Kwaku Feni Adow, from Ghana, has two Haikus in the 2016 Babishai Haiku shortlist. He spends lots of time writing Haikus and his knowledge of the craft is admirable.

Courtesy photo



How do you define Haiku?

Haiku is that poetry which seeks to evoke nature in three (not always) brief/succinct lines, painting a picture with words where the poet is bound by the spirit of the art to show not tell. The poet is not as much allowed to intrude with his emotion or opinion. The best haiku have depth, many meanings that can be read into it when images are well juxtaposed.

What is the process of haiku writing like for you?

Writing haiku for me starts with an inspiration, a little moment of insight in finding something new in the ordinary. This mostly comes about from observation, childhood memories and from reading haiku, albeit the inspiration is only the beginning point. After writing down the words that present themselves in the moment, I let the poem lie and come back to it later, this time weighing and assessing how each word employed helps make the haiku better.

 Were you surprised at being shortlisted?

I must say that I was surprised especially that two of my poems got shortlisted.

Do you spend a lot of time reading Haiku, and from where?

I do spend a lot of time reading haiku. Besides the pleasure in reading haiku, part of the process of writing or learning the art is reading lots of it. My sources are online journals dedicated to publishing top-notch haiku, few examples would be Cattails, Heron’s Nest, Frogpond and Africa Haiku Network.

 Which African Haiku writers do you know and admire?

Thankfully, there are quite a number of African haiku poets I know. The likes of Celestine Nudanu and Barnabas Ìkéolúwa Adélékè. It’ll almost seem like a sin to not mention Adjei Agyei-Baah who to me is a haiku genius not just in Africa but in the world, evidenced of course by his numerous awards and publications in reputable journals. Again I know and admire the work of his fellow from Nigeria Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian. These two have had influence on me as far as my haiku journey is concerned.

Have you heard of the Mamba Journal, a publication of Haikus,
produced by the African Haiku Network, co-founded by one of our judges, Adjei Agyei-Baah?

I have indeed heard of the Mamba and I am happy to have five haiku of mine published in its premier issue.

How do you feel we should promote African haiku?

I believe haiku can be promoted through contests like this. Also, I believe a constant hosting and/or promoting the efforts and work of groups like Africa Haiku Network and any other Haiku Society anywhere in Africa  on this platform can expose the art to the numerous visitors.

Any parting remarks?

I would like to say thank you to Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation for taking this step to have the very first haiku contest in Africa for African haiku poets. This is the support the art truly needs and we are all appreciative of that. To the  other shortlisted poets, congrats.

Thank you Kwaku.

The #Babishai2016 Poetry festival runs from 24 -26 August in Kampala at Maria’s Place in Ntinda.


Blessmond Alebna Ayinbire, from Ghana, was shortlisted for the Babishai Haiku 2016 prize. He is evocative and imaginative, giving hilarious and thought-provoking insights into his Haiku journey.


How do you define haiku?
I define haiku as a play verse form of poetry devoid of poetic steroids, which captures a clear picture of a memorable moment in nature.

                What is the writing process of a haiku like?
Writing haiku is so thrilling that haiku has become my true love. It reveals to you, the world in a totally new and clearer picture as you drown into nature to capture it in words. Haiku is a cousin to photography. The subject strikes the writer, like it does the photographer. Then, you expose your writing pad or your brain and let your ink or feeling make a copy of the subject on it.

                    Were your surprised at being shortlisted?
[Smiles]  Yes I was surprised, although I was expecting it. One, because I sent three haiku and one had an obvious   spelling error. So I lost  hope. The second thing is, I have read a lot of Afriku (African haiku) and have seen the great talents African haijins have. So I didn’t believe that my experimental results would stand those written by people who have mastered the aesthetics of the art.

              Have you read the Mamba Journal, a Haiku publication of the African Haiku Network?
Yes I have. Mr Adjei Agyei-Baah’s Facebook page was where I first chanced on this treasure. Through Facebook, I found other sources like The Living Haiku Anthology, Haiku Society of America, Ghana Haiku Society, kukai (haiku contest)  results and the list goes on and on.

           Which African haiku writers do you admire?
It’s crystal clear I admire the most astute African haiku writer, Adjei Agyei-Baah. I love his Saijiki (season words). Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian, Celestine Nudanu and Ali Znaidi are also my favourites.

               Parting remarks?
The Babishaiku award is a bold step in the direction of promoting African haiku. Contests bring out talents and beckons the eyes of the world towards them. Also, forming national and regional haiku societies will help nurse talents in the art. In this age of technology, African haiku would just be a click away from anyone in any corner of the planet, if we breath life into it. I also want to congratulate my co-shortlistees and wish us all the best of luck. Also, I want use this opportunity to applaud the Babishai team and all African haiku writers for how far they have brought the art.

Thank you Blessmond.

The #Babishai2016 Poetry festival runs from 24th to 26th August in Kampala at Maria’s Place in Ntinda, near Victory City Church.