Friday, May 10, 2013

Lantern Meet of Poets give love theme interesting twist

When word went around, to announce what has become one of the most, if not the most popular poetry recital in town to have been scheduled on a love related theme dubbed ”Bittersweet” even those that are never moved by poetry got concerned. For wasn’t it Plato that said, ‘At the touch of love, everyone is a poet.” If we are to judge by the throngs that showed up at the National Theatre on Day 2 of the recital, then Perhaps Plato was right. I am quite certain not all those that turned up that Saturday are necessarily poetry lovers but where love is the humans gather.

Peculiarly, for those that came expecting a lovey-dovey night with poems romanticized and speaking so fondly of the intricacies of human affection, they were definitely caught off- guard. Most of the poems presented a satirical perspective to love and those that came close to qualifying as lovey- dovey like Pretty Pretty Kikazi (Perfomed by Aaron Kiiza) were delivered with such dramatic vigor that the drama completely concealed the lovey- dovey(ness).  Others that came close were performed before response poems that added satirical effect and stole the “sweet” emotions from such poems. The effect overall was intense but we did not come out of the auditorium like we had been in a romantic movie night. On the contrary we came out laughing, perhaps laughing at our own follies and how vulnerable we can be when we chose to love. Thanks to Ann Linda, the poet who authored most of the poems that were recited.

Though the recital had enough breath to cover the love theme satisfactorily, the tilt of the entire event was “unfairly” bent to the end of the skeptics of love. The recital dwelt more on the “bitter” than the “sweet” side of love. Some of the “bitter” themes explored included betrayal and vulnerability in love.

Jason Ntaro’s performance of Anniversary which is story of a Husband whose wife cheats on him on the night of his marriage anniversary was spot on in substantiating on the theme of betrayal. The poem was delivered with humour and tenacity and though we could still empathize with the husband betrayed, we could not help but laugh as he narrated the sad story of the wife’s treachery in the setting of the bar where in a seemingly escapist fashion he was cooling off his anger by ordering a few shots from a maid to whom he was narrating the unfortunate incident. 


In love we have to admit we get to points of helpless vulnerability and we have to admit some of those points are quite a test to get over. Desire was the poem that best illustrated how vulnerable we can be when in love. In this poem a desperate young lady boasts before her man of how much he needs her but there is an interesting twist when she falls from boasting to pleading with her lover to give him attention. “I need you to need me” the desperate girl pleads with her man and the dancer who performs the next poem calling on the lady to dance with him does not make matters any better when he lures the lady on, asking her to “come and dance” with him. Yet just when the lady gives in, he drops his interest. 

The ironies of falling in love with our best of friends are depicted quite impressively by a poem Solomon Manzi recites. He expresses how he fears to reveal to his friend how much he loves her beyond the usual platonic friendship they share but ironically the girl come singing praises for the boy. Thus when Solomon regrets and wonders in a Beaten Heart "Fear is what I feel/ fear of not being the one you could love" Irene Mutuzo responds in Where Have you been by making a profound confession "Often,/ When I look at you,/ at your expressively shadowed face,/ I wonder where you have been..."

Biitersweet goes on to bring the theme closer to the hearts of men when nature is adopted to illustrate an independent woman who lives in constant “fear” of being tamed. In One Day I will also be tamed performed by Juliet Kaboneire and Sandra Muhukku a girl who is yet to find a suitor or rather an animal that has not been tamed speaks of her freedom before being tamed with joyous abandon and dreads the time when she will be tamed just like other women or animals. She speaks of how she will kick and scratch for freedom but all in vain and how a time will come when she no longer has the grasslands to herself to roam wherever she feels like.

Besides we cannot speak of love and ignore the pain of those that have hurt us, those that we loved and they never cared to love us back. In Damned Patrick Massa laments of how hopeless it is to love because of the pain it has caused him and yet in Come to Me which is a response to his poem, a caring lady attempts to win him back back when he tells him of how she saw it coming, of how she saw him amazed by the colours the other girl brought into his life, yet she knew it would all end up in tears and regret. However she promises her more fulfilling love when she tells him that she knows his heart has been torn to pieces and shreds and she still insists that the man should trust her enough to give her the remaining pieces and shreds of his heart for her to take care. She is interested in the pieces.  

There are other poems that were performed and should not escape mention just because they cannot necessarily be compartmentalized. For example Ouch a poem Laura Byaruhanga performs in which a man steps on woman’s toe and tries to pull moves on the woman comes off as bitterly humorous. She retorts by reminding him of the pain she has caused her by stepping on her toe and she is not ready to listen to anything the man intends to say as long as she has a hurting toe to attend to.

The Philosophy on Love which Judith articulates gives an interesting perspective on how much we need love despite some of our disdainful attitudes towards it and the fact that the power that holds the world together is love.

And the preacher (Solomon Manzi) or was he a poet pulls our legs in Dating (a derivative work of Charles Warnke’s essay “You should date an illiterate girl”) when he advises men not to date women that read. One of the reasons the poet turned preacher on stage gives for his assertions is that women that read can express their irritation or insult us with such definite exactitude, using the right diction and metaphors when we upset them.  By the end of his tirade, most of what he preaches sounds ridiculous and silly and yet men are almost converted by his “touching surmon.”

Another impressive poem Moses Laku attacks today’s capitalist tendencies of love when he discourages his love from keeping her eyes on his material worth other than his genuine affection for her. 

He tells her of how he is only a man who cannot give her the whole world but who is willing to make one with her. 

Amidst the engaging verses is interesting stuff with Bosco the young Nomad and Moroots giving us soothing tunes as though to console us after some of our misfortunes of love that the poems have reminded us about.

Nonetheless, nothing would have ended the recital on a more exciting note than the “Stringman” (Daniel Mutembesa) who with his sexual innuendo is representative of that buffoonish character in some of those movies that seeks to lure women with a comically lose tongue and his naughty strum of the guitar.  

related articles 

 Lantern Meet Recital: Bittersweet

A bitter sweet night of reciting poetry

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