Thursday, August 18, 2011

Interview done by Mildred Barya, August 2011

This interview first appeared on Mildred's blog, One Writer's Life.

It’s a pleasure to have a conversation with one of my favorite poets, Beverley Nambozo. I like what she does with eroticism in her poems. She certainly takes it to an art form. It’s rare to come across good erotic poetry.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by blank sheets of paper because there is a load of potential to create something on that space. Professional dancing also inspires me because it involves the whole body and soul.

How did you come up with B.N Poetry award?

It was the realization that poetry is marginalized, misunderstood, under-resourced and misrepresented in Uganda to a large extent, that I felt I would play my small role in encouraging talented poets to come out with their work. I know there are many closet poets and I felt, having a heart for women, that I would create this platform for them to be visible. I also have a great passion for reading and writing poetry because it is language used in such a clever way to address something important.

What has been the best part of it?

The best part has been the growing submissions each year, the support from local and international donors and the media and its potential for growth. I love receiving submissions from new poets countrywide and creating something potentially fresh for the award each year.

What has been the most challenging?

Selling the vision to the corporate sector of Uganda as a way of fundraising and creating the administrative side of the award and its process.

Ten years from now what do you hope to achieve through BN poetry award?

I hope to have at least one well written and edited anthology of poetry from the poets, a very interactive and active website, an office and a large committed group of female poets from East Africa whose poetry is making great social impact on the global scene.

What is poetry to you?

Poetry is music with the mind. It is the creation of words to make people see life in a different way. It is special. It is a living room of thought and expression.

What are some of your favorite poems and/or poets?

Emily Dickinson’s poem, I’m nobody, who are you? Dylan Thomas’ poem, Do not go gentle into that goodnight, Dr. Susan Kiguli’s poem I am Tired of Talking in Metaphors, Okot p Bitek’s Song of Lawino are amongst my favorite.

How did you come up with Unjumping, the title of your poetry book?

The title came from the desire to pause, rewind, pause and undo parts of my life in order to start afresh and live life anew.

Three poems from Beverley’s book, Unjumping, published by erbacce-press in Liverpool, UK, 2010.

Dance Partner

You were my dance partner for 6 years
But even when my nipples shook
Our cheeks touched
Our legs intertwined
For you; it was just about dancing
For 6 years our fingers touched
Our knees kissed
Our backs mopped the floor
For 6 years, I trembled on the dance floor
Your eyes looked into mine-you were frozen
My eyes looked into yours-I was melted
For 6 years, our sweat made patterns on the floor
Our shadows flew across the stage
Audiences watched us
For me; it was about love
Couldn’t you notice?
When I nearly blinded you as I pulled my skirt higher and higher
When I lay over you with my mouth wide open
I was asking for more than the dance
I was asking for the dancer

At the graveyard

At the graveyard I sit on my father’s lap.
Where we can talk.
Of what could have been but was not.
Here he has many friends,
Even his mother-in-law brings him flowers.

Now I understand why he has to write.
It keeps him alive.

We saved him by killing him.
Because now he writes.
He recited a poem for me
And my mother discovered my frozen tears
on my father’s stone


Today I decided to unjump

To unsing the song of yesteryear

To unsweep the dirt of last time

Running, Unjumping and Running from myself

I need to unjump

So I can JUMP

Today I decided to unfeel

To undo my deeds

To unwrite my story

Undoing, Unjumping and Undoing myself

I need to unjump

So I can JUMP

I unthink, I unlearn, I uncry


Beverley Nambozo is a poet born in Uganda in 1976. Currently she’s studying for a Masters in Creative writing at Lancaster University, UK. She’s the founder of the annual BN poetry award, which is a platform of poetic inspiration for Ugandan women mainly. She lives in Kampala with her husband, Emmanuel and daughter Zion. She loves to travel the world because, “God in His wisdom has created the universe for a reason. I want to visit that reason.” You can order copies of Unjumping from Beverley, various writing outlets in Uganda, and erbacce-press in Liverpool, UK.