Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sophie Alal, Organic Farmer and Writer

Sophie Alal: Courtesy photo

1. What is your name, profession and how would you describe yourself? I'm Sophie Alal. Apart from writing, I love good food, good conversation and gardening. I love life.

2. What year did you receive an award? What was your position and title of your poem? Mention the theme of the award that year.

Making Modern Love won in 2010. I cannot remember what the theme was. It might have been something to do with modernity. In the previous year, I was runner up with The Rebel Fell, a composition after Pablo Neruda.

3. The theme that year was Money and Culture. What was the writing process of this poem like?

I sat down one afternoon and decided to lightly capture the spirit and urgency of mourners at a lumbe. There was nothing to it, just sat, sweated and wrote until there was a pile of criss-crossed A4 papers at my feet. Then it was down to editing and more editing.

4.How did the award money and the other prizes you received, change your outlook towards writing?

My outlook has never been different. I've always had a soft spot for culture and the arts. So, I gave away the $250 prize money to my little sister who wanted to start a business but did not have enough capital. Winning was the kind of affirmation I needed to probe silences and mine local traditions for other people's, and my own understanding of life.

5. What do you think of the BNPA, now targeting Africa and including men?

Uganda is also in Africa. What has been good for one of us is also good for all of us.

6. BNPA is starting a Scholarship Fund for female poets in primary schools in Uganda. How do you think this will influence their poetry?

I don't know. But, I hope it can include boys too. Who shall be the future readers, lovers and partners of these female poets?

7. What are you working on now, artistically?

Growing an organic herb and vegetable garden.

8. Any final thoughts?

All these wonderful opportunities should not end in Kampala, and African capital cities only. There is incredible talent in villages and small towns too. And many of these gifted poets are yearning for us to reach out and be closer to them.

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