On Friday 21 August, Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, at the invitation of The US Embassy in Kampala, ran a one hour creative writing and storytelling workshop. There was a tremendous amount of learning; from defeating writers’ block, to starting by answering the fundamental question of why you want to write, and this continued to understanding how to identify the most credible character to define the story. Below is the video link, complete with Beverley’s children, crying in the background, for good measure.
I’m Akello Charlotte. A student at Makerere University, a Ugandan writer and poet. I first got ‘serious’ with writing poetry while at Nabisunsa girls and since then I’ve never looked back. Otherwise, I’ve been a writer since childhood.
I write to take the weight off my chest, to me, writing is like breathing exercises. It takes writing to calm me when I’m in distress. Above all, writing comes to me so naturally that I feel clogged when I don’t write for a few weeks. I also think poetry is beautiful.
I submitted for the Babishai haiku award 2017 and I was shortlisted so I gained some following. Many friends asked me to help them with the ‘trick’ of the haiku. I taught so many people the basics of haiku in the process. I didn’t want to submit this year since most of my students were interested, but most of them encouraged me to. I chose my best from the haikus I’d written, hoping that this time, maybe I will win.
What was your process in writing this particular haiku below?
parting soil in the night
to die out soon
One thing I didn’t want to do was to be inclined to the rules of the haiku(5/7/5 syllable count). I wanted to be free and free I was. I drew my inspiration from mushrooms, I love mushrooms but they come overnight and wither the next day.
In your opinion, what is the future of African haiku?
There’s so much poetry in Africa as a whole. The late buses, the bleating animals, the shameless acts of corruption, the trees that look like humans in the night. The haiku in particular, a special poem, is allover. I believe we can use the haiku to capture images that cameras can’t. However, many young poets think the haiku is too complex and believe they can’t write it but what I’ve learnt during haiku lessons I teach, once one masters the haiku, it’s very easy.
How are we able to share about this haiku experience, with Uganda,
and the world?
I think we just need to write more, and promote the haiku more, like this kind of competition is a good start. If someone sees a haiku, they will be inclined to see more haikus in places they go.