES

KELLO CHARLOTTE FROM UGANDA; WRITING IS LIKE A BREATHING EXERCISE

I’m Akello Charlotte. A student at Makerere University, a Ugandan writer and poet. I first got ‘serious’ with writing poetry while at Nabisunsa girls and since then I’ve never looked back. Otherwise, I’ve been a writer since childhood.


I write to take the weight off my chest, to me, writing is like breathing exercises. It takes writing to calm me when I’m in distress. Above all, writing comes to me so naturally that I feel clogged when I don’t write for a few weeks. I also think poetry is beautiful.

I submitted for the Babishai haiku award 2017 and I was shortlisted so I gained some following. Many friends asked me to help them with the ‘trick’ of the haiku. I taught so many people the basics of haiku in the process. I didn’t want to submit this year since most of my students were interested, but most of them encouraged me to. I chose my best from the haikus I’d written, hoping that this time, maybe I will win.

What was your process in writing this particular haiku below?

delicate mounds
parting soil in the night
to die out soon

One thing I didn’t want to do was to be inclined to the rules of the haiku(5/7/5 syllable count). I wanted to be free and free I was. I drew my inspiration from mushrooms, I love mushrooms but they come overnight and wither the next day.

In your opinion, what is the future of African haiku?
There’s so much poetry in Africa as a whole. The late buses, the bleating animals, the shameless acts of corruption, the trees that look like humans in the night. The haiku in particular, a special poem, is allover. I believe we can use the haiku to capture images that cameras can’t. However, many young poets think the haiku is too complex and believe they can’t write it but what I’ve learnt during haiku lessons I teach, once one masters the haiku, it’s very easy.

How are we able to share about this haiku experience, with Uganda,
and the world?
I think we just need to write more, and promote the haiku more, like this kind of competition is a good start. If someone sees a haiku, they will be inclined to see more haikus in places they go.

Many Thanks.

 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

JUSTICE JOSEPH PRAH; HAIKU ESSAYIST AND CRITIC FROM GHANA

Justice Joseph Prah, is the name I am known by friends and all. I was born on September 2, 1985 and hail from the South-western part of Ghana, Volta Region, specifically Hohoe. I am an educator, who has since 2005 been teaching African and Western Literature in high school. In 2015, I joined African Haiku Network and become a haiku essayist and critic. I have the penchant for researching about other poets in general and lurching into the void to find their disclosed and undisclosed motivations as well as other reflective reasons.

To me, writing literary or any scholarly material is much like time-travelling into the future to successfully connect with our up and waiting generation while adding your creative mileage to the present achievements chalked by writers. The subject matters we explore subtly today are just not in themselves mere fictionalization of 21st century problems, but throve of information waiting to be accessed by tomorrow’s writers. Look at the tedious duty of the archaeologists and Egyptologists today; what do they do in their quest to reconstruct thousands of indigenous history lost to time and age? They invest billions of dollars year in year out to dig, scratch and surf through tough rocks and drought-ridden territories. They have got one self-tasked assignment; that is, the search for yesterday’s lost literary materials and information! Just like the hieroglyphics, some of us are also quite pleasured to leave traces of our existence here and forever. I equally write to concretely define my environment, its re-occurring problems and beautiful stories worth appreciating especially in academic circles or discourse.

Why were you inclined to submit for the Babishai 2020 haiku award?

I should say in a matter-of-fact tone that I personally did see entering this year’s haiku contest as an inclination to keep exploring my artistic skills in practicing the haiku art. This has been the moving strength behind all contests I participated in even outside Africa. This year’s contest is yet another evidence in itself haiku is no longer a bona fide “poetriculture” of Japanese alone. The evidence is further clear! Look at how haiku poets have in recent year doubled-up all over African continent.

 

What was your process in writing this particular haiku below?

garden opera

in the moon’s spotlight

a frog leads chorus

 

Well, let us say I am inwardly a conservatist-poet still in tuned with the past-but-not-almost-gone good old days that got wrecked in the daunting task of bringing the swift urbanization into our humble continent by the West. A system neo-cultural theorist brought to Africa and put into force to pillage away the green hills, lakes, rivers and our pleasantly idyllic settings. My search for those out-of-sight nature’s influences over our ordinary life is a sacred duty I still hold very nobly.  Every year, when the long-in-coming rains start refilling emptied out ponds, wetlands and guttered rivers, I take a pleasure-stroll around just to record in time exciting sceneries into my journal; great experiences that could possibly inspire most of my haiku including this simple one above.  One graceful evening (a.i 21st June 2019), after two successive rounds of downpour, the expected ‘froggy’ choral croak came this thick and awful from a neighbor’s garden ; such a deafening sound! I came out, braved up and tiptoed so close. Truth be told, I have had countless encounters of this moment before, but this was out-rightly fascinating. Just at where the darkness colored the pond, I spotted a meaty but lone frog in the fallen shadow of the moon’s circle, croaking along with others. Bingo! A haiku moment materialized out of something mercurial. But it is the fine- tuning of the recorded experience into the three-minted lines that brings the awe. . Let me pull off the hook loosely and say the poetic arrangement of the clustered moment into the 15 syllabic fragment and phrase-based sentence did come with a slight toughness as I overly kept revising every line to get the haiku come alive for the contest. Currently, the rains are still pattering and tapping and I am still collecting moments for my next ku.

