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 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.