Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unmasking the publishing deception

I’ve unmasked the deception of publishing. My first collection of poetry in chapbook form entitled Unjumping , resembles left- overs from the Titanic before it capsized. To say that I am displeased by the stapling, the book cover paper, the paper type is to put it politely. Seriously? When I asked the publishers why the cover fades after a few weeks, he said that probably because I have too much black on it. Yeuwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!
After spending 800 British sterling pounds to bring the books from the Uk to here, I excitedly unwrapped the box and when I saw the books, my poetry radar went to hell and back. I am now selling the books at a quarter price and I warn all buyers that the cover will fade and begin to look like Wole Soyinka’s beard dipped in Novida soda.
Two weeks ago, I almost pulped the books. I almost drowned them in the maggots in the pit latrine but I reflected on the hard work and now I am sellingthem at 5,000/-.Thanks to all of those that have bought and those that are still calling me for copies. You have made the end of 2010 special for me. Now that I am doing my Masters in Creative writing, there will be a better collection of poetry which after being published, will have a better story.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


BNPA 2011 IS HERE. This is the third round of the BN Poetry Award and we are looking for more poetic passion. The theme this time is HOPE. Criteria: Ugandan women residing in Uganda above 18 years of age. Poems must be submitted under the theme of Hope. Be as creative as possible. Poems must be 12 font single spaced and a maximum of 3 poems will be accepted. Email poems as word attachments to ugpoetryaward@aol.com or mail to PO Box 34942 Kampala, Uganda. Submissions will be accepted from November 15th 2010 to March 31st 2011. This time the award giving ceremony will be held in Jinja. Previous first winners are not permitted to re-enter. PRIZES First prize-250  an autographed copy of Unjumping, by BNN. Second prize-150 USD,and an autographed copy of Unjumping, by BNN. Third prize-100 USD, and an autographed copy of Unjumping by BNN. The next two winners will get the autographed books. Winners from 2009 and 2011 will be published in an anthology. Proudly sponsored by Stitchting Doen. Start sending your submissions.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Unjumping books are in Kampala

So my books, Unjumping are in Kampala, Yes yes blah blah they were published in the Uk,naye really eeeeh they could have done a better job,the binding not all that.. worry not--my husband and I have got a game plan in order to make those books look radically hot so that they are worth every 20,000/-. I am very grateful for the publication and now the launch-oba when?

Th poems look great in print , nwo to get them into the market-how do poets get that done, okay let me do my thing and get the word out.

The workshop was so ....dynamite

The workshop was hot. When I spoke to Ife Piankhi on phone, a Caribbean poet based in Uganda, I had no idea she was dynamite. Sh performed about her experience as a black person in the uk and wow, it was tremendous. Poetry is better once spoken off memory and she said we must read and travel a lot to different places in town , around the country and even across the borders.

Isaac T, coming from an academic background gave us the 411 of good poets to read like Leopold Senghor, Diop, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, T.S Eliot who broke the conventional rules and opened up creative free verse poetry. It was great.

Then we had the debate on if Okot p Bitek is the finest poets that Uganda has ever had, and we learnt about performance , in fact Susan Kerunen of Bayimba shared how she actually performed Okot's Song of Lawino.

As poets, it is also pertinent to have quiet time, we need solitude in order to get deep into ourselves. Being alone is not the same as lonely.Solitude is strength.
Poetry is quite divisive as well. A number of the participants thought that poetry must be performed while others did not and still some felt strongly about rhyming poetry and others not. It was great to go through the evolution of poetry and accept where we are and yet even stil some felt that contemporary poets had destroyed poetry and that we needed to go back to our old traditions. It was such an interesting diccussion. Onthe whole, poetry is about speaking about our environment and since that changes, so will poetry.
We may take the workshop to Pallisa next year after an invitaion from Hope, a poet from the region. We learnt a lot and yes, poetry can be done as a career, why not? If u believe it, why not? Thanks to Stitching Doen for making it all happen. And thanks to everyone that came.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

October's going to be hot

Hi Friends,

during the time I have been away-hopefully making a positive impact at my workplace, i have been thankfully making a small impact around me. Two media articles hav appeared about th poetry event , One in the Observer newspaper on 22 July and the other in the New Vision of 28 July. Thanks guys, but pleeeeeeeeeeeease next time mention the sponsors-hey!
In October, will be holding a poetry training workshop with support fro Stitching Doen-thanks again.

