Poetry students make the most of metaphors

What you need to know:

  • Book title: Rhymers,Metaphors and I: The Best in Verse in Vac Poetry 2014-2020
  • Authors: Associated poets from several schools
  • Price: Shs40,000
  • Where: Uganda Museum Library

This book is divided into five parts embracive of each school vacation from schools ranging from Nabisunsa Girls’

Secondary School to King’s College Budo, through the years of 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

It is structured around a prologue, preamble, monologues and an epilogue. Through this, it never proclaims its tigritude. Instead, it pounces: “Invisible Remorse” by Tracey Ahumuza A.K.A ‘Nkubito’, 2016 S6 Vac, King’s College, Budo: “I reach out to hold you But you cringe and shrink 

Away from me
Away from us
And I think that’s when
I repeat ‘To fade’
‘To fade’ –not because I’m paid
‘To fade’ –because I was made...”

The pattern of rhythm and sound of the words is enhanced, line on line, by enjambment as feelings spill while carrying the run of the poet’s expressiveness from one line to the next without a syntactical break.

Enjambment, by the by, is the poetic equivalent of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s step over as it actually means “steps over” or “runs over”— the continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, couplet, or stanza.

The subtext of these feelings is tragic: To fade is what every artist fears. Indeed, the late American musician Kurt Cobain’s suicide note contained the teary words, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” Cobain shot himself dead at the age of 27 on April 5, 1994.

On a cheerier note, we don’t have much ABC poetry in Uganda. However you may find it partly (and brilliantly) deployed in the poem “I love like i hate you” by Titus Nsubuga, 2019 S4 Vac, St. Denis Ssebugwawo, Ggaba.

Each line of Nsubuga’s work here builds upon the central topic of the poem to crescendo with a bang. “Life” by Rushongoza Begumya, 2015 S6 Vac, Mengo S.S.S, is an insightful piece.

Written in straightforward language, without the frills which come with fancy wording, it is expressed by two stanzas, the first introduction of the whole: 

“Life is an exam  

An exam written on white paper

With questions written in black
“This exam is sat for in a big, endless room
With many candidates
Some pray
Others bite nails
Others sleep,
Only to wake up when the start bell

It has shades of what Shakespeare said when he wrote,

“Life... is a tale.

Told by an idiot,

full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

For an exam signifies that you pass or fail as a means to achieving the sound and fury of success, in a strictly formal sense, only to later question the very notion of success.

At any rate, the poet self-consciously reconciles the tension of form in his free verse to ensure that “each line corresponds exactly to one single breath unit.” Which also applies to the poem, “There’s a goat’s head between my legs” by Bridget Ankunda, 2019 S.6 Vac, Mt. St. Mary’s College, Namagunga.

The pattern stresses on syllables in each line is breathless in its virtuosic intensity.

‘’Yamawe!!!!!’’ I screamed,
“There’s a goat’s head between my legs!
An animal has taken up residence within
Without my permission!”
The man on my left was disgusted
And cursed all millennials and their sickening theatrics.
Kati lwaki otuwogganira?
It’s just a goat’s head.
Ignore it.
It will go away.”

The poem is riveting. The “goat” is an elusive metaphor which adds to the poem’s curiosity value.

Speaking of metaphors, Bridget Ankunda has another poem entitled: “Rooms and the dust in them.” It’s an exceedingly clever, subtly nationalistic poem.

“Someone tell Susan Kiguli
She is not the only one who is tired of talking
In metaphors….”

As the last poem, it leaves the reader longing for more. Artistically, “Rhymers, Metaphors and I: The Best in Verse in Vac Poetry 2014-2020” is one of the most engaging anthologies I have read in a very long time. Each poem is special for the way it singularly seems to roll off your tongue.

Poet Byron Aaron Alinda, 2018 S6 Vac, St. Mary’s College, Kisubi, underscores this fact in his poem, “Shithole Country”:

“A wise man said if every Ugandan swept outside his gate

We would make it to billboard,

Don’t bring your cloud to rain on our parade.

All you need is faith the size of the mustard seed to grow high.”

In the words of American rapper Jay-Z, can I get an Encore?