Dear Jens,

This must be a very interesting but intense week for because of the literature week. How was the reading on Saturday? How was it for you as a moderator? I hope it is a huge success. Can not wait to hear all about it.

Thank you so much for “taking me around” to the literature house, the Literaturkontor and the city library. It is now very apparent that Bremen has a huge respect for literature what with all these platforms for writers! It is really nice to see where you get to do what you truly love.

Have I told you about the Lantern Meet of Poets in Kampala? I think I mentioned them when I linked Peter Kagayi’s interview on Sooo Many Stories. Well, The Lantern Meet Of Poets has a recital starting tomorrow till Saturday.

I have attended their poetry recitals since their very first recital and I have always been curious about the process of putting together a recital. They allowed me to join them for one their rehearsals. We met in the Green Room at The National Theatre in the evening and the session began with one of the members asking how our day was. Patrick Massa, the Director/Producer of the recital walked in at around that time and asked the members to gather around for some games. All phones were to be in silent mode so as not to interrupt anything.

I did not quite get the use for the games until Massa explained the reason behind the first game, the falling game. In the game, different members were to let themselves fall and the members in the circle had to run and make sure that the falling member did not really fall.

“Fall. Take a risk and trust these people. You are going to perform with these people and that takes trust too,” He encouraged.

Patrick Massa (middle) gives instructions to David Kangye (left) and Peter Kagayi (right) ​before the games.Photo 1

The next game was to reenact the emotions that he called out. From anger to happiness to shyness to surprise, we were asked to reenact them with the person nearest to us and at some point, we had to do so without uttering any words. Because I am not a natural performer, this was a hard task for me and I was so grateful I did not have to perform. Most times I giggled when I should have been swearing that I was going to cut off someone’s head. Afterwards, we were asked to share what we had learnt from that game:

Do as I do.
Photo 2

Performing is about shared energy. The energy you give the audience is the same they will give back to you.

Sometimes the audience is a mirror of your performance. Prepare well and package the performance well so they can feel the emotions you want to convey.

Sometimes it is hard to be angry when there is no need to be (Oh so that wasn’t just me?). Hold onto a memory that may have made you feel that way before.

Be as creative as you can be.

“You knew. You knew. You knew.” recites the poet.Photo 3

After the games, all chairs were moved to the same side of the room for performers to perform infront of us. All around me, lips were moving as the performers went over their lines, their faces sometimes cringing at a line forgotten. Memories of moments when we would be chanting the order of the periodic table right before a Chemistry exam in high school came rushing.

One by one, performers took to the stage, some still reading their poems off a piece of paper, others reaching into their memories for lines they had been going over. As the audience, we were asked to give honest feedback to the performers so they could see what they could do better.

“I promise. This is the last time I am reading from this paper,” promised one performer.

“Can we do it again?” said another after stumbling over a couple of lines.

You’re giving us, the audience, a cold shoulder. Look at us. Involve us.

I’m trying to give you feedback without using words that are harsh.

How do you feel about that performance?

Record your performance and listen to it and see if you like what you hear.

Each poet stood and took the feedback, made notes and in some cases where the interpretations of the poems were different, queried the feedback. They stood, vulnerable and took note of what was good and what was very bad.

Jason Ntaro reads a poem from his phone.
Photo 4

Remember, the stage is yours.

Do you believe in the message of the poem?

That poem does not need to be recited. It needs to be acted.

You have become a predictable performer. Your words are emphatic enough, no need to overdo it.

Elijah Bwojji, a member of the Lantern Meet of Poets since 2009 says What Shall We Name This Child is about identity and culture.

“It’s something we found ourselves going back to for about a year. We asked ourselves who we are in light of our past.” Once the discussions on the theme begun, poems were written and auditions for the performers were held.

I can’t wait to see the transformation the performers will have undergone for the performances this weekend!