Nyana Kakoma is launching a publishing house exclusive for Ugandan literature soon. The independent publisher takes the name we have so far known as her blog’s moniker. Join in welcoming Sooo Many Stories to the publishing world. The company will publish literary fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and has plans of publishing pulp fiction.
The bigger news is that the publisher’s first title is ready for the world. And guess what it is! It is a poetry collection. A collection of poems written, performed and recorded by one of the prominent names on the Ugandan poetry scene. The title of the collection is The Headline That Morning and Other poems and the poet is: Drumroll: Kagayi Peter!
The plans for a June 8, 2016 launch of the book are ready. The book comes highly recommended by poet, playwright and journalist Joshua Mmali (formerly of the BBC, now with the UN), Nigerian Professor Remi Raj, Kenyan poet Michael Osando and others.
We say congratulations to Nyana Kakoma for opening the way for Uganda’s Literature on the contemporary African literature scene. It is too early to make comparisons, but since Nyana left her public relations job and a journalism career behind to start Sooo Many Stories, first as a blog, she had a plan. She has taken time to develop skills in publishing, including attending workshops and an internship at Modjaji Books in Cape Town.
Let us tell you more about the book. In true Song of Lawino spirit, the book is not just text. It has audio versions of the poetry. Kagayi and other collaborators went to the studio to record 15 of the poems. Restoring connections between music and poetry is the big deal.
If you have not watched Kagayi perform his poetry, you will listen and feel the goosebumps grow on you as he recites the work. We have listened to him sample ‘Nightmares’, one of the poems in the collection, about Ben Kiwanuka and yes, we were transported to the 1970s. Now, Kagayi’s themes in this collection are more eclectic. Some poems tend towards the erotic. We have listened to Hawa Kimbugwe on ‘Wamma, it is just a thought’ and we could not help picturing a ‘warm bed’. And love, too. ‘Last Night I Told a Stranger All About You’ is Kagayi at his most romantic. The CD will be sold separately but if you buy both the CD and the book, you will get discounts on both.
There are many reasons we have crowned the entry of Sooo Many Stories onto the publishing scene, the moment that will change the production, publication and consumption of Ugandan Literature forever. It goes beyond the combination of textual excellence with oral experimentation. It is the respect being paid to publishing poetry. Uganda is after all known as the poetic country. It is the legacy of Okot P’Bitek’s Song of Lawino. Uganda is no longer a publishing desert. Sooo Many Stories’ publishing strategy ensures that it is a distinctly Ugandan publisher, who understands the Ugandan literary scene, its idiosyncrasies and ensures that it encompasses them in its production. Ugandan literary production goes beyond published books. It includes performance.
The choice of Kagayi Peter’s collection as the first book is important for Sooo Many Stories’ publishing ethos. Kagayi is the most active poet on the Ugandan scene. He was President of the Lantern Meet of Poets, he curates The Poetry Shrine and is coordinator at Writivism. He is the right name to carry the flag for a new generation of Ugandan poetry.
Congratulations to Sooo Many Stories, to Kagayi Peter and let us all prepare to buy in hundreds and thousands the launch copies of The Headline That Morning and Other poems.