Marial Awendit is a poet, satirist, fine artist and a songwriter, from South Sudan.
His poems have been published in the Brittle Paper, Kalahari Review, African writer, Praxis Magazine Online, Best New African Poets 2016 Anthology and elsewhere. He won the 2016 South Sudan Talent Youth award for Best Poet. He writes from his hometown, Yerul, Eastern Lakes State, where he works with Caritas-D.o.R -a humanitarian aid organization.
Q: What was the process of writing your particular poem, 38 Photographs of Depression?
A: I had fallen in deep grief after my brother was killed by a kinsman on 28th March, 2014 and the resultant death of my father on 4th November, 2014. I could not at all see anything worthwhile in a world that I will have to walk through for the rest of my life. My body had dimmed against my will. I was depressed, I was told. In 2015, I had this thought of wanting to purge myself of the night inside me, through poetry, but didn’t. I actualized that on 28th March of 2017, explaining what I feel while being honest to myself and the Universe, but it was then just 28 Photographs of Depression. I kept it intact in my case until I made it to 38 Photographs of Depression one good afternoon in September of 2017.
Q: What does poetry mean to you?
A: (Giggles). I am in deep gratitude for poetry. I am not sure now if what I breathe in is poetry or oxygen. Poetry is the boat that ferries this half-dead body housing a living soul through the world. My hammer for crafting and finding pleasure. I get resurrected in a poem when dead in the world.
Q: What are your five year goals with your poetry?
A: I am devotedly aiming at having 3 poetry collections and 2 chapbooks out before the end of 2021, Inshallah. All aimed at achieving complete beauty.
Q: Which African poets are you keen on reading?
A: I believe Africa is blessed with beautiful poets. I find peace in reading J.K. Anowe (my favorite), Warsan Shire, Leila Chatti, Sahro Ali, Romeo Oriogun and Safia Elhillo.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face with poetry?
A: I lack a writing space and time. Where I live, I have to balance writing and a tight job. Sometimes in writing from my unique social context as mine, I feel alienated by the literary world, depicting poetry to me as unappreciative of certain contexts. I also have a very hard time keeping my works safe. On 17th May, 2016, I lost 150 poems to a close conspirator. Hitherto, I have either recovered or restructured only a hundred poems.
Q: Is there anything of importance you would share with the literature teachers, who are reading this?
A: Teachers of literature ought to identify a talent in writing and nurture that talent. Poetry taught should be a curative form of expression so it can be a tool for social change. I have experienced that effective. Look, the poem on this shortlist was intended to cure me. You can easily explain now how much I got cured making it to the Babishai Niwe Poetry Award shortlist with a poem that was meant to only heal me.
Q: Any parting remarks?
A: Gawd! The works on that shortlist are fireworks but I probably would not have seen them if the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation never thought of a poetry prize, just like I would have not been here. Poetry is creation, BNPA is creation! Thank you Babishai Niwe! Thank you Africa!
The #Babishai2018 shortlist can be read here: