African Writers Trust has trained writers for 10 years now. Some of whom have gone ahead to publish their work, start publishing houses, offer editorial services and so on and so forth. During day two of the AWT Poetry Training workshop, three of our alumni were guest speakers.
Ronald Kasirivu Ssekajja –Poet and author of Echoes of Tired Men, Dancing on Broken Lines and Wet Lips. Ronald who shared his experience about publishing poetry locally urged poets to gain financial literacy. He emphasized the need for urgency for every creative to make sense of the numbers to curb frustration.
Lillian Akampurira Aujo is a poet and fiction writer from Uganda. She is the winner of the Jalada Prize for Literature 2015 with the short story Where Pumpkin Leaves Dwell and the BN Poetry Award 2009 with the poem ‘Soft Tonight’. She shared her experience in publishing poetry locally and internationally: Winning prizes. Lillian shared a few nuggets from poets;
- Don`t be in a rush to publish your work. Give it time to gestate.
- Read widely-both local and international content. This helps you better your craft.
- Look out for websites that have calls for application, review them, and then apply for one that you believe works for you.
- While submitting your work for prizes and publishing, always be critical to whom you’re sharing the work
- Rejection is part of the process, don’t let it weigh you down.
Kagayi Ngobi is a theatre poet, playwright, poetry coach and the director of Kitara Nation, a poetry organization that creates platforms and various programs for young people in schools to enjoy poetry. Kagayi wowed participants when he shared his experience of creating a brand as a poet. Here are a few pointers on brand creation.
- Own and carry the tag of what you do. You are a poet and you should own that tag.
- Share what you do online and let people know. Use technology to your advantage and grow your brand.
- Know the trending themes for poetry and create your work around them.
- Know the trending topics in Uganda, East Africa, Africa and the world at large.
- Have knowledge of the existing poetry festivals in Uganda and the rest of the world.
- Know the trending poetry places and visit them.Network with other people of the same trade.
- Consult with other poets who are doing it right.
- Know the monetary worth of your work
- Write all the time because poets are craftsmen who work with words.
The last topic of the day was How to make money from poetry. The participants asked and probed about how they could make some money from their passion and career. The speakers encouraged them to first of all focus and grow as poets, gain knowledge so they give people value for money, save on whatever money they get, submit their work in places where they will be paid, create merchandise that can be sold and lastly publish their work as Ronald has done. Kagayi advised the participants to diversify their talents and gifts.
The day ended with poetry performances and readings from all the participants, guest speakers and lead trainer-Prof.Laban Erapu. The poetry performances were in English, Luganda and French which was simply elating.