Saturday, May 28, 2011

From the war drums of Sierra Leone comes an award winning “Memory of Love”

Animatta Forna's first book
Aminatta Forna was born in Glasgow and raised in West Africa or to be precise in Sierra Leone, a country whose pathetic history provided the needed inspiration on which Aminatta depended to publish her award winning book “The memory of love.”

The Memory of love won the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize 2011 in the category of the Best Book.

The judges praised The Memory of Love for its risk taking, elegance and breadth.

“It is a poignant story about friendship, betrayal, obsession and second chances and an immensely powerful portrayal of human resilience.” The judges said in praise of the book.

 “The Memory of Love delicately delves into the courageous lives of those haunted by the indelible effects of Sierra Leone’s past and yet amid that loss gives us a sense of hope and optimism for their future.”

Yet that is not just the only Award Winning book that has been written by the triumphant writer from Sierra Leone. Her first book, The Devil that Danced on the Water, was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003.

the picture of Animmatta Forna
Her novel Ancestor Stones was winner of the 2008 Hurston Wright Legacy Award, the Literaturpreis in Germany, was nominated for the International IMPAC Award and selected by the Washington Post as one of the most important books of 2006. In 2007 Vanity Fair named Aminatta as one of Africa’s most promising new writers.  

Aminatta who leaves in London with her husband has written for magazines and newspapers, radio and television, and presented television documentaries on Africa’s history and art.

The other winner in the competition was Craig Cliff in the category of the Best First Book: A Man Melting
Craig Cliff, a government worker, was born in Palmerston North, New Zealand in 1983. Cliff is a graduate of Victoria University’s MA in creative writing and his short stories and poetry have been published in New Zealand and Australia. His short story 'Another Language' won the novice section ofthe 2007 BNZ Katherine Mansfield Awards.
In Another Language Cliff explores a young narrator’s connection to his Serbian grandfather, his friendship with a Maori boy and the act of stuttering.
His first published collection of short stories, A Man Melting, gathers together his prize-winning and published short stories, as well as some new works. These 18 stories examine all of the big questions of life - birth, infancy, adolescence, violence, parenthood and death.
The judges chose this highly entertaining and thought provoking collection of short stories for their ambition, creativity and craftsmanship.
“Confidently blending ideas that frequently weave outlandish concepts with everyday incidents, the prose is skillfully peppered with social observations that define the world we live in.” The judges extolled the collection.
“The eighteen short stories are truly insightful and amplify many of the absurdities around us, reflecting our own expectations, fears and paranoia on the big questions in life.”
“This book is of the moment, and is rightly at home on a global platform. Cliff is a talent to watch and set to take the literary world by storm.”
The characters in these stories look for ways to reconnect with people and the world around them whilst Cliff examines complex issues such as alienation and belonging.
The winners of the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize were announced in Sydney in an exciting climax to this year's final programme on 21st May 2011.
For the last 25 years the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize has played a key role in unearthing new international literary names, bringing compelling stories of human experience to a wider audience.
As highly acclaimed international authors Aminatta Forna and Craig Cliff will follow in the footsteps of some of the biggest names in modern fiction in winning the Prize, including Louis De Bernieres, Andrea Levy, Ian McEwan, and Zadie Smith. 
For the fifth consecutive year the Macquarie Group Foundation, one of Australia’s leading philanthropic foundations, is helping to advance one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world. With Macquarie’s support the prize has grown to reach more people around the world, encouraging wider reading across a range of Commonwealth cultures and rewarding the rising talent that other prizes often overlook.

Related stories on the Commonwealth Writers Prize

Sierra Leone Story wins Commonwealth Writers Prize

Is the Commonwealth Writers Prize biased?

Friday, May 27, 2011

A night of words, heartbeat and neon lights with the Lantern Meet of Poets

It will be a night of "Words, Heartbeats and Neon Lights" when the the Lantern Meet of Poets hold their fifth Grand Recital on Friday June 10th and Saturday June 11th 2011.

The Lantern Meet of Poets one of Uganda's leading group of poets will treat attendees of the recital to over three hours of poetic verses that are written by various writers that belong to the group. The recitals will run from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the National Theatre.

Tickets will go for 10 thousand shillings for adults while the students will be required to part with only 5 thousand shillings to attend the show.

The Lantern Meet of Poets started around 2007 when a group of students from Makerere University that were passinonate about poetry decided to come together and form a group that would meet and critic one another's poem.

Lantern Meet of Poets later managed to convince the managemenet of the National Theatre to allow them have bi weekly meetings at the National Theatre for criticing one another's poem on Sunday afternoons from 3:00pm to 6:00pm which culture, they have maintained up to date.

Members always take their pieces to the meetings. The pieces are required to be typed and without the poet's name.

So when poets take their poems to the meeet, the moderator of the meet who is chosen randomly for a particular meet collects all the written pieces. The pieces are then redistributed randomly amongst the memmbers which rules out, to a great extent, the possibility of redistributing to poets their own poems.

Afterwards each and every one that gets a poem will then read the poem and give his or her opinion on the subject matter, style, languange and punctuation of the given poem before other members come in to critic the poem.

Upon satisfactory criticing of the poem, the moderator asks the poet of the piece to come out and give a word or two about the piece. After that, the moderator writes the name of the poet on the piece which is then kept in the archives of the group.

Over the years the Lantern Meet of Poets that was founded by members like Guy Mambo, Edgar Kangere, Jason Ntaro, Kagayi Peter and Ojakol Omerio among others has been growing in number spreading its wings further to harness more talent in the writing of poetry.
The group has been central to the narturing of the writing talent as some writers in the group have gone on to scoop various writing awards in the country and can comfortably attribute their growth as writers to the Lantern Meet of Poets.

The group that boasts of over 50 members most of whom are university students is in the process of publishing its first anthology.

Read more about the Lantern Meet of Poets and their previous recitals

Lantern Meet of Poets a Harbinger of High Culture

Student poetry brings National Theatre to Life

Let the poet come out

Lantern Meet something or other

Map showing location of the Uganda National Theatre

View National Theatre in a larger map

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The clash of wishes

If you read newspapers and if all all newspapers around the world are similar to the Ugandan newspapers like the New Vision, then I am sure you have come across articles that have headlines like "Ten things women wish men knew" or "Ten things men wish women knew."

Such articles will then go on to list a barrage of hypothetical wishes of men or women. It is just amazing that women claim that they have never understood how the men function and so do men. But then you keep hearing people getting married, men and women, and you will keep wondering how all this happens despite the purpoted differences between the two sexes.

That is why fools like I have seized reading such articles because they just seem like a bunch of fantasies, by either of the sexes that will never be really satisfied. What matters to me most is to get that daughter of Eve that will really undesrtand my bufoonish stunts and my adamic antics. Similarly I will also try to appreciate her attributes that are supposedly due to the fact that she is a descendant of our grandma Eve. Then, I will place that ring on her finger such that we can seal of this deal or memorundum of undertanding. We shall then leave happily there after and with no need of reading such silly newspaper articles.

This looks like mere fantasy. Right? Yes it is indeed fantasy because there is nothing as sweet to a fool like I as the idea of writing fantasies. There is a way they teleport me from this problematic world and take me to that perfect world where every thing is perfect including the idea of falling in love. The only problem is that that world only exists in my mind and nowhere else on this planet.

By Tiberindwa Zakaria