Each week, we interview our guests coming for the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival scheduled for 24-26 August 2016 in Kampala. In partnership with Praxis magazine, we want to share the power of poetry. This week, it’s Lekpele Nyamalon from Liberia, award-winning poet, public speaker and author of recent poetry collection, ‘Yearnings of a Traveller.’
1. Lekpele, you’re the founder of Africa’s Life, a non-profit organization that supports youth towards motivational speaking and life-skills. Does this have any bearing to your own childhood?
It does. As a child, I was constantly thrilled by the lives of other successful people. Eachtime a guest was invited to speak to us at school, I looked forward to someday becoming like one of them, coming back in a similar capacity to motivate other young people.
2. How supportive has Open Society of West Africa been to your poetry in Liberia?
Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) did a tremendous job by exposing emerging poets like me to a larger platform of self belief. The experience on Goree Island, Senegal sponsored by OSIWA remains a treasured memory.
3. How would you describe your debut collection, ‘Yearnings of a Traveller,’ in three words?
Journey. Adventure. Homecoming.
4. You won the 2015 World Poetry Day celebrations, organized by Young People Today in South Africa. Do you think older people are being marginalised in literary circles in Africa?
I think the wave of literary and artistic expressions are taking a sweeping wave across the continent and a rude awakening is taking place.
5. The theme for the Babishai 2016 Poetry Festival is Abundance: Poetry from Contemporary Africa. What does this mean to you?
This means that poetry has transcended the traditional approaches. Spoken word and direct forms of expressions that come from the soul are emerging genre of the art that must be accommodated nowadays.
6. In June, Babishai will hold its inaugural Poetry on The Mountain and while there, launch a poetry collection on Mt. Rwenzori. How significant is this act of taking poetry to the mountain?
It speaks of spending time with nature, the unspoken companions of poets and listening to them.
7. What diet do you think is best for poets?
I think a healthy diet with lots of water works.
8. When you think of poetry in Uganda, what comes to mind immediately?
9. Any parting remarks?
It has been a remarkable journey and I look forward to a unique blend of experiences from other poets from across Africa at the Babishai Poetry festival.
Thank you for your time.
For Babishai Poetry Festival details, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on @BNPoetryAward