Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Hargeysa

Enlarge poem

I came to you the first time pretending I could understand,
figure you out, cup your soul in my hand, map it, and sell it.
Tarmac roads and electronics shops slapped my empty hand.

The streets bathed in women’s gorgora
vivid like Joseph’s coat multiplied.
Plastic bags in yellow, pink, blue, fluttered
like nests in the thorn bushes,
filled with ghosts of birds long-fled.
Strawberry and blue ice cream walls:
could I help dreaming in colour?

My eyes closed against fine sand.
Very firmly against begging children
and makeshift hovels close to Parliament.

I know this time
that this is a place you come to listen
to the sound of hues, of wind-driven grit,
of bullets and weddings in the night;
to hear the story of the MIG trapped in time.
And see the power of the Somali woman.

One day I might begin to know.

Phyllis Muthoni

Featured Poem:

Fish Cleaner

Enlarge poem

(Ggaba beach, Kampala, 2005)

Hovering near the shed as he
waited for me to finish with the fishmonger
he then silently materialised by my side.
Though every week it’s been a different fellow
today’s face just doesn’t fit – it’s got a big scrape
on the top of the cheekbone, near the left eye.
The scab has recently been picked off
exposing pinkish-red skin that looks
bizarrely like the tops of fresh fillet.
I have a macabre vision:
his half-stoned face popping out from the fish in the fridge
when I go to get a drink of water at night.
I shudder,
yet meekly follow him to a dark, scale-laden wooden table.
I watch his stumpy fingers delve a keen blade
into the soft yielding flesh of a tilapia,
flying scales glistening when they hit a sunray.

He’s carrying on five different conversations in Luganda
with his fellow practitioners,
and gutting fish seems the easiest thing in the world

phyllis muthoni

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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  • Optimism (1)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (1)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

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Biography

Phyllis Muthoni has contributed poems to Kwani? and the Black Arts Quarterly magazine (Stanford University). She has been writing poetry ‘seriously’ since 2003. Her investment in time and thought shines through her recent collection, Lilac Uprising , which has been likened to ‘a cool drink of water: clear, spare, fresh and vital’ (Doreen Baingana, author, Tropical Fish). Lilac Uprising, the title poem, is part of a four-piece poem that utilizes the life stages of a Jacaranda tree to highlight how she deals with the loss of her grandmother. Phyllis works part-time as a poetry editor.

‘Phyllis Muthoni has written and courageously self-published a book that redefines how Kenya can be viewed…It is a thrilling read, a collection of fantastic poems that converts what we see from the corner of our eye into something kaleidoscopic…’

Phyllis Muthoni

phyllis muthoni
phyllis muthoni

Biography

Phyllis Muthoni has contributed poems to Kwani? and the Black Arts Quarterly magazine (Stanford University). She has been writing poetry ‘seriously’ since 2003. Her investment in time and thought shines through her recent collection, Lilac Uprising , which has been likened to ‘a cool drink of water: clear, spare, fresh and vital’ (Doreen Baingana, author, Tropical Fish). Lilac Uprising, the title poem, is part of a four-piece poem that utilizes the life stages of a Jacaranda tree to highlight how she deals with the loss of her grandmother. Phyllis works part-time as a poetry editor.

‘Phyllis Muthoni has written and courageously self-published a book that redefines how Kenya can be viewed…It is a thrilling read, a collection of fantastic poems that converts what we see from the corner of our eye into something kaleidoscopic…’

Hargeysa

Enlarge poem

I came to you the first time pretending I could understand,
figure you out, cup your soul in my hand, map it, and sell it.
Tarmac roads and electronics shops slapped my empty hand.

The streets bathed in women’s gorgora
vivid like Joseph’s coat multiplied.
Plastic bags in yellow, pink, blue, fluttered
like nests in the thorn bushes,
filled with ghosts of birds long-fled.
Strawberry and blue ice cream walls:
could I help dreaming in colour?

My eyes closed against fine sand.
Very firmly against begging children
and makeshift hovels close to Parliament.

I know this time
that this is a place you come to listen
to the sound of hues, of wind-driven grit,
of bullets and weddings in the night;
to hear the story of the MIG trapped in time.
And see the power of the Somali woman.

One day I might begin to know.

Featured Poem:

Fish Cleaner

Enlarge poem

(Ggaba beach, Kampala, 2005)

Hovering near the shed as he
waited for me to finish with the fishmonger
he then silently materialised by my side.
Though every week it’s been a different fellow
today’s face just doesn’t fit – it’s got a big scrape
on the top of the cheekbone, near the left eye.
The scab has recently been picked off
exposing pinkish-red skin that looks
bizarrely like the tops of fresh fillet.
I have a macabre vision:
his half-stoned face popping out from the fish in the fridge
when I go to get a drink of water at night.
I shudder,
yet meekly follow him to a dark, scale-laden wooden table.
I watch his stumpy fingers delve a keen blade
into the soft yielding flesh of a tilapia,
flying scales glistening when they hit a sunray.

He’s carrying on five different conversations in Luganda
with his fellow practitioners,
and gutting fish seems the easiest thing in the world

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (1)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (1)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

Hargeysa

Enlarge poem

I came to you the first time pretending I could understand,
figure you out, cup your soul in my hand, map it, and sell it.
Tarmac roads and electronics shops slapped my empty hand.

The streets bathed in women’s gorgora
vivid like Joseph’s coat multiplied.
Plastic bags in yellow, pink, blue, fluttered
like nests in the thorn bushes,
filled with ghosts of birds long-fled.
Strawberry and blue ice cream walls:
could I help dreaming in colour?

My eyes closed against fine sand.
Very firmly against begging children
and makeshift hovels close to Parliament.

I know this time
that this is a place you come to listen
to the sound of hues, of wind-driven grit,
of bullets and weddings in the night;
to hear the story of the MIG trapped in time.
And see the power of the Somali woman.

One day I might begin to know.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.