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The African Book Review met with finalists for The Brunel University African Poetry Prize to discuss their poems, inspirations, and hopes for the future of African Poetry. Here’s our interview with Nick Makoha, a poet from Uganda, whose powerful poem “Beatitude,” dwells on the pain of refugees forced to leave their country.

ABR:  Your poem “Beatitude,” which is a finalist for the Brunel University African Poetry prize, touches on an everyday (almost casual) violence as the backdrop to a country that is unstable. The lines “Run past sleep, past darkness visible./ Stop when you find a country where they do not know your name,”  are especially powerful. Can you talk a bit about the inspiration for this poem and what it’s representative of?

MAKOHA: “Beatitude” is a perfect example of the metic experience. This poem came as one stream of consciousness. I really had to stop myself from writing it. It is a capstone in my poetry collection in that it holds a hidden pain which I really discuss about leaving my country. It also sets up the cinematic landscape of the world I want my reader to inhabit; a world that does not belong to the European consciousness. It is a world that runs parallel to the world we live in right now.

In today’s culture there is a cynical view of the refugee or the asylum seeker but I wanted to give a clear understanding of what many people around the world suffer in a matter of fact way.

Beatitudes are the blessings that Jesus gave in the bible. I wanted to communicate that for many leaving their beloved it homeland and running to freedom is a blessing at the cost of losing all.   See the full interview  The African Book Review