The last 4 years have seen the rebirth of writing in Kenya and with it the emergence of performance poetry. Writers such as Binyavanga Wainaina, Parsalelo Kantai, Muthoni Garland, Kingwa Kamencu, Yvonne Owuor, Onduko Bw’Atebe among others. Many of these have gone on to win local and international awards.
In the same period, the re-birth of poetry but this time in spoken form was witnessed with forums like Kwani Open mic, Rhythm & Spoken, WAPI, becoming spaces where poets could share their poems in way of performance.
Other monthly as well as annual events like the Sunday Salon, Story Moja Hay Festival and Kwani LitFest have ensured that writers and poets get to meet under the literature banner to not only inspire each other but also inspire many Kenyans who enjoy a good read and watch poetry come alive.
Despite this growth however, the