In Summary
  • The world marks World Poetry Day today, and what better way to do it than to feature poems by a few of Kenya's most illustrious female poets?

You can't start a story about poetry without a bit of poetry.

 “Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” Plato.

The world marks World Poetry Day today, and what better way to do it than to feature poems by a few of Kenya's most illustrious female poets?

 

Alexis Teyie

Poetry is a nice meditative practice for emotional and mental hygiene, the way you shower every day!

I brush my teeth every day, so I read a poem every day, just to get out of the muck of the day and feel like I did something with my day.

Ideally, the point of days like this is to remind people that poetry is not the preserve of someone who wears sweaters and horn-rimmed glasses.

Alexis Teyie. PHOTO| COURTESY

Alexis Teyie. PHOTO| COURTESY

I was a little anxious about my new book, Clay Plates – Broken Records of Kiswahili Proverbs, because I was unwell at the time, and I had this awful feeling - what if this is the last book I ever make?

If I wasn't as unwell as I was, I wouldn't have been wild enough to write some of the more honest stuff that's in there, when I was being sincere with myself. Here goes:

 

AFTERSHOCKS

PATO LA MAHABA NI HABA, HABA

 

These are the aftershocks of love:

Nanananaaa. Wololo.

We, History and I, are a marimba.

Every time He hits me, the sighs make

a phlegmatic cobalt music.

 

Laura Ekumbo

Do you think that International Women's Day, which took place earlier this month actually makes a difference for women, particularly creative women?

This is a complicated question, because the point of IWD is that it is supposed to bring attention to women, not just plights and lack of rights but also their wonderfulness.

Laura Ekumbo. PHOTO| COURTESY

Laura Ekumbo. PHOTO| COURTESY

We should get to a point where we don't need to celebrate this day to get people to pay attention to us. I get numerous calls on this day to perform – why not other days?

The International Poetry Day is different. It highlights an art, a cause that outlives the day.  

 

temporary

 

i thought it could be mine -

all of it.

the night made dreaming seem like it would be okay

but where the stars are concerned, i am but a blink

in life

in dust

this is temporary;

i am only part.


Mwende Ngao

Q: Your poetry is around advocacy and Pan-Africanism. Why do you choose to write about these particular topics?

I want to say that it is done with focused intention but that wouldn't be completely true. I think it's what I am constantly being exposed to.

Mwende Ngao. PHOTO| COURTESY

Mwende Ngao. PHOTO| COURTESY

The conversations I have in the spaces I find myself in are about these topics, so these questions bleed into my writing. I am also a big believer in writers writing about the times they are living in.

We are living at a time when the voices of ordinary people are being amplified, thanks to online platforms and it's been interesting to explore what that means for advocacy and Pan-Africanism.

 

The African

 

You are a Christian until you want a second wife

And then you suddenly remember you’re an African man

You will not be denied

This is your culture

These are your traditions

Existing long before you knew who Adam and Eve were.

Who are you to overrule your ancestors?

These ancestors who you hardly know anything about?

But no matter, their blood runs through your veins

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