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Alex Smith

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Hogging the Apple: Susan Kiguli’s experience of reading Gabeba Baderoon’s poetry

Gabeba Baderoon and Susan KiguliLast year, Ugandan poet Susan Kiguli, joined the Love Africa Carnival with her Animal Portraits, the first poems of an anthology she is writing for children. When Animal Portrais was selected as one of the most loved Love Notes of its month, I sent Susan a copy of Gabeba Baderoon’s A Hundred Silences. After some problems with the posting of the book, it finally arrived in Uganda last week. I thought Susan’s response to Gabeba’s poems was just too lovely to keep locked away in my Google mail box, so I asked Susan if she would mind if I posted it here at BookSA and she said it would be fine.

Dear Alex,

The good news is that the book [A Hundred Silences] is here. I think both the book and the postal system heard your enquiry and decided to act faster and I the recipient am very happy about this.

I am very excited by the book and I have done what Prof Timothy Wangusa my poetry teacher warned us not to ever do and what I advise my students not to do and perhaps what D.H Lawrence paraphrased would not agree to. I hogged the book down all in one afternoon, but I endeavoured to hog it down with my senses awake. D. H . Lawrence says in his poem Mystic, and I quote:

The only way to eat an apple is to hog it down like a pig
and taste nothing
that is real.
But if I eat an apple, I like to eat it with all my senses awake
Hogging it down like a pig I call the feeding of corpses.

But I differ a little from D. H. Lawrence on some occasions; I think it is possible sometimes to hog down with all senses awake! But I doubt he would ever agree with me.
Anyway I really loved her simple fresh style; that sense the reader gets as if the writing of it came all too easily to the poet. I love that in a poem and that is why I love W. B. Yeats a lot. I also love the fact that the topics are so familiar and some so intimate without being intrusive. I am definitely going to teach the poem Old Photographs to my poetry class. I will now keep the book here and read it like D. H. Lawrence would have me eat an apple, slowly with all senses awake. I loved the cover of the book too – the illustration looked familiar like the photograph was taken in Uganda, I am sure it wasn’t but it seemed like that.

Thank you too for the rich card with the Love Africa Carnival insignia, I am going to hang it in my living room. Thank you again and I will get back to you about my childhood reading experiences soon. I am trying to beat some marking deadline but had to send you a note to say how pleased I am that my joining Love Africa carnival earned me Gabeba’s poems. I am so pleased. May it be said I feel the richer for it. Thank you Alex.

My best wishes and many smiles from here

The Project on New African Literatures has a recording of Gabeba Baderoon reading three poems from A Hundred Silences. (You’ll need to scroll down the page to Gabeba.)


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    February 4th, 2009 @11:09 #

    Oh, this is gorgeous, and it brings back happy memories of meeting Susan and Prof Wangusa ("Uncle Tim"). It's such a generous and intuitive response by a poet, to a poet, invoking poets.

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    February 4th, 2009 @16:29 #

    This is terrific. I hope Gabeba sees it.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    February 4th, 2009 @16:54 #

    With Susan's permission, I forwarded the email to Gabeba, and she replied with a lovely email in return.


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