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POINT OF CORRECTION, MADAM SPEAKER: A POETRY COLLECTION IS NOT A POETRY ANTHOLOGY!

For many years Ugandan poetry critics have shaped our thoughts, attitudes and tastes towards either the poetry book, the poem, the poetry performance or the poet.

They have also influenced our preferences of even the language we use to express about this art.

For some reason I used to think the terms ‘poetry collection’ and ‘poetry anthology’ meant the same thing. I carried this misnomer with me from High School into my formative years of creative writing.

By 2010, I had spent 2 years poeming on the Kampala streets. I was feeling like a (poetry) bomb.

It took the kindness of a friend, fellow writer and my literary senior Beatrice Lamwaka for me to learn the difference.

One evening after a fevered debate about publishing poetry in Uganda, Lamwaka texted me after I had reached home and explained how I was embarrassing myself every time I uttered the words poetry ‘anthology’ when what I actually was talking about was called a poetry ‘collection’.

From the day I learnt there was a difference between them, I dug for deeper understanding of their aesthetic differences and have until now laboured to explain to my students and colleagues the same ever since.

However of recent, the mainstream media poetry critics seem to have adopted the phrase ‘poetry anthology‘ while in most cases they are talking about a ‘poetry collection‘.

For the most recent times, Ugandan poetry (growing outside the academy circles) has nurtured its own eco-system of life-support, which also includes seasoned critics.

Of these “mass media poetry critiques“ I would like to point out the works of 2; Journalist, blogger and critic Aliker Pa Ocitti.

The other, and perhaps even more prolific than Aliker. is Mr. Philip Matogo.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but no other Ugandan critic since 2010 has reviewed more Ugandan poetry books in Ugandan newspapers and online platforms than the ridiculously prolific Mr. Matogo.

However, if you were to combine the workings of the 2, one would compile a critical canon of the 21st-century Ugandan poetry book.

Which is why it is puzzling how these 2 wonderful critics religiously persist to misname ‘poetry collections‘ as ‘poetry anthologies.‘

In the image below of an article recently written by Aliker and published in the local newspaper The New Vision, the error is in ‘the headline that morning.‘

There are dangers of calling things names that don’t belong to them. The mischaracterisation of the text leads to misinterpretation, which in turn leads to misuse- of poetry!

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Written by Kagayi Ngobi (2)

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