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.


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


Kampala November 27, 2009

Filed under: Poetry — Sophie Alal @ 1:10 pm

With their energy

All who have come to seek their fortune,

Find the air thick with your presence. 


We who have walked your streets in our multitudes

our feet callused and broadened along your narrow streets

that nonetheless welcome our narrow lives,

so that we fit together, in this

small world sutured like the joints of our skulls



The Rebel Fell

Filed under: Poetry — Sophie Alal @ 12:13 pm
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Somewhere a bullet pierces a woman,

beyond the reaped edges of her clan’s farmland.

She gets caught in a thicket whose thorns she does not feel,

Limp feet drag on to a tree whose name the woman does not know.

With the sun at her back,

Here breaks the charm for luck .

Off her neck are the fetishes

from the sacrificial white hen, herb and hallowed water

To the bosom of the waiting earth.


The woman slumps, face down-

Watching her life drain away

Now the stained soil seeps from her lips.

heavily the grain is still in the sack-

drawn to the feast a fly lands on her lips.

The light dips lower as the last sounds

mute in the darkness, still she droops lower

into a night without mourning.


About her who fell unceremoniously

One day somebody shall write;

No rock or wood marks the grave

of these bleached broad bones

Save for a clump of wild sorghum

hailing her lost name.


This poem won third place in the first Annual Beverley Nambozo Poetry Prize, 2009.