ADIPO SIDANG FROM KENYA; AUTHOR, POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND MORE

ADIPO SIDANG FROM KENYA; AUTHOR, POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND MORE

First, really excited about making it to the long-list. I’m an award-winning author, poet, playwright, culture exponent and governance consultant. I’ve got two books to my name – a collection of poems titled Parliament of Owls published by Native Intelligence under the Contact Zone Series with Goethe Institut (2016), and the 2017 Burt Award winning novella “A Boy Named Koko” published by Longhorn Publishers (2017).

I write for fun, for money, but I also write to cause fury and make us angry with ourselves and the world around us, so that we can change it. Writing is my form of advocacy. I tend to see myself as a gadfly that goads the steed of society out of slumber (to quote Socrates). I think that’s what every artist should consider themselves to be, or should at least strive to become.

 

Why were you inclined to submit for the #Babishai2020 haiku award?

I love haikus – the form, the invisible force that lingers on despite the brevity of haikus. It’s a way of saying poetry can be short and sweet without necessarily being caged in rhyme.

 

What was your process in writing this particular haiku below?

ringed with its papers
and tracked like jailbird on bail
the immigrant lands…

I don’t really think about this poetry like that; but I can say my process was chaos, anarchy, mental stampede, ideas colliding, moments of silence, questioning, doubts, literary pangs of pain, and the birth of a 5-7-5 haiku; all in under 3 minutes. I remember writing the third line first and the poem fell in place, in reverse. The poem was triggered by the arrival of a migratory Osprey bird in Kenya that flew over 6,000 kilometers from Finland. The interesting thing is that it had a reference ring on its leg; and it got me thinking about the fate of migratory birds, and that of immigrants, what freedom to them looks beyond the borders that chain them, and the illusion of freedom. The bird died a few days later.

 

In your opinion, what is the future of African haiku?

 

Well, hard to tell but it definitely looks promising; poetry in general is increasingly becoming more appreciated in Africa and the world. For a long time, poetry has been confined to the lowest rung of the literary ladder. It’s changing – shrubs are becoming trees, and trees – a forest; and haikus are somewhere in this fecund literary forest.

 

How are we able to share about this haiku experience, with Kenya, and the world?

The BN experience? It’s been great. Well, I’ve never been long-listed for writing a three line 17 syllable poem; if it happens – like in this case, it means there is some truth that won’t go away, that makes a reader question or wonder. Besides that, being long listed alongside other poets means there is something that is both common to us and to the literary community. I cherish this experience because you hardly come by it; I mean poetry awards in this part of the world are few, not to mention poetry awards for haikus.

 

 

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AHMAD HOLDERNESS FROM NIGERIA; POET, FATHER, AND DOCTOR

AHMAD HOLDERNESS FROM NIGERIA; POET, DOCTOR, AND FATHER

I am a medical doctor, a husband and a father amongst other things. I write long-form and short-form poems (haiku) and some of my haiku can be found in journals such as on Frogpond, Chrysanthemum, The Mamba, Creatrix, Acorn, and Haiku Presence. Also, I was shortlisted for this award in 2017 Haiku Awards and have some works in Africa Meets Vienna Afriku Anthologies. I nurture a dream to prescribe my poems as pills and this influences my writing. Beyond this influence, I write mainly because writing is a gateway to all the identities I have become. I am a man and in addition to how I have described myself earlier, I am a Muslim, an African, and many other subtle identities that must find balance within the package I consider as myself. As you can perceive, I am trying to simplify myself, thus it can be said that I am a complex man who writes to simplify himself.

Why were you inclined to submit for the #Babishai2020 haiku award?

I was inclined to submit for this award because I was certain that it would be competitive. For the past few years, Babishai has been a platform that has greatly contributed to showcasing the talents of African poets, especially in the Haiku genre and I am proud to be associated with this progress.

What was your process in writing this particular haiku below?

bitter kola
grandpa breaks into
a new tale

As simple as this haiku looks, it packs a punch. I started writing it in my mind, drawing from the sights of what I see the African society becoming. The elders in African culture are considered wise men and the tales they tell are known to guide/admonish the youngsters about the moral codes as well as the needs of the African society. The process of writing this haiku evolved just as the reality of the evolving cultures around me. So, what came to me first was a common retort I use when I am slightly surprised and unprepared for something and I simply utter; snap. Next, I asked myself what snaps? The first picture that came to my head was the error message you get when you can’t access a webpage. I played around this idea and this launched my mind to search for deeper meanings from exploring my thoughts and my experience and I think I came up with my first draft when I had a cough/cold and recalled how orogbo (bitter-kola) was considered a good remedy for it and how it snaps into two when you break it. This moment was the key element in writing this haiku as it juxtaposed all my memories/experience relating to the key elements of the haiku, so I took out my phone and typed my thoughts in the Notes app.

Once the draft was written, I revisited it every night; I do this usually with all the other poems in my notes app and review and amend them accordingly. Once I made a mental note that the poem has reached the state of perfection of what I needed it to express, about metamorphosis, I just knew I would be submitting the poem for the Babishaiku Haiku awards. I finished writing the poem perhaps six months before the call for submission for the Babashaiku awards. To describe the process in one word, I would say it was empirical.

 

In your opinion, what is the future of African haiku?

Permit me to unsheathe a philosophical response to this question;

When is a door not a door?

The answer to this riddle and the riddle itself is how I see the future of African Haiku. While some may consider growth as linear, I tend to see it as cyclical. What is clear is that what many perceive to be walls or barriers to their growth are actually doors. Once an African poet realizes this, the door is no longer a door and the influx of talents into what is behind the door (the future) is an exciting adventure that promises if not guarantees excellence. In other words, the future of African Haiku depends on those who realize the potential use of Haiku, the brevity it offers, the emotion it packs and moment in time it captures as a form of portal into a multiverse that documents and celebrates the African tradition and its people in a form that is elegant and reminiscent of the hopes of our forefathers.

  How are we able to share about this haiku experience, with Nigeria, and the world?  

The easiest way to share this experience is to gift it. The foundation has done well by positioning itself as a platform that identifies talents and sharing this haiku experience can be done through haiku workshops and also by supporting/creating journals where Nigerians and the world at large can explore this unique art. There still a long way to go but it is very exciting and creating a viable network of artisans and administrators for this purpose will surely reap immense benefits. We need to design and enrich a museum where these works can be appreciated.