The Stray Bulletin

Arts and culture in East Africa and beyond

Making Modern Love August 21, 2010

Filed under: Poetry — Sophie Alal @ 4:26 pm

Making Modern Love

We are not like provincial lovers
Who wait to stalk funerals
That bring opportunities of replacing the departed,
Under the watch of the night, in verdant shambas

Armed with cash
We’ll open our hearts
On a plate of chips, with a soft drink
Things to nibble and sip, but not too large to distract
Maybe chaps? Muchomo and beer later?
Chips chicken will soften us for now,
And for future food that you commonly acknowledge is delicious.

If you should stare in pockets so deep
That the residential wallet is unseen by short fingers
Soon enough other networks become sexy,
Offering side dishes and desserts
For we’ll soon meet other friends with longer arms

It is constantly recommended by wily winners
That going dancing eases misgivings
In tender bones,
Unlikely to be tempered by the softness of night lights.
But if all is careening towards a cold spell
Drinks should be laid out till we are released from thinking.

We saw a secondary virgin sobbing at a table for two
Weighed down by the meanings of disease.
We saw a man who had become a man
For he knew now, how close he was to the deceased
And vaguely inundated with curses of,” Shit happens.”
Stumbled away with thoughts that grew from booze
And the dregs of making modern love.

So while good things begin to afflict us now
And beautiful things course through dull heads,
Causing wings of desire to grow like mushrooms in a mist
Of opportunity,
At last. We shall soon make modern love.

Sophie Alal

This poem won first prize in the Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award 2010.


Ugandan Artist Going Back To Basics

Filed under: Art reviews — Sophie Alal @ 4:12 pm
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Extract of art review for AfricanColours published on 05/07/2010

At his home-cum-studio, Michael Opio Orech talks about the many years it took for Opitox Art to become recognisable and what it means to his personal pursuit of happiness. After graduating from Makerere University, he was shut up behind documents and spent years as an archivist with the Bank Of Uganda.

Opio at work

Some artists out there are devoted to finding new styles – styles so creative that exponents of contemporary art are still surprising the public with their findings. For other artists, other than delving into an all out white wash of the usual expectations, they are going back to the basics; from dots to lines and finally stick figures.


Another angle to the joy of life is continuously finding new life after the destruction of functional objects. Such pieces include the remains of a calabash, a reconstituted wood panel, abandoned masks and traditional music instruments that have long gone silent. All the jagged pieces are embellished and recast as art.

Please read the full article at AfricanColours


Art & Poetry in Concert: The Butterfly Dance

Filed under: Art reviews,Book reviews,Events,Poetry — Sophie Alal @ 3:52 pm

Extract of art review by Sophie Alal for on 31/05/2010

Window dressing makes some uncomfortable situations bearable, while makeup, when skillfully applied to an ordinary face masks flaws and makes even the plainest individual an enigma.

And thus it is with visual art too, assuring that any extraordinary painting can transform a dull wall, page or any words by lending a little bit more of much needed colour and character.

The Butterfly Dance is the third episode in the poetry poster project series.

Cover of the book

It amounts to a mixed artistic grill, where established authors and upcoming writers collaborate with the finest of Uganda’s contemporary artists in transforming their words into colourful paintings.

The paintings were produced in the book to accompany the poems and stories.

Each one of the paintings was unique, though something similar shared by all of them was the presence of characters and plot.  And so even after taking a casual glance, you can imagine what is going on without the help of the accompanying poem or story.

The various techniques employed in the artists’ colourful interpretations of the poems encompass a wide range of media and styles, giving birth to works of collage, acrylics and water colours.

The artists are Stella Atal, Maria Naita, Paul Kaspa Kasembeko, David Kigozi, Joseph Ntesibe, Anwar Sadat and James Musaali.

After seeing some of David Kigozi’s paintings for the first time, it is natural to give a sigh of wonder at the realism with which he executes his work. His craft is displayed in a number of ways.

One  is the apparent ease with which he treats all his subjects, and the second is the economical use of colour which is in more ways dramatic, and no doubt done with an excellent artistic sense.

A Cockroach, shows fat cockroaches scurrying away to the right. In the near background, the black feet of chickens loom ominously, while the keen eye and beak of one of them is poised to strike.

Read the full review at AfricanColours