In your opinion, what is the future of African haiku?

This is the most appropriate question of all. Honestly. ‘Afriku” started not too long ago. In fact, many practitioners of the Basho-art would recall gladly the watershed moment is still a new-comer to some African poets including the old. It has not truthfully gone up the waistline measurement literally. We are still making surprising inroads into the art. Presently, only a fraction of us write and capture the moments right and genuinely believe it is contently different from other forms of poems like ballad, sonnet, limerick, satire, ode etc. Let me add, without guilt that writing a wonderful haiku is not that easy like a leisure walk in a park; it is not an imaginative outcome. It is an experiential write-down of a glamorous moment that turns imaginative in John Keats’ ode. The future for African haiku looks bleak unless we adopt ‘poetricultural’ attitude of repeatedly organizing contests like this to wake ourselves up to keep the art alive. I am so disappointed at a University professor (In one of our leading African Universities) who willingly talked an undergraduate out from writing a whole content of his researched paper on the practice of haiku in Africa some years ago. You are utterly surprised right? Well, that’s the kind of fear I have. But I must take off my cap for Professor Wole Soyinka who undoubtedly praised the new haiku practitioners in Africa a year ago.

 

How are we able to share this haiku experience, with Ghana and the world?

The practice of haiku is highly ubiquitous. When one captures that frozen moment into a three-lined stanza then the whole outcome is no longer a poem but a golden meaning for literary appreciation. Every haiku is expertly written to wake some moments up in us and all the 10 ku selected are not an exception. Rainfall pattern, though slightly variant at all belts of Africa swells up rivers, lakes, puddles as it ushers in frogs that almost look extinct during the dry season. This is a scene everyone from Timbuktu to Zululand is in sync with. Haven’t we all at a point in our growing-up moments enjoyed the discordant “opera’ show of this nocturnal creatures? In one African folktale, the story sits in that the frogs were once rain-makers in the animal kingdom. They croak on unend to charm the rain god. In this haiku how ever, I share with all the power in unification. The dressed up rhythmic sound comes in unison and it expresses a unique theater of people recognizing their togetherness and what it can do for them. As the frogs croak on relentlessly, they consciously inspire humans to take pride in reaching for their collective aspirations, even as different continents, in a pluralistic way. The concepts of individualism, racism and ‘mono-familism’ are unhealthy for the progress of humanity. Again, these amazing creatures exemplify the lingering truth that one cannot easily define what an actual music is. Perhaps, it may be the reason Keats says “heard melodies are sweet, but unheard melodies are the sweetest”

Thank you.

...

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

ALI ZNAIDI FROM TUNISIA; EXCHANGED SCIENCE FOR ART

                                      ALI ZNAIDI; EXCHANGING SCIENCE FOR ART.


Having developed and cultivated a passion for literature, writing, and arts from a young age, I sacrificed medical and scientific studies to get involved in literary studies. I studied English at the university and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Anglo-American Studies in 2002. There is nothing here, in Tunisia, concerning creative writing in the English language. Tunisian publishing houses and magazines publish creative writings either in Arabic or in French. By the way, although it is humble, my experience is unique as I am among a couple of names (which are counted on the fingers) who originally write poetry in English in Tunisia. (Writers here write either in Arabic or in French). Besides, I am the only Tunisian, writing in English language and residing in Tunisia, who is widely published in international literary magazines. Thanks to the Internet and small presses, I have the opportunity to be published in more than 350 international magazines since I have been submitting, which is in itself a great accomplishment, especially in my case as a nonnative speaker of English. For instance, my poem “Curvaceous Black Sappho in White Shoes” was published in the Ak√© Review in 2019 alongside the work of Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature Prof. Wole Soyinka. This is extremely humbling and exciting all at the same time.

Talking about my poems and my use of the English language, Annie Avery editor of Heard Magzine said, 

“Tunisian poet Ali Znaidi’s poems rise up like flowers from the challenges he has faced as a writer. Now in full bloom, his work has been published numerous times with a new chapbook forthcoming. His craft is skillful and inventive and I sense a philosopher peeking out from behind his words. He writes in English as if it was his mother tongue, but the mystical voice of his ancestral gift cannot be hidden.”

