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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Living the ambience of the poetic world


The 100-seater room at the National Theatre was on Saturday night full; so packed in fact that one could hardly find where to stand. Now, this was shocking because previous poetry events, at least in Uganda, are not known to pull such crowds. And you ask: why was this different?

The answer lay not in the fact that the show was free but in the packaging of the product. Apart from the musicality of the name The Lantern Society of Poets, this was the opening of the many poetry recitals dubbed ‘The Lantern Meet of Poets’ by this group of creative artists and budding Ugandan poets.

It was not until last year that they began and continue to meet fortnightly at the National Theatre although the idea was first mooted three years ago by four Makerere University students with the same passion for poetry.

“We wanted to share poetry, talk and critique young poets’ work with a view of raising the intellectual bar, the social bar, the literary bar and all the bars you can think of,” said group member Colin Asiimwe.

If the hush that encompassed the room and the concentration of the viewers and the wild applause that followed every act meant raising the bar, then it’s alright to give credit where it’s due, after all that is a mark of intellectualism.

Poetry is said to be an intricate subject too deep to be comprehended or performed by ordinary mortals. But don’t be deceived. A girl named Rachel had it right with enunciation and her system was sync with her rippling voice. She seemed unaware of the spotlight and her recitation of The Musician left the spectators spellbound.

The live musical breaks too had the audience riveted –especially the guitarists plucking away like no one was looking, and the guy that came and sat on a wooden stool and played a love song on his violin for “all the ladies in the house!”

Here were poems on the circumstances that define life; the good and bad times, love and hate, fortune and misfortune and all things brought out dramatically vocally to make the sensitive cry and laugh and the stony-hearted drink from their small bottles of gin. Only one or two of the performers were slightly inaudible.

When finally the curtain fell after three hours of outstanding performance, the Lantern Poets received an explosive ovation from the audience, at which point, a smiling Guy Mambo, the group director, promised another show over the Christmas holiday.

It was time to head home, singing that old Luther Vandross/Janet Jackson song, that truly the best things in life are free!

--Daily Monitor, August 23, 2008