Priority goes to the participants of either 2009 or 2010 poetry award and other interested as well. Looking forward to that and then my family and I will go for a one week holiday in Nairobi and Mombasa.

Hopefully in October, I will also hold my book launch but that depends on how fast I can get the books in Uganda. Take care now.

Cheers y'all great week.

Friday, July 30, 2010

My book, Unjumping is out.

My book, Unjumping is out, the link to it is here.

Monday, July 26, 2010


FRAGRANCE It’s the fragrance, mother; The intoxicating crispy fragrance Of coloured mint coinage. Sometimes the shimmering glitter Of gold or silver. It matters not mother What figures are imprinted on, Just the fragrance! The fragrance that drives me To plunder my core, To pillage my country to nothing, Squandering it to desolation. The fragrance that devours me And sparks hunger pangs, Coercing me to crave and covet theirs Staining my hands with blood It’s the fragrance mother; The musky musty odor Of old and used notes, Sometimes the dull hue of coinage That quenches my thirst and ardor! It matters not mother What figures are imprinted on Just the fragrance mother Just the fragrance. This poem was written by Regina Asinde who emerged second in the BN Poetry Award 2010. She won 150 USD, an autographed book of How to Save Money for Investment by Ken Monyoncho and an autographed poetry collection.

Making Modern Love, first winner BNPA 2010

Making Modern Love We are not like provincial lovers Who wait to stalk funerals That bring opportunities of replacing the departed, Under the watch of the night, in verdant shambas Armed with cash We’ll open our hearts On a plate of chips, with a soft drink Things to nibble and sip, but not too large to distract Maybe chaps? Muchomo and beer later? Chips chicken will soften us for now, And for future food that you commonly acknowledge is delicious. If you should stare in pockets so deep That the residential wallet is unseen by short fingers Soon enough other networks become sexy, Offering side dishes and desserts For we’ll soon meet other friends with longer arms It is constantly recommended by wily winners That going dancing eases misgivings In tender bones, Unlikely to be tempered by the softness of night lights. But if all is careening towards a cold spell Drinks should be laid out till we are released from thinking. We saw a secondary virgin sobbing at a table for two Weighed down by the meanings of disease. We saw a man who had become a man For he knew now, how close he was to the deceased And vaguely inundated with curses of,” Shit happens.” Stumbled away with thoughts that grew from booze And the dregs of making modern love. So while good things begin to afflict us now And beautiful things course through dull heads, Causing wings of desire to grow like mushrooms in a mist Of opportunity, At last. We shall soon make modern love. This poem was written by Sophie Brenda Alal, who emerged first in the BN Poetry Award 2010. She won 250 USD, an autographed book of How to Save Money for Investment by Ken Monyoncho and an autographed poetry collection.


He roughly pushes through the populous kikubo lane. The titanic load on the head sinking his neck into his torso forcing his body to dwarf. "Fasi Fasi..." his mouth cries hoarsely, his tongue licking rivulets of sweat off his hard muscled face. His rapid pace slows, at the bounds of the thick crowd, his eyes blindly staring at the shoes of those in front of him, waiting hopefully for them to give space. A sharp pain cut into his left ear like water puffed through the nose. The rhythmical throbbing of his heart climbing to the head he felt hot, so hot that it hurt... His blood boiling at an increased degree. His head pounding hard asit swayed up, front and back. "A voice was calling..." His hands weakened letting loose of the load, suddenly his head felt heavy as his whole body slipped away from his will to reach his destination, " I am not going to be paid..." His mind concluded. he felt his head thinning, separating from the load at the jet of his breath as he fell on top of his face. This poem was written by Nakisanze Segawa who emerged third in the BN Poetry Award 2010. She won 100 USD, an autographed book of How to Save Money for Investment by Ken Monyoncho and an autographed poetry collection.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm getting published this year

