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TALKING BOOKS WITH NNANDA: 5 questions to Nnanda Kizito Sseruwagi' on the poetry book FOR MY NEGATIVITY

QN1: Nnanda, you watched the poetry show FOR MY NEGATIVITY and now you have also read the poetry book. What are your impressions on the poems on stage and the poems in print?

A: First of all, anyone who watched that show would tell you that it was a thrill. It was not a show that would allow you to attend to your phone or sit comfortably in your seat. It was a show that kept you glued to the stage, sitted on the edge of your seat. You wouldn’t tell the show is at the start, the middle, or at the end. Now, that’s the book. It’s simply a book you can’t put down. And you can’t tell if you’re at its start or its end. It’s a book you read entirely the moment you lay hands on it. And between it, you can only see the energy, the enthusiasm that has come to be a part of Kagayi on stage and in person. That book is alive. That book is a show.

QN2: FOR MY NEGATIVITY is a collection of just 7 poems. Is this okay with you, why?

A: I think the number of poems in the collection is not substantial to its profundity. In fact, since it was a staged book, it wouldn’t do it justice to give it many more poems that weren’t staged. So its form is secondary to the substance it holds. Poetry is the most condensed form of literature, now, how about a condensed collection of poems? I don’t see anything not better than that.

QN3: Stylistically, what stands out for you in FOR MY NEGATIVITY?

A: I think what makes the collection so attractive to me is the fact that the persona speaks in first person. It’s like Kagayi is standing before you, addressing you throughout the book. He says, ‘I am sorry, for how I feel about my country, I am sorry for my negativity.’ It’s him there in the book, page after page, having a conversation with you. That style does me well. It keeps me company.

QN4: Is the book FOR MY NEGATIVITY relevant to our society today and why?

A: It’s very relevant because who doesn’t feel sorry about the state of our society? But also, and most importantly, we have hope for its transformation for the better. It’s the whole point of the collection, a sad poet preaching hope, and keeping his society in check.

QN5: what are your favourite lines from the poems?

A: “Now I understand/why the Bachwezi/were silent and wise/to leave this land/and prefer to die/ elsewhere than here. “Those lines for me summarise what the title on negativity says! Then also, the lines that turn my tongue and make me reflect every time I come across them are: “But before I am taxed for my apology,/ before you make me swear, this land belongs to Queen Elizabeth,/ For God to save my forsaken country.”

[Copies for the book ‘FOR MY NEGATIVITY’ are available for Ug Shs. 10,000 at;-FEMRITE offices, Kiira Road,-OASIS BOOK PROJECT BOOKSHOP, Uganda House, Kampala Road, and;The National Theatre Box Office, Dewinton Road.]

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Written by Kitara Nation (0)

Kitara Nation is an arts company promoting poetry in secondary schools and higher institutions of learning. We are a vibrant learning space for poets to express themselves.

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