Thursday, June 26, 2014

Aujo Still Feels Soft Tonight

I feel so...


.. soft...


I feel like...



under the sun...

...on hot stone...

spreading out...



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...



Lillian Aujo, left, with friends: Photo by Buyondo)

Lillian Aujo wrote this poem, Soft Tonight and emerged winner in 2009. The theme was open then and all judges agreed it deserved to win because of its musicality, the exceptional tone of voice, subtle suggestions of erotica and the daring imagery. Lillian is a lawyer and works at Centenary Bank in Kampala. Her short stories have been published with Femrite and The Caine Prize anthology, A Memory This Size. She blogs at

What was the writing process of this winning poem like?

Pretty much spontaneous. I wrote it in ten minutes. The moment the idea popped into my head I couldn’t let it be without jotting it down immediately. I had this good nervous rush that I only get when something big is about to go down. I just didn’t know the poem would win an award.

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

It made me happy that other people valued my poetry as much as I did. We live in a society where poetry as a genre is barely appreciated. It’s thought of as eccentric and purely academic. But poetry is most times fore mostly for enjoyment’s sake; winning BN with this particular poem was the validation that other people than myself enjoy poetry.

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

I think it’s BNPA is spreading her wings. It’s awesome that she’s spreading the poetry gospel to all of Africa. I am all for affirmative action (and we shall all not forget the role in promoting women’s voices in poetry), but now all those gentlemen can stop grumbling about women having it easier: it’s level ground now gentlemen.

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

It will definitely make them work harder at the craft. There’s a saying in my language, loosely translated it’s ‘a stick is bent when it’s still tender’, so in the same vein these young girls have a good chance of putting the habit of writing good poetry at a tender age. No doubt they will make better writers sooner than later.

What are you working on now, artistically?

There’s always a good or bad poem in a notebook somewhere. I am also working on short stories, exploring Afrofuture/mythical themes

Any final thoughts?

I admire people who not only change the face of things, but also inspire change in others: BNPA has changed the poetry landscape in Uganda (favourably), and it’s one of those things at the back of my mind that keeps me pushing on with writing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Writing Process International Writing Tour

Thanks to Lillian Aujo for nominating me for the My Writing Process" international tour.

1. What are you working on?

I am working on a novel called Elgona. I love the name of the novel so much that I sometimes spend more time on that, than the actual novel. Elgona is the name of a feisty 9 year old living in England in a private school, with a family whose eccentricities and her own, cause ripples of misadventures, police interventions, near child-napping, sheroisms and clashes with identity crises.

Secondly, is PoeTRicks: an adventure toolkit for Children who read and write poetry. It is an unravelling of the maze of poetry’s many questions and an unveiling of poetry’s many faces. This handbook is a precious fit for children who struggle with what poetry is about.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Elgona does hold some non-fictional truths which no one can challenge and a lot of it is the bearing of my soul and unabashed self, which again, surprise me at many levels. The writing enables me to rediscover a life I lived and share it with others in a way that is entertaining, introspective and a little bizarre. Children have some of the most shocking encounters with reality and their interpretations, which are deeply honest and bold, enable readers and adults to not only be kinder towards them but also to appreciate honesty and integrity.

3. Why do you write what you do?

Because I’m moved by the need around me, the need in children and other older readers. I am moved to redefine my future and other futures of women and girls and because I believe that poetry is Literature’s most sacred form. Being in that presence, strengthens me to write more.

4. How does your writing process work?

It usually doesn’t. Of late, I’ve taken to 2 hour morning walks, after which I am able to create anything, especially in my head. I write in my head as I walk and hopefully it ends up on my laptop screen. I am learning how messages from our minds filter into our real lives and so self empowerment through personal confidence-building and finding new creative spaces is my new writing process. It’s working because my words these days have found newer avenues to settle and feel at home.

The other writers I nominate are Sanyu Kisaka, who blogs at Sanyu Kisaka is an undergraduate theater student and NYUAD. She is a singer, actress, and Lyricist. Sanyu is currently working on a short story and was winner of the 2011 Bn Poetry Award for her poem, A Handswing of Disguised Depravity.

The other writer is Esther-Karin Mngodo, Tanzanian poet. Esther Karin Mngodo has worked as a storyteller and a journalist for ten years focusing her work on children, youth and women. As a full time employee of The Citizen newspaper (2005-2009) and she worked directly with children through school visits and holding empowerment talks with schoolchildren, preparing content that would entertain, educate and shape the minds of young Tanzanians. She blogs at