Recently, I emerged second in an international poetry competition. My prize is a publishing contract and publication of my poetry in a chapbook. I'm thinking of a name, maybe Unjumping. Heere is part of the email.
DELIGHTED! Your runners-up prize will be a publishing contract with erbacce-press, publication of a 36 page chap-book of your work and six free copies of your new chap-book... we can start on this as soon as you like Beverley; I'll need the following:

A FULL snail mail address.
A title for your work.
A selection of your work (as much as you like).
A head-shoulders photo of yourself for the rear cover.
A dedication if you'd like one.
Any acknowledgements you'd like to include.

The Judges all liked your work...

My Candle

My Candle

Poem in respect and condolence to the bereaved after the July 11th terrorist attack in Kampala, 2010. Written by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva

My Candle

My Candle Will Light Your Candle
My Comfort will shoulder your grief
My smile will alter your frown
My closeness will decrease the distance

I have no answers
But I have my heart, my words and my strength
The shadows of tragedy
Try to conceal the happiness we deserve
We do not choose to forget
We choose to seal our differences
With a bridge that only a heart can build
Because only a heart understands

May My candle light your candle

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Cup has everything to do with poetry.

From the opening ceremony to the most popular and least popular teams, I believe that World Cup has everything to do with poetry and nothing to do with football. The glamour of the artistes, musicians, dancers, rappers and fans, football becomes insignificant. There is no politician in the world that can accomplish the feat of gathering 64 nations from across histories of imperialism, borders of tyranny, politics of injustice and make them sit in the same stadium for more than one hour. There is no reason why a black and white leather ball redefines unity in a more rational way than hundreds of Protocols, UN meetings, Government efforts, ratifications and so on and so on and so on and so on. It just defies logic. And that is why The World Cup has everything to do with poetry. Most poetry defies logic; or does it?
I wrote this poem below after the infamous head butt of Zidane, who got the golden boot after that world cup. His career was dented but he left a memory in all of us. I’m not sure what I’ll write about this year.

World Cup 2006!

Head butt me on my chest.
Amidst all the cheers and applause!

Head butt me on my thighs.
I’ll open them for your pleasure.

Head butt me on my back.
We’ll fall and roll down together.

Head butt me on my head.
So I can score a goal with my tongue.

Head butt me on my feet.
I’ll dribble your face into my net.

Head butt me on my ears.
I’ll listen to your every fear.

Head butt me. Let the whistle blow!
Let them scream. Let’s give them a show.

Head butt me. Lose the game.
My love for you will be the same.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Taking poetry to schools

The top left photo is with teachers at GreenHill Academy. The top right photo is at Kitante Hill with the students. The second is at Gayaza High School during the first term in 2010 introducing the project.
This poetry schools' project is Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award’s collaborative plan with schools to promote development in the region. The proposal emphasizes the linkage of development to poetry. It highlights practical ways that students, can use poetry as a unique form of communication to sensitise their peers in the region on the importance of development. The student poets will use language which is most suitable for their fellow peers, they will emphasise the overall benefits of development practices like investment, the economy, saving culture and reading and writing culture. The poetry award will also emphasise promoting a reading and writing culture and poetry as investment for the future. The stakeholders involved are Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, founder of this project and GILGAL Family Network, that shall provide the art work, design and printing. There shall be eight secondary and primary schools taking part in the pilot project of 2010 in Kampala and Wakiso Districts. The poetry award schools project shall take part in the first, second and third school terms starting in 2010. After the submission of poems from the students, a panel of judges shall select the best poems and then print them on posters which shall then be distributed in schools to promote financial literacy in the region. The winning poems of shall be published into poetry magazines . These magazines shall then be distributed in the region for easy reading, promotion of poetry and literature. The schools I have visited so far are Gayaza High School, Green Hill Academy,both primary and secondary and Kitante Hill School. The award giving ceremonies shall take place in the second term.

