There is something about watching poets in session, hearing their cadences and tone, the passion as words slip off their tongues, and watching their facial expressions that combine to make one appreciate the truly compelling power of poetry.
It was thus easy to see, on Monday 19, why the Uganda Female Writers Association (Femrite) chose to crown the year by treating members of its Readers and Writers Club to a literary interaction caked with poetry fascinating recitals.
The Femrite Readers Club meets every Monday, and on the last Monday of the month, an established writer dubbed “author of the month” is invited to share his/her writing experiences and field questions from the club members.
Last Monday, the honour of author-of-the-month fell on Mildred Kiconco Barya, a UK-based Ugandan author, who is acclaimed for her two poetry anthologies: Men Love Chocolates But They Don’t Say (2002) and The Price of Memory: After the Tsunami (2006). In 2008, she won the Pan African Literary Forum Prize for African Fiction.
The floor opened with members discussing a poem by the inaugural BN Poetry Award winner, Lillian Aujo. Her poem, Changes, is about people’s desire and equal fear for change, set the perfect mood before the guest of the night took the microphone.
Kiconco, 35, was wearing a pink top and a black mini-skirt that served to accentuate her small physical stature. You could see the joy in her eyes and hear the pride in her voice as she divulged that she actually coordinated the first Femrite Readers Club back in 1998.
“It gives me the pleasure that the passion is still here,” she said with gratification, and went on to ooze writing wisdom, telling her eager audience that writing is like a marriage that you cannot just jump in and out of: “You commit for life and keep working on it.”
The true writer, she advised, strives to create a signature style for which he or she will be remembered; a personal style that cannot be replicated by other writers. Even though writing can be labourious sometimes, she admitted there is a feeling of being liberated, knowing you are doing something you so love; something special; something for a chosen few.
It was soon the time everyone had been waiting; a time for the dread-locked author to recite some of her acclaimed poems. She did three poems; old and new, but the most outstanding was Sipi, in which she describes Sipi falls as “beautiful, harsh, ferocious” and adding cheekily that Sipi River must have been hewn out of the famous Mississippi River. It is a powerful poem, especially in its use of rhythm, and depiction of Uganda’s physical attractiveness.
Kiconco’s latest anthology, Give Me Room to Move My Feet, was launched in Kampala on Tuesday.