Kagayi’s Poetry is good for the intellect

I love poetry. Heaven knows, I do but I was not ready for this book. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. The Headline That Morning is Peter Kagayi’s first poetry collection. Any Ugandan literature enthusiast knows Kagayi has been at his craft for as long as I can remember. [Personal story coming through. Because don’t we like association 😅].

Anyway, Kagayi, with The Lantern Meet of Poets, used to drop by school for poetry recitals and the like. Of course, I attended all of them, never actively though. Actively to mean I did not take part in the reciting nor did I share any poems. Once after Coffee House (yes, it was called Coffee House), I held my purple notebook and started to walk out. Kagayi stopped me at the door and said he knew I was a good writer even though I had not shared. Of course, I doubt he remembers but …wipes tear Let’s talk about his book, shall we?

I wanted to classify the poetry as sociopolitical commentary but even I would not believe that. Sure, it is. It forces you to think long and hard. It forces your eyes open. It makes you angry, but it gives you hope. It is so intricately, so carefully written with very vivid descriptions that it makes it so easy to understand, relate with and of course, love. You have to prepare yourself for an emotional roller coaster before you read this book. Okay, that is if, like me, words strike a chord with your inner person. Ah-ah, don’t roll your eyes, it is deep I tell you.

I heard the boy playing Daddy say:
“I’ll beat you,
Because I am Daddy.”
The girl playing Mummy was kneeling before the boy,
Her head slightly bowed as though coy
Subdued.
I heard the boy playing Daddy say:
“Also like my daddy,
I’ll divorce you.”

-A Family Portrait

I want to tell you that I have a favorite poem. I really do. But I am afraid Kagayi made it next to impossible to choose. I could say ‘A Family Portrait‘ is my favorite. Damn, that poem broke my heart in 9 lines.  If I choose ‘Last Night I Told A Stranger About You‘, it will be because I like listening to it. Oh, did I mention the book comes along with an audio CD of some poems? Yes, you buy it too 😅.

The poem “I Want To Write a Poem” intrigued me though. It is literally a description of the poems he writes. It makes me think of ‘The Audience Must Say Amen‘. Let me guess, I am losing you, right? (Ah, just read the book already)

As poets we like to think of ourselves as few of those who like to think
But to think takes a lot of thoughts that the audience should resonate with
And thus the thought structures and psychoanalytical patterns to be drawn
Have to have the backing of the thought structures of the people around us.

-The Audience Must Say Amen, Peter Kagayi.

Yes, it is that kind of poetry. Good for your intellect. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, as much as it worked my poor heart. I guess that is what we look for in a book. You are a different person after you read it, at least in your thinking. I wish our politicians could read some of these books though. Okay, I didn’t write the last line. Aliens 😆

And in case you did not get the memo, 19th July, you should want to say Amen.

Editors’ Notes

The Headline That Morning is published by Sooo Many Stories. 

This book review was originally published at Subtle Royalty, as part of the #Writivism2016 Festival Book Features. Mirembe Esther Astar is one of the select official book bloggers. She will review a number of books that will be launched, featured and available for sale at the festival. Look out for the badge below on your favourite book blogs. And come to the festival to buy the books and get them signed.

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