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Poetry Parnassus:

BBC Online Interview for Poetry Parnassus

Poetry Parnassus: Meet the poets from Albania, India and Uganda

The largest ever global gathering of poets begins in London on Tuesday. The Poetry Parnassus features poets from all 204 Olympic nations. The event will launch with a 100,000 bookmark-shaped poems being dropped from a helicopter near the Southbank Centre.The week-long event has been billed as “the largest gathering of international poets in world history”. Here, three poets – Albania’s Luljeta Leshanaku, India’s Tishani Doshi and Uganda’s Nick Makoha – tell BBC News arts correspondent Tim Masters about their writing and why they are taking part.

Nick Makoha was born in Uganda and fled the country with his mother during the Idi Amin dictatorship. He then lived in Kenya and Saudi Arabia before settling in London. His writing deals with displacement, loneliness and the impact of forced exile. He is working on his first collection of poetry and also has a one-man show, My Father & Other Superheroes.

It’s an hounour representing Uganda. It’s a place I’m really proud to be from but I don’t know much about. Part of the disconnect is that I stopped speaking my language when I was younger. But poetry has become my second language. My mum says I wrote my first poem when I was six. This is my passion. I’m one of the few people in the world who actually gets to live their passion. A lot of people say they’re not enjoying work. Me not enjoying work means that I’ve not been able to write a poem. At Poetry Parnassus I’ll be taking part in an event named after one of the poems in my new collection – Prayers for Exiled Poets. All the poets on the night have all experienced exile from their countries of birth. My new collection is about Uganda and having to flee. I left at the age of four. I remember being on the plane, and the overhead light almost blinding me, and the noise of the cabin pressure – it was like the breath of God. I want to write a poem about it, but I haven’t got the words for it yet.

Poetry Parnassus runs from 26 June to 1 July and is part of the London 2012 Festival.

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