Vision: A society immersed in poetry.
Mission: Reaching out to communities through poetry.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I Baptize you with my child's blood and Hymn I loved long ago (Internet source)

May 24, 2010 - In April, I was on a winning streak; which is good because it authenticates my Ugandan poetry award. I was amongst the winners of a National Competition organised by Raising Voices.I recall back then in April and May when I posted this original article, I was looking for an old English hymn I used to love. Today, August 2013, I am using the hymn in a novel and so found the complete words on the internet. I have also been announced on the shortlist for Poetry Foundation Ghana Prize of 2013. The details are on the August 1st 2013 blog post. I Vow To Thee My Country Hymn I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above, Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love: The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test, That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best; The love that never falters, the love that pays the price, The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice. And there's another country, I've heard of long ago, Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know; We may not count her armies, we may not see her King; Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering; And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase, And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Donors: I hate not loving you

In October last year 2009, I met Claudia Fontes, an evaluator of Doen Foundation, which is an organization in The Netherlands that supports cultural projects in developing countries. She came to Uganda to evaluate the art projects and as a member of FEMRITE, and founder of the first award for Ugandan poetry targeting women. Well, Claudia seemed to pretty cool and genuinely interested in the development of the work sponsored by Doen Foundation. The highlight for me was having a real in-depth discussion about me for me and towards my progress. And also, to passionately talk about poetry for poetry’s sake. Lovely. I ate into the whole day. I met interesting people like Ugly MC. Yes, that’s his name, Ugly MC, who is in charge of the regular Bonfire night of spoken word performances especially in the local lingua.

Generally, we decided on which projects have actually benefited and individual progress in the arts. During this round, we all submitted our stories of how we had done greatness in the arts. Hee Hee! The second time round in April, I was called upon with others for the final round. Apparently, Doen felt I was worthy of another chat. This time round, I actually got to meet the local faculty who have been kind of monitoring Doen projects in the country. David Kaiza, forgot to mention him before. He came again. He is amongst the most singular fantastic literary critics of our time.

Anyway, this time I kind of represented Ugandan poetry at a whole new level. There were other artistes, movie makers, playwrights, publishers, and of course Claudia and the Doen Faculty. It was such a pleasure to meet them. They made all of us look into ourselves and our art at all angles. From the sake of art as art, to its commercial sense, nationalistic and holistic sense etc… There is almost nothing as discussing art at every angle, mincing the hard parts, chewing out the stones and digesting the stew together with a bunch of other quacks (read artistes) over cups of tea. Delicious! Well, of course I picked interest in Down because it is not every day that development partners take keen sincere interest in their recipients. I am also glad to know that The Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award is actually not a waste of time. It actually has potential to fly. And we shall fly, thanks to you, you and you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Reviewing 2010 Poetry Submissions

Top is Kiiza Kimbugwe of WordAlive Publishers and bottom is Pretty,one of the poetry performers that evening. This month May, the Judges are reviewing the submissions. There have been much more than last year's which is a plus. Iga Zinunula and Joseph Mugasa, the latter is the President of the Literature Fraternity of Uganda. After they have selected their shortlist. This year's award ceremony has been set for 16th July 2010. WordAlive Publishers (bless them) is still on board as sponsors, and I am happy about that.

FEMRITE article on Poetry Award

Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva was nominated for the August 2009 Arts Press Association (APA) Awards for revitalizing poetry in Uganda after initiating the Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award, the first poetry award for Ugandan women.
- Lillian Aujo Akampurira won first prize in the Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award for her poem, Soft Tonight. Sophie Brenda Alal won third prize for her poem, The Rebel Fell.
- Catherine Kemigisha won the second prize for the Beverly Nambozo Poetry Award.