I always consider poetry as a kind of a panacea. So I write to heal my wounds. Every word in a poem or haiku functions as an aspirin or a pill. I strongly believe in the healing power of the poetic word. Without poetry, I would lose my self-control. Poetry is my presence in this world. The sheer joy of being published has always its own charm. Reaching the reader makes the day of the poet. That’s why procrastination makes me very anxious and perplexed. Without writing, I feel invisible. I also love writing  because it changes raw and ordinary language into something sublime. I always strive to do so.

Why were you inclined to submit for the #Babishai2020 haiku award?

I submitted 3 haiku poems for the #Babishai2017 haiku award. As I didn’t make it to the longlist, I wanted to give myself another chance by submitting for the #Babishai2020 haiku award . I also love entering writing competitions especially those of high caliber like yours hoping to reach global readership. Well, here I am on the longlist alongside talented writers. Whether we like it or not winning a prize gives the writer exposure and recognition.

What was your process in writing this particular haiku below?

total blackout…
street lamps glow with
mating fireflies

I have always pondered on dichotomies because of the contradictory human nature and the paradoxes available in the environment. I live in Redeyef; a mining town in the south west of Tunisia where from time to time all lights are turned out or extinguished due to a storm, intense heat, or maintenance. So I always wonder what if there is total blackout. Hence the only solace I could imagine is some mating fireflies bestowing their light upon the dimmed or extinguished street lamps. I wanted to create a seemingly picture of hope—mating fireflies and the promise of light multiplication. I tried to capture that light at the end of the tunnel in a country suffering from agents of darkness.

 In your opinion, what is the future of African haiku?

Answering this question about the future of African haiku brings to mind one and only one word, that is promising. With a burgeoning community of such African haiku poets as Adjei Agyei-Baah, Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian, Kariuki wa Nyamu, Anthony Itopa Obaro, Kuadegbeku Pamela, Celestine Nudanu, Blessmond Alebna Ayinbire, Kwaku Feni Adow, and, humbly, myself, just to name a few, the future could only be bright..

How are we able to share about this haiku experience, with Tunisia,
and the world?   

Writing haiku is really an enriching experience. But being a poet who writes in another language rather than Arabic or French in Tunisia is very depressing because of lack of support and audience. The funny side is that, for now, I am more known in the world than in my homeland. Anyway, despite health issues, lack of support, and other hurdles, I’m striving to achieve success.

Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to express myself and for your unflinching zeal in the promotion of haiku in Africa. I am very grateful to the Babishai Poetry Foundation, you (Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva), and the Babishai team for giving African poets and haikuists this opportunity to showcase their work. I also want to congratulate all the longlisted poets and wish them good luck

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

OSHO TUNDE; POET, ACCOUNTANT AND NIGHTINGALE, FROM NIGERIA

Osho Tunde Matthew is a Poet, Accountant, and Nightingale; from Nigeria


First, I will like to express my joy and gratitude for making the prestigious #Babishai2020 haiku long list.
I am a fresh graduate of Accounting and poet resident in Lagos state, Nigeria. I am a Nigerian Nightingale whose works have appeared in a number of poetry anthologies. Aside from books, I love coffee and nature.
About why I write; I write to break the silence of my body, to convey its discontents, joy and other activities. And poetry is my tool.
I was inclined to submit for the Babishai2020 haiku award mainly because I was searching for growth. I have always seen Babishai Niwe foundation as one of the indispensable literary platforms in Africa to raise my voice in such a very noisy world.
Also, the amazing works of Marial Awendit, Kariuki wa Nyamu and other past winners on this platform woke my inclination. Here I am, jumping for the joy of growing and belonging.
The process of writing this haiku was quite taxing and exciting at the same time. It was my first time. Cramming a story in three lines could take a degree of diligence and patience. I allowed the poem to speak to me in many ways– for instance, how broken places could still be home.
I wanted to bear witness for nature existing under my feet without any alteration or misrepresentation of reality. I was deliberate. I took risks of words and form to cut a haiku that could simply tend imagination to accessible experience.
in the wall
deep opening abandoned
geckoes’ room
The future of African haiku in my opinion is glorious. You will be thrilled by the miracles, the various revelations these young poets are making regarding our shared experience as Africans and as humans. Beautiful voices like Ali Znaidi, Kariuki wa Nyamu, Andrew Herbert, Praise Osawaru, Justice Joseph, Ahmad Holderness, Rose Wangari, to mention a few are on the rise with what the foundation is doing. Thumbs up!
Thank you
….