Archive for December, 2013

Merry Christmas and Thank You

Posted: December 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

Thank you to everyone who has taken a minute or two, anytime in this year to visit this blog, like a post, share a post, leave a comment or follow the blog. You guys are the reason why regardless of how merciless time can get with me sometimes, I keep posting the beautiful, beautiful poetry we’ve all come to love from our African greats. Next year, we will probably diversify here a bit more and include more poetry from African Arabia, and then I hope I read more of your blogs too. I can do better on that :)

Spend time with family and loved ones and take a minute to reflect on the year. We shall review more interesting poetry when the New Year comes. Maybe you can write a poem and share it with us here. I’ll be glad to post a couple written by followers of this blog.

Merry Christmas. Enjoy the holidays, write those poems and keep reading African poetry. :)

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Before I went on air - Pic Cred: @WritersPG

Before I went on air – Pic Cred: @WritersPG

On Sunday, I was on air on Citi FM 97.3 in Ghana (also online at citifmonline.com) reading a couple of poems on their Writers Project Program. I shared the studio with Mary Ashun, a Ghanaian/Canadian writer whose books are currently in good demand. Her books include Tuesday’s child and Mistress of the Game. You will be glad to have been among the first to know her before she has become a global household name. Check her website here. In the studio, she read an excerpt from her most recent book ‘Serwa Akoto’s Diary‘ and it was all sorts of amazing. Caller after caller kept asking where and how they could get a copy of the book. It is here on Amazon. Thankfully, she has sent me a pdf copy of the book and has given permission to share it with as many of you as want it. If anyone does, kindly contact me at delalorm(dot)kpeli(at)kasahorow(dot)com. Alternatively, comment on this post (I will see your email address on the back-end; it will not show on the blog) and I will be more than happy to share this book with you. It is a fast and exciting read.

I will post one poem I read at the studio and I hope you like it.  Thanks to all who listened, called in, messaged in and gave feedback on twitter, facebook and whatsapp. The poem is titled “New Hearts Grow.”

New Hearts Grow

The morning you left home
You left your heart on the dining table.
I called out after you, tried to run after the taxi that drove you away
To give your heart back.
But I was too late.
So I took it in and opened it up.
And peeped.

If it was mine, I would have left it too.
The walls, plastered over with broken promises
Bleached dreams competing for shine with blisters.
I saw the spot where he ran away from you
Many places, where pieces of heart resented the glue
The lesions, graffiti of infidelity
There was the day they took your innocence
You were still fourteen.
I shut the theater of your insides.

I tried again to return your heart
Praying all the while, it will never reach you
For the chance that you will feel none of this anymore
For the chance that where you were going, you would not have to need it.
For the chance that where you were going, new hearts grow.

Nelson Mandela: Pic. cred: Guardian Las vegas

Nelson Mandela: Pic. cred: Guardian Las vegas

The world has lost an icon with the news of the passing of Nelson Mandela yesterday. We can’t begin to find the words to say all he stood for in the history of humanity that can go so crooked at times. Mandela was hope where it was hopeless and light where it was dark. If he had not lived in that era of South Africa’s life, the country may never have been the country it is now.

In the cell opposite Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island, was our poet friend Dennis Brutus, who wrote It is The Constant Image of Your face and A troubadour I traverse, all reviewed previously on this blog. Both of them were partners against apartheid, working in the quarry together, cracking stones and being tortured. It is fitting we honour the memory of Mandela today with poetry that was written by a man who knew him first hand. Dennis Brutus wrote this poem after Mandela was released from prison and was on his way to finally assume presidency of South Africa, unify a nation standing at a point of indecision on its future and teach humanity a lesson on forgiveness.

Here is Dennis Brutus’ tribute,

For Nelson Mandela

Yes, Mandela, some of us
we admit embarrassedly
wept to see you step free
so erectly, so elegantly
shrug off the prisoned years
a blanket cobwebbed of pain and grime;
behind, the island’s seasand,
harsh, white and treacherous
ahead, jagged rocks
bladed crevices of racism and deceit
in the salt island air
you swung your hammer grimly stoic
facing the dim path of interminable years,
now, vision blurred with tears
we see you step out to our salutes
bearing our burden of hopes and fears
and impress your radiance
on the grey morning air

 

My name is Dela. Even before I was old enough to know anything about this world, my cousins called me Man-Dela, in tribute to the greatness of a man whose life touched everyone who believes in the greater humanity, irrespective of country. I bid him peaceful rest. We will tell our children this, that we lived in the time of Nelson Mandela.

Ahmed Fouad Negm - Pic Cred: Relais

Ahmed Fouad Negm – Pic Cred: Relais

One of Egypt’s most-loved and greatest poets has passed away today at the age of 84. Ahmed Fouad Negm (pronounced Negum) was a satirical poet who spent his life trolling government after Egyptian government for what he called ‘submerging Egypt under lies’.  He was also known as the ‘poet of the people‘, because his views and poetry were popular with the masses and very unpopular with the elite. He served jail time under Egypt’s former pharaohs Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat.

Negm was a writer in ‘Arabic vernacular’ and his works were infused with cadence that may be lost in translation to English or any other language. His works were powerful and did not mask his fury in their satire. A typical street urchin who got jailed for forging documents, he knew first-hand the suffering that marked his writing. One tweet said his loss for Egypt is of Pablo Neruda proportions.

Prior to his death, he was due to travel to be awarded the 2013 Prince Claus Award. The prize website says Negm was to be:

“honoured for creating true poetry in vernacular Arabic that communicates deeply with people; for his independence, unwavering integrity, courage and rigorous commitment to the struggle for freedom and justice; for speaking truth to power, refusing to be silenced and inspiring more than three generations in the Arab-speaking world; for the aesthetic and political force of his work highlighting the basic need for culture and humour in harsh and difficult circumstances; and for his significant impact on Arabic poetry bringing recognition to the rich literary potential of the colloquial language.”

I am working on permission to review one of his translated poems next on the blog and when I do, you will see the brilliance of his poem titled ‘What’s Wrong With the President?’ Arab African poetry is powerful, if only we had enough translations.

Fare thee well, Ahmed Fouad Negm.