The Observer newspaper article dated 3rd September 2009

Poetry award of a different kind
Sizzling Entertainment
Written by David Tumusiime
Thursday, 03 September 2009 04:50
The literary world is used to literary awards having elderly patrons, men and women in their 50s and 60s. Or even more commonly, awards named after some dead notable.

This is just one of the many reasons why the Beverly Nambozo Poetry Award stands out.
Beverly Nambozo Nsengiyunva is no elderly lady.

The bubbly, petite Beverly is in fact a new mother with a 10-month-old baby, one of the younger members of FEMRITE, and an ambitious published poet herself.

If anything, Beverly is barely at the beginning of her life. So what in heaven’s name would possess her to start a literary award? And one named after herself?

“I feel strongly that there are so many poets, female poets, who are underground. I know for a fact that I have so many poems I have written.

I show them to a few people but that is where it ends because I don’t have the confidence to publish them. I want to motivate the women poets out there,” Beverly says.

Beverly was not in the least intimidated in setting up the first Ugandan literary award in a long time because, “I am a bold person really. I have been working in gender based organisations and I have a feeling for women.

This is something that I can do for Ugandan women. I felt that the time was now to do something to uplift poetry in the country. I decided to do it and see how it goes.”

How it went down at Fang Fang Restaurant on August 21 was that three young women emerged from the 60 poem submissions; Lillian Ajuo, Kemigisha Catherine, and Sophie Brenda. The overall winner, Ajuo, claimed 250 dollars, the first runner up, Kemigisha, got 150 dollars, while Sophie Brenda took 100 dollars for coming third.

The well attended event definitely impressed.
“I underestimated the cost of the event. At first I had thought I would hold a small event in the FEMRITE gardens but people kept on encouraging me to go all the way,” Beverly admitted afterwards.

“It is a learning process. Thankfully I did get some sponsors. Word Alive Publishers, UHMG, Uganda Clays and FEMRITE were on board and that helped a lot. I am going to prepare earlier for next year’s event.”

The poet whose 67-poem manuscript I’m Jumping is ready for publication named the award after herself because, “I don’t have anyone else’s name to call it. I decided to use my name because it will make me work harder to make sure it is successful. It is also my way of attracting writers to me. I enjoy the company of writers.”

To qualify for the Beverly Nambozo Poetry Award, you must be female, above 20 years, and resident in Uganda. Each poet is allowed to submit at least three pieces.



The First Beverley Nambozo Annual Poetry Award For Women
On the 21st August 2009, the first Beverley Nambozo Annual Poetry Award ceremony was held and graced with the presence of the Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, as the Chief Guest. On a beautiful night out under the open skies, the true stars of the evening were the poetry gems revealed to the public.

The Award is the brain-child of Beverley Nambozo, a poetry gem in her own right, with a passion for helping young writers, particularly women to develop their talents. The Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award will be an annual event. Every woman with a creative spirit, should have a chance at empowering themselves with the pen.

Rt. Hon Rebecca Kadaga, in her keynote address urged the corporate world to sponsor such innovative and educative events. She also said that these literary awards should be placed on Uganda’s national calendar.

The top three awards went to Ms. Sophia Brenda Alal who won a cash prize of $100 for “The Rebel Fell”, Ms. Catherine Kemigisha won a cash prize of $150 for “Better at Dawn” and the very first winner of the Beverley Nambozo Annual Poetry Award is Ms. Lillian Aujo who won a cash prize of $250 for “Soft Tonight”.

Ms. Aujo is a student of Law at Makerere University. Her winning poem, won the hearts of the judges who judged each poem anonymously.

The next call for submissions for next year begins in November. The awards target Uganda women who have not yet published a book and are residing in Uganda. The award ceremony attracted over 150 guests from academia, publishing houses, writers and poets and friends of poetry.

Beverley's aim is to have winning poems published in an anthology. She appreciates all those that submitted and looks forward to more for the next awards.


