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Poetry and my writing club
Profile photo of Nyana Kakoma
Profile photo of Jens Laloire

Dear Jens,

I did not understand a word Lars said but he seems very passionate and his delivery is good. I have been to a couple of poetry slams in Kampala by Open Mic Kampala and Poetry In Session and quite often I am inspired by both the poems and the delivery. Sometimes it is just pure entertainment and other times very thought—provoking.

There is actually an upcoming poetry reading the day before Valentine’s Day. It’s being organised by Babishai Niwe Poetry Award. Basically poets have been invited to write poems on love, romance and they will read them that evening. I am really looking forward to that.

romance

We do not have slam competitions though. None that I know of anyway. In the competition, what criteria do they use to determine the winner? The content or the performance? Because a lot of writers cannot perform their own work so I am curious to know how that works.

Thanks for sharing your experience on the creative writing workshop. Thankfully, I will be facilitating with someone else so I am going to concentrate on the things I am good at and share those. I will tell you all about it. I worked as a Sub-Editor for a newspaper and later as Magazine Editor but my work with Sooo Many Stories has given me an opportunity to work as a fiction editor. I am learning so much and teaching myself quite a lot.

Before I go into the Kampala writing scene I thought I should tell you about my writing club that has helped my growth as a writer this past year. Also because in your last post, you mentioned that you would love to be a part of a writers’ club such as Femrite’s. You can start with a small group like my writing club.

In 2012 I was selected for the Caine Prize workshop that was held in Uganda for the first time. I found myself in the company of Harriet Anena, Davina Kawuma and Lillian A Aujo. I had seen them before (the writing scene in Kampala is quite small and you  end up bumping into the same people) but we were not that close. Garuga, where the workshop was held, brought us closer and we began with just talking about books and commenting on different conversations about writing.

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More on the importance of writing groups
Profile photo of Nyana Kakoma
Profile photo of Jens Laloire

Dear Jens, 

As promised, below, my friends Harriet Anena, Lillian A. Aujo and Davina Kawuma talk about belonging to a writing club and critiquing other writers’ work.

L-R: Davina Kawuma, Harriet Anena and Lillian A. Aujo, members of my writing group

L-R: Davina Kawuma, Harriet Anena and Lillian A. Aujo, members of my writing group

Would you advise someone to join a writing group?

Harriet Anena: A writing group with members that are dedicated to growing your art and not just tearing your work apart is a must join. Group members help you see the good and bad you may not have noticed in your work.

What do you think has helped your particular group work?

Lillian A. Aujo: Hard work, dedication and earnest critique. All these mean rewrites and drafts of drafts so we are all usually working on something.

Should writers critique other writers’ work or should that be left to readers and critics?

Davina Kawuma: Because I am both a reader and a writer, I suspect that there’s more than one way for me react to the written word. The reader-me approaches writing less as a critic and more as someone who wishes to be edutained. I won’t deny that I occasionally succumb to the despicable practice of reading to ‘spy’ what effects other writers are creating, and to attempt to demystify why and how and for what purpose these effects were created. However, I find, still, that I read mostly because I enjoy reading.

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Lantern Meet’s What Shall We Name This Child: Behind The Scenes
Profile photo of Nyana Kakoma
Profile photo of Jens Laloire

Dear Jens,

This must be a very interesting but intense week for because of the literature week. How was the reading on Saturday? How was it for you as a moderator? I hope it is a huge success. Can not wait to hear all about it.

Thank you so much for “taking me around” to the literature house, the Literaturkontor and the city library. It is now very apparent that Bremen has a huge respect for literature what with all these platforms for writers! It is really nice to see where you get to do what you truly love.

Have I told you about the Lantern Meet of Poets in Kampala? I think I mentioned them when I linked Peter Kagayi’s interview on Sooo Many Stories. Well, The Lantern Meet Of Poets has a recital starting tomorrow till Saturday.

I have attended their poetry recitals since their very first recital and I have always been curious about the process of putting together a recital. They allowed me to join them for one their rehearsals. We met in the Green Room at The National Theatre in the evening and the session began with one of the members asking how our day was. Patrick Massa, the Director/Producer of the recital walked in at around that time and asked the members to gather around for some games. All phones were to be in silent mode so as not to interrupt anything.

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Public readings, literature-prizes & scholarships
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Profile photo of Nyana Kakoma

Dear Nyana,

The literature week (LW) came to an end on Monday.

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the public reading with the winners of the literature prize in the Glocke

On Sunday evening there was the public reading with the winners of the literature prize: Marcel Beyer and Nadja Küchenmeister. Each of them got the prize for their book of poetry. That is uncommon (mostly authors get the prize who write prose), but maybe that´s the reason why there were not so many people in the audience like the last few years. I mean, there were around 120 people and that´s not bad, but that is less if you compare it to the last 5 or 6 years, when the winners read excerpts of their novels or of their short story collection. However, it was an interesting evening with excellent poems and talks about writing.

On Monday the LW came to the very end with the prize-giving ceremony in the old city hall of Bremen. The mayor made a speech in the beginning, then there were two laudatio speeches in honour of each winner and the winners made their thank you speeches. Nadja Küchenmeister talked in her speech about the process of writing poetry and about the power and strangeness of objects she is writing about in her poems. Marcel Beyer made a brilliant and very political speech about a protest movement we sadly have since the end of last year in Germany. Every Monday evening thousands of people (especially in Dresden) demonstrate against immigration (fortunately, also thousands of people demonstrate every Monday against that movement and for immigration). Beyer, who has lived in Dresden for 20 years made a courageous speech against that movement and their ideas. He quoted slogans these people use and mixed it up with phrases of Dantes Inferno, so that was quite fascinating.

