Monday, 29 November 2010

Monday Feature - Writer and Poet Mildred Kiconco Barya

I (Leslie Moon) am standing in for Brian Miller this week. I have the honor of featuring Mildred Kicono Barya, on One Stop Poetry, this week. I was introduced to Mildred (Midi) through a mutual friend,Josepf Haslam. I'm not only impressed with this woman's writing but her heart for her people. 

As a writer, poet and organisational psychologist, Mildred Kiconco Barya has worked in the book industry, broadcasting, and human resources consulting with Ernst & Young. She has written travel articles, features, commentaries, book reviews, essays and short stories for various newspapers, journals and magazines.
She is presently at Syracuse University (New York) working on her MFA (Master's Fine Arts). In her spare time, she is part of a non-profit established to encourage writing in Africa.

Many thanks to Mildred for taking time out of her holiday for this interview.

Midi - When you graduate from Syracuse what are your dreams for your writing?
To keep writing, really, and also to have more publications out because what's the point of writing to keep everything in the drawer if you believe in sharing? Right now, I'm revising my novel manuscript and also writing short stories. I hope in two or three years I'll have the novel out and some short stories as well. Poetry is the constant, it meets the every day life and concerns. Prose is something i have to plan and work on for the long term.

What message would you want to convey to a fledgling poet?
To keep writing. To keep trying until they find their feet (maybe nowadays its their shoes). No baby would be walking if they'd been afraid of that first step. So the point is to get the first words out, the first sentence, and follow it up with more words and somehow it will all begin to make sense.

How has writing changed your life?
This is a hard one to respond to in a few words. But I think it has made me more of a believer. By believing I mean in creativity, in possibility, in imagination, and in creating an unknown world. Each day begins with a high dose of optimism because of what I can create to make a couple of folks feel better, and because of what I've seen others succeed at creating. Without the writing, maybe I'd be a resigned person, which would be terribly sad.

Let me encourage you to read Midi's poetry a few times. There is a depth in her work that I know you will enjoy.

The Call
Come to the edge, he said
It’s dangerous there, I answered
Come to the edge, he said
It’s risky, I might fall and break my bones
Come to the edge, he said
I did,
He pushed me,
And I flew.

The Vultures
(I don’t usually try to explain my poetry but here I’ll say this poem has nothing to do with vultures but has a lot to do with vultures.)

The vultures descend
This one is ready meat, they say to one another
The girl pretends she’s dead
They poke her head eager to feast on her brains
But it’s turtle shell hiding arrows, mazes and puzzles
Their beaks crack and two leave
The one that stays strikes raising much dust
The girl rises, clears the dust and heads home.

After the Tsunami
Pain is in the swollen silence
That comes after watching
The broadcast news-
Laughter fades
Deep calls to deep of every nation
Eyes search for a place,
To lay down the sorrow.

Trapped in a web of tangled emotions,
Wordless wounds fester,
We stand on the banks and exhume the debris
Remembrance is nothing but this crumbled pile.

We did not notice how it started,
Waves that were callous
Gathered their force and ripped us apart
Wails of a thousand voices echo:
Prove that God is there, attest to his care!

We are stripped of all answers.

Tears happen,
Hearts splinter
Loneliness and terror,
Make their visitation known
This is what it means;
To hold infinity in a grain of sand,
To watch leaves blown by wind fall to the ground
We too are severed by the seasons’ change,
The price of memory crippled by loss.

The sky wears a cloak of bereavement
The moon is somber stricken,
We hung between despair and brokenness
Strands of grief weave us together
We are knotted into a ball of mourning
Wrapped in heartache’s arms
Only blinding faith and generous hands sustain us,
In the wake of Tsunami.

Her first collection of poetry titled Men Love Chocolates But They Don’t Say won the Uganda National Award for poetry publication, 2002. The Price of Memory After the Tsunami is her second poetry collection published by Mallory International, UK, 2006. Give Me Room to Move My Feet her third poetry book, 2009. Amalion. All available to buy from the One Stop Bookshop

Mildred’s short story publications include: “Scars of Earth” published in The African Love Stories Anthology, Ayebia Clarke Publishing Ltd, UK, 2006. “Effigy Child” published by Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA) UK, 2004, and republished in Gifts of Harvest, FEMRITE, 2006. “Raindrops” published in Words From A Granary, FEMRITE anthology, 2001. “Land of my Bones”, published in Dreams, Miracles & Jazz, an anthology of New Africa Fiction, Pan Macmillan, 2008.

You can find more of Midi's fantastic writing at her website

The non-profit for African Writers that she is part of is called African Writers Trust.  African Writers Trust: aims to facilitate and put in place structures that encourage synergism, writing development and publishing prospects for African writers.

Photo by: Frerieke


Emmanuel Ibok said...

When I read works like this, I know I am still far from my prime...these poems were really amazing and inspiring...I loved them all.

Thanks Moon for spotlighting this inspiring Writer...I feel motivated already.

Cheers to Mildred Barya and the One shot team.

Maureen said...

Thank you for introducing me to Mildred through this excellent interview. "The Call" is an especially wonderful poem.

Gerry Snape said...

i didn't know that she had written.."come to the edge". Thanks for enlightening me, I had discovered it in a paper with no writer's name.

dustus said...

In addition to her wonderful poetic offerings, Midi's support of African writers is admirable. All the best to her as she continues to make a difference in the lives of readers and fellow artists. Inspiring feature, Leslie. Cheers

Brian Miller said...

nice moon...thanks for the fill in as well...these poems are great...the call resonates with me as well...

Chris G. said...

Wow, now this is a busy woman! And such heart - lovely poetry, and what she's doing is very admirable. If only more people would get involved in such ways...

Anonymous said...

very interesting. Thanks for the link, Leslie

Warmest Salad

Luke @ WordSalad

ps here is my poem On Africa (somewhat close to my heart as I studied Africa Anthropology and Musicology at Master's level) -

Hope said...

what a wonderful interview! Mildred, your works are brilliant and inspiring!

thank you One Stop!

Beachanny said...

Inspiring, deep and emotional works. Thank you Leslie for this feature and thank you Midi for sharing your amazing work with us.

Heather Grace Stewart said...

Thank you for introducing me to Mildred's poetry!

Pete Marshall said...

this was a wonderful spotlight on a truly talented writer...who's talent is not only found in her work but what she can also give to others...thanks leslie for spotlighting this and i hope we get to see more of Mildred in the future...pete

Anonymous said...

I fool interpret a scarcely any of the articles on your website trendy, and I really like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorites trap period roster and will be checking back soon. Divert repress out my orientation as well and vindicate me be acquainted with what you think. Thanks.