New Vision Article, September

‘Soft Tonight’ wins first poetry award
Tuesday, 8th September, 2009

By Nigel Nassar

The winning poem at the Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award, held at Fang Fang Restaurant, could not have been anything other than Lillian Akampurira Aujo’s Soft Tonight, an awesome take on romance with a submissive and trusting tone.

“I feel so soft tonight…I feel like butter under the sun…on hot stone spreading out…melting…flowing a yellow rivulet sliding down that slab towards you. I hope you catch every trickle of love…I hope you catch every drop of me…when I drip into your palms…’cause I feel so soft tonight.” Soft Tonight took home a winning prize of $250 (about sh600,000).

Nambozo, the awards’ founder and member of Uganda Association of Women Writers (FEMRITE), said the poem’s form was something of a marvel to the judges and herself Nambozo hopes to get the winning poems published to encourage other female poets. The event was sponsored by WordAlive Publishers and Uganda Health Marketing Group.

2010 Poetry Award

In 2010, I took a new approach. I decided to thematise the poetry award. Because of several attempts to teach financial literacy, I used the theme of Money and Culture to promote the Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award. The advert appeared as below. Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award is here again this time linking poetry to financial literacy and so we invite you to push your pens to the pinnacle. The theme for the 2010 Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award is Money and Culture. Criteria:  Ugandan women residing in Uganda  Unpublished poems between 15 to 30 lines  Poems must be in English following the theme, Money and Culture. Translations from local languages are acceptable.  Submit your poems by email to ugpoetryaward@aol.com or by post to P O Box 8470 Kampala, Uganda  Typed poems must be in Times new Roman size 12 single spaced. Handwritten poems must be in blue or black ink.  Submissions will be accepted from November 15th 2009 to March 31st 2010  We accept up to 3 submissions.  Include the title of poem, your name, phone contact and email address separate from each actual submission. PRIZES: The first three winners will receive 250 USD, 150 USD and 100 USD respectively. In addition, all first six winners will receive autographed copies of poetry and How to Save Money for Investment by celebrated Kenyan author and motivational speaker Ken Monyoncho. All shortlisted winners will receive writing journals. 

The Media Hype

The Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award, has, since its inception attracted so much media attention. It is more than I can grapple with. In August 2009, I was also nominated for the Arts Press Association (APA) Awards for revitalizing poetry in the country. Things like this make me realize that I am doing the right thing. And that feels so good. Some of the media links are below, From The Daily Monitor, The New Vision and The Bi-weekly Observer. I have also appeared twice on Record TV and in The Education Times Magazine. Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, from small time poet to media hyped poet activist.

The Rebel Fell, third winner of the first Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award


Somewhere a bullet pierces a woman,
Beyond the reaped edges of her clan’s farmland.
She gets caught in a thicket whose thorns she does not feel,
Limp feet drag onto a tree whose name the woman does not know
With the sun at her back,
Here breaks the charm for luck.
Off her neck are the fetishes
From the sacrificial white hen, herb and hallowed water
To the bosom of the waiting earth.

The woman slumps, face down-
Watching her life drain away
Now the stained soil seeps from her lips;
Heavily the grain is still in the sack-
drawn to the feast a fly lands on her lips.
The light dips lower as the last sounds
Mute in the darkness, still she droops lower
into a night without mourning.

About her who fell unceremoniously
One day someday shall write;
No rock or wood marks the grave
Of these bleached broad bones
Save for a clump of wild sorghum
Hailing her lost name

By Sophie Brenda Alal
This poem won third prize in the first ever Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award in 2009, the first poetry award of its kind for Ugandan women. Sophia Brenda Alal won a cash prize of 100 USD. T

Better At Dawn--second winner of Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award

If I am going home tomorrow
Let it be at dawn
Before I have heard the cock crow
Thrice at noon
But not at dusk
After I have seen lurking shadows on the walls
Neither in the night
When a knock on the door
Shall hang my soul over roasting fire
And set me on a precipice
Let it be at dawn
For then, I shall go fulfilled.
Should I not at dawn
I shall have to return
To settle the score
For I never for got an injury
Never forgave an insult.
To pay the debts I owe
For I was never dishonest
Then, I shall go in peace
At dawn I must depart
So let me go – at dawn
After I have traveled around this world
Eaten all the delicacies
Drank from the wells of Love,Unity and Justice
And tasted all the sweet wine of forgiveness
When I have found my lost treasure
When I have cast all my miseries into the sea
It shall be utter dawn
And I shall be gone.

