WHAT HAS SANYU KISAKA BNPA 2011 WINNER, BEEN UP TO?
What is your name, profession and how would you describe yourself?
I am Sanyu Kisaka. I am a student at New York University Abu Dhabi, having spent three years there so far. I describe myself as a lover of words and an artist. I am an actor and poet.
What year did you receive an award? What was your position and title of your poem? Mention the theme of the award that year.
I won the BNPA award in July 2011. I came first with the poem “A Hand Swing of Disguised Depravity”. The theme that year was HOPE.
What was the writing process of this poem like?
Rather than thinking of writing about the theme, I wrote about a person who I found myself wishing and hoping for. That way, it was easier.
How did the award money and the other prizes you received, change your outlook towards writing?
The award money and prizes did not change my outlook towards writing but the award ceremony as a whole did. I realized that when one speaks from the heart on a theme that everyone can relate to, it becomes easier to grasp another’s heart. So my outlook to writing became removed from the personal to something more external and for those around me. I received 250 US Dollars, an autographed copy of The African Saga by Dr. Susan Kiguli, an autographed copy of Unjumping by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva and some creatively designed jewellery by Bona 2 Designs.
What do you think of the BNPA, now targeting Africa and including men?
I think the inclusion of men is a good addition however to target Africa removes the uniqueness the award had to Ugandans. I think Ugandan poets still need affirmation for their poetry and BNPA was giving them that support before they apply for the bigger continental awards. For emerging poets, the idea of sending in their work may appear daunting simply because it’s now open to all of Africa.
BNPA is starting a Scholarship Fund for female poets in primary schools in Uganda. How do you think this will influence their poetry?
I love this idea. I would love to participate if BNPA is hiring. I think this is an excellent idea not just for the promotion of poetry but also as a way to promote the rapidly dwindling grammar present in primary schools in Uganda. I hope the more that young girls see that those thoughts they have in secret or through gossip, can be jotted down and paper and be seen as art then the more they will write and write well.
What are you working on now, artistically?
As a student, I am currently focusing on my technique as an actor. For my final project, I hope to merge the theater and spoken word in a thirty-minute piece in which I explore woman-hood. It shall be a yearlong project that ends next May.
Any final thoughts?
BNPA is doing a great job for writers in Uganda and I’m happy to contribute to that.
Thank you Sanyu, as ebullient as ever.?