Thursday, September 13, 2012

190. Unjumping by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva

Unjumping (erbacce-press, 2010; 36) is a collection of poems by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva. The poems in this collection are diverse in themes but are all short and pithy. Beverley succeeds in putting a lot with few words. Themes range from love, sexual harassment, politics, motherhood and more. The first poem which is the title poem talks about regret and that proverbial impossibility of unwinding of time. It is a wish to get a clean slate and to begin life anew. Undo Me is a plea by a woman, perhaps to her loved one, for reconciliation and fulfilment of their love. This love piece of just six lines and twenty-eight words show is an example of how much Beverley could put into a poem with a few words.

Please Boss is a piece that recounts some of the sexual harassment that goes on at workplaces. Beverley found a way of putting humour in a rather humourless and tensed situation. She writes
Please if  we must
Then not on the desk
You're the boss
You deserve the plush Persian carpet.
The desk has too much of me
Cluttered clips,
Torn trash
Memorised minutes
If we must
Then not on the desk
Using alliterations she captured the tensed moments... 'the cluttered clips' and 'torn trash'. Here, is the boss a trash, or a hymen is to be torn and located within the 'torn' is that onomatopoeic sound of something tearing. The humour is in the fact that the boss was willing to do it on the desk and ironically the subordinate is asking him that they do it on the floor, which is lower than the desk - a floor which indicates a fall from a position of authority.

The longest piece is titled Suicide Bomber with a love twist to it. It was perhaps written for a loved one who happened to be a victim of the the July 7 2005 London bombings. Beverley questions good and bad, right and wrong as it relates to children and adults in Sunday School. She questions why certain things are barred to children and or women but then adults and or men could afford indulge in them. 

Using a fables, Beverley tells a story of the politics of nepotism common on the continent. In this poem, Mamba Crocodile Farm in Mombasa, Beverley describes the octogenarian leader - president or head of state - as a 'Big Daddy' and the people he rules with as crocodiles (or crocs) circling around him. The misuse of resources and that endemic corruption common to such rulers was also mentioned.

The Virgin Mary is about a man who is running away from the responsibility of a girl he has impregnated by accusing the woman of cheating. The first lines alone reeks of sadness and an absolute expression of innocence:
I can be The Virgin Mary
As long as the child is yours.
Post-colonial literature is dominated by the English language and there are only a few authors - I can only mention Ngugi wa Thiong'o - who write in both English and their local languages; however, in Eh! Eh! Beverley showed that she could also write in her local language. Though I couldn't read and understand, I still appreciated her for that.

At the family level and a more legal form of romance, Beverley dedicates Dancing to her husband and in Coffee she managed to find an analogy between sex and the brewing of coffee. Anyone who has been to Uganda, especially Kampala will know attest to its many metal scanners at every shopping mall, hotel and any public building. This is aptly described in Al Qaeda, where she writes:
I am an Al Qaeda.
Metal scanners are my foes; my friends. 
According to Beverley, this anthology came about when she made the top three out of close to 2,000 entries in the 2010 erbacce-prize for poetry, where the judges described her work as 'highly original', 'innovative', and as a 'breath of fresh air'. And I must state that the judges were right in their description. This is an interesting collection that could be read in one sitting but whose content will stay with one for a longer time. Recommended, that is if you can get access to it.
About the author: The author blogs here.


  1. a wonderful poet her work seems so sparse Nana ,all the best stu

  2. This is good. I like poems that are simple and yet original. Also, when a writer writes well in his language as much as in English, I pay respect to such writer. Good review, Nana.

    1. Yes it is SS. It's very original and that's how creative we should be.

  3. A wonderful collection and a fine review. Would like to get a copy.

    1. I don't think you will get a copy. I bought mine at a reading in Uganda.


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