Reading David Maillu II

Against the formal pleasure of reading Maillu’s verse narrative—a counterpoint to P’Bitek’s Song of Lawino—or alongside that pleasure, also the difficulty of reading what some critics dismiss as his vulgarity, and what I would term his banal misogyny. My Dear Bottle moves from male entitlement, Dear bottle, this is shame I don’t want my wife... Continue Reading →

Redemptive Turns

These fragments I have shored against my ruins. --T.S. Eliot, “The Wasteland” In a much-debated essay, Marjorie Perloff characterizes contemporary, mainstream poetry thusly: [T]he poems you will read in American Poetry Review or similar publications will, with rare exceptions, exhibit the following characteristics: 1) irregular lines of free verse, with little or no emphasis on... Continue Reading →

Reading David Maillu I

If you are to ask me what are the greatest issues in Africa, I would say it is that people love, people fuck, people kiss, people speak. —Binyavanga Wainaina David Maillu’s writing from the mid-1970s incarnates pornography within the Kenyan imagination. Even today, Maillu’s early works—No!, After 4:30, My Dear Bottle, Unfit for Human Consumption,... Continue Reading →

Writing the Kenyan Diaspora

The latest, forthcoming issue of Kwani? focuses on diaspora. Billy Kahora’s editorial outlines the imaginaries and materialities of the term diaspora in Kenya, tracking its changing meanings and sites: as military service, as education, as globalized labor, as respite, as success, as failure. Conceding the difficulty of capturing all these facets, he writes that diaspora... Continue Reading →

Reading Binyavanga IV

In the final part of this series, I want to think more deliberately about frames and framing: what geo-histories are appropriate to read One Day I will Write about This Place? Bracketed and intersected by 9/11, Kibaki’s ascent to power, Kenya’s post-election violence, and Obama’s election; written primarily during Binyavanga’s residence in the U.S., or,... Continue Reading →

Memos (Selection)

Memos started as an experiment in lo-tech: I wanted to write poetry but did not have a book or pen. Thus, I turned to my (cheap) phone's "Memo" function, which had a limited number of characters, 100, I believe. The limitation proved to be formally enabling. The original plan was to have 50 so-called memos.... Continue Reading →

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