This poem won second prize in the first Beverey Nambozo Poetry Award. It was written by Catherine Kemigisha. She won 150 US Dollars

The Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award; Its Genesis

I am called Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva. In 2008, during my first maternity leave, sitting at home with lots of time to churn my mind, I set up the Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award. I established it after thinking of all those closet poets in Uganda who write good poetry and stuff it in their pillows or hide it on their laptops. I thought of all those women and girls who would otherwise be great poets in Uganda but have not got a platform to propel themselves. That is how the award started. I sent out a call to various list serves, targeting Ugandan women who do not have their own book of poetry published as yet. I was targeting the unestablished female poets. Between December 2008 and March 2009, I started to receive a response. This startled me. I am not at all a renowned poet by any means. A few of my poems have been published in various journals and I have been invited to a number of regional festivals. I do not however, consider myself a renowned poet. And so to name a poetry award after myself did not only require faith but an amount of insanity. Well, it worked. A couple of poet friends of mine agreed to be the judges. I approached published poet and lecturer, Iga Zinunula, poet and critique and Hilda Twongyeirwe, the Coordinator of FEMRITE. It was in March that I also gave my three month notice at EASSI, a regional organization where I was earning a lot of money by any standards, driving a good car and where my husband and I could afford to go for expensive dinners once a week. If it wasn’t Chinese, then Indian or Mexican. Life was good. I sacrificed all this for the greater call of poetry. And also, to spend more time with my baby girl at the time. In Uganda, it is difficult to explain to people why you left a great job to be home with the baby and to coordinate poetry projects. What is poetry? How do you survive? Don’t you need money? Of course, I need money. I decided to hold the first award giving ceremony on August 16th at Fang Fang Restaurant. A week towards the event, I still did not have enough money and the sponsors who had promised to be a part were delaying to pay up. Finally, UHMG, Uganda Clays Ltd and WordAlive Publishers gave me 1,000,000/- each. I am so grateful for that but it was far from enough. A week to the event I also did not have a guest of honour for the event and being a first, I needed one. With nothing to lose, I sent a letter to Rt. Hon Rebecca Kadaga., The Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda. In two days, she responded. It was then my belief in miracles was reenacted. The award giving ceremony was nothing short of spectacular. Almost 200 people attended the event. Rt. Hon Kadaga spoke so highly of it and offered to make it a National event. All I could think of were the butterflies of unexplainable joy and satisfaction. All the hard work and tears; it was all worth it. All of it. It was worth it. I haven’t felt so accomplished as that in a long time. I had started what nobody yet had dared to. I had ventured into greatness and I was not regretting it one tiny bit. The winner of the first Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award was Lillian Aujo. All the judges unanimously agreed on her. Her poem, Soft Tonight displayed uniqueness and simplicity of language, soothing imagery, and a lot of promise for the poet. Even the physical shape was a mind blower. The poem is below. Lillian won 250 US Dollars, thanks to WordAli Publishers, UHMG and Uganda Clays Limited , the sponsors. FEMRITE offered a lot of moral and coordination support. Soft tonight I feel so… … soft… tonight… I feel like… …butter… under the sun… …on hot stone… spreading out… melting… …flowing… a yellow rivulet… sliding down that slab… …towards you… I hope you catch every t…r…i…c…k…l…e…of love I hope you catch every d…....r…...o…...p…...of me when I d…r…i…p…intoyourpalms ‘cause I feel so… …soft… tonight. The second winner was Catherine Kemigisha, for her poem, Better at Dawn and Sophie Alal was third for her poem, The Rebel Fell.