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a report of the literature week
Profile photo of Jens Laloire
Profile photo of Nyana Kakoma

Dear Nyana,

As promised I will tell you about the literature week (LW) today.

Day 1

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The LW opened in the Wall-Saal of the city library with a public reading of the Bremen online magazine BOM13. The magazine is conducted by a collective of journalists, editors, photographers, writers, illustrators, comic book artist, designers and programmers. The idea is to make a magazine with plenty of room and a content that is just in the interest of the collective, regardless of advertising, editors, specified formats and subjects. So, in there you can find comics, photo art, short stories, poems and articles, which may go beyond their “normal” length. Every edition has a particular topic. This edition is on the topic of monitoring, which is, as I told you, the topic of the LW. So, half a dozen of the collective read reports, stories and poems, and a singer-songwriter played a guitar song – all about monitoring.

Day 2

Januar_2015 009

The same location as the day before, the same topic in one way, but more specific. The author and journalist Alexander Krutzfeld introduced his book about the Deep Web (also called Darknet or Hidden Web), this digital parallel world (if you compare it to the “normal” or surface internet). It was not a classical literature-reading, it was a mixture of a video-lecture, a reading and a discussion about the Deep Web. My job on stage was to introduce Alexander Krützfeld and his book, to ask him the right questions, to moderate the discussion with the audience and to finish the event at the right time. So, I would say all in all, it was a very interesting evening, everything worked well. There were more than 100 people in the audience and nearly all of them stayed to the end. Last but not least, there was a nice atmosphere on stage between the author and me, we both enjoyed working together (that´s important for the evening).

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Oh, the things we will learn!
Profile photo of Nyana Kakoma
Profile photo of Jens Laloire

Dear Jens,

It’s so nice to hear from you. I loved watching The Bremen Town Musicians of The Brothers Grimm. Thanks so much for sending that.

I look forward to learning about the literature scene in Bremen especially the Bremen Literature Week as we do not have anything like that. We do have a book week later in the year usually organised by Uganda Women Writers’ Association (Femrite) and it would be nice to see how different it is from the Bremen Literature Week.

Femrite

Femrite is an organisation you are going to hear me talk about quite a bit. The most consistent activity that happens in Kampala is the Monday Readers/Writers Club that is organised by Femrite and happens at their offices. Every Monday. Rain or sun shine. Readers and writers gather together to critique pieces of writing that are submitted anonymously. Once every month they also host an author that people get to interact with and learn from. I often attend these and will send some more photos and videos from the Club this month.

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important literature institutions of Bremen & the start of the literature week
Profile photo of Jens Laloire
Profile photo of Nyana Kakoma

Dear Nyana,

Today I´d like to introduce three important literature institutions of Bremen: the virtual Literaturhaus Bremen, the Bremer Literaturkontor and the city library (Bremer Stadtbibliothek). The Literaturhaus and the Kontor have both their offices in the Villa Ichon next to the Bremer Theater am Goetheplatz.

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The Villa Ichon

To get an impression about the work of the virtual Literaturhaus please start the audio and listen to the manageress Heike Müller:

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Creative Writing Workshops & Poetry Slams
Profile photo of Jens Laloire
Profile photo of Nyana Kakoma

Dear Nyana,

Thank you so much for all the information, links and photos. I would love to join the Monday Readers/Writers Club someday. I miss that: Coming together with other authors, readers, journalists and other literature enthusiasts to read and discuss our own texts. I was already thinking about organizing something similar in Bremen for a long time. It would be nice to have an open space with a similar nice atmosphere, as it seems to be in the Club that is organized by Femrite. And yes, sure, I´d love to hear you talking more about Femrite.

Concerning teaching creative writing: I´m sure you will do a great job, because there is so much you know and have to tell about poetry. I´m very impressed by your blog, there is so much to discover, all these exciting interviews (Unfortunately, I have only read three or four till now), brilliant poems and short stories. I have to read more of them in the next few days and I´d like to know more about the tradition of fireplace tales.

Also, I´m very impressed by the work and success of Peter Kagayi Mutanga in teaching, which he describes in the interview on your blog. It sounds as though he is doing very important work in the schools and is having astonishing results. I love to teach creative writing at schools, universities or anywhere else. At university I just taught a class that I have a lot of experience with. I´m working as a prose-writer and as a journalist so, I decided to do a lot with observing and describing in the seminar. Many times the students had to go out to look for something to describe. So, the first step was to watch and the second was to describe what they have seen, preferably (as much as possible) without evaluating, just describing for the moment. The third step was to work with these descriptions. I wanted them to play with and to modify these texts. For writing variations I worked with a book I admire – “Exercices de style” by Raymond Queneau; also I worked a lot with a book, that is written by one of Nikolas teachers in Hildesheim: Stephan Porombka. The book is called “Kritiken schreiben – Ein Trainingsbuch” (“writing reviews – a training book”. I´m sorry, it´s not translated till now).

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The first day – hello Nyana
Profile photo of Jens Laloire
Profile photo of Nyana Kakoma

Hello Nyana,

today is the first day of our “getting to know each other”. I´m really looking forward to the coming weeks. So, let me say a few things about what I´m going to do.

In the following weeks I will collect impressions of the writing scene Bremen. I will visit a lot of readings, meet writers, take a look inside of important literature institutions and will give you short reports about places, persons, networks and events, which are connected to the local literature scene. There will be many interesting events throughout the month of January, especially the Bremen literature week (Literarische Woche Bremen) from the 15th till 27th will promise a lot of exciting readings with national and international writers. Furthermore you can follow events with local authors like the presentation of the two winners of the author-scholarship Bremen (Bremer Autorenstipendium), who will read from their awarded texts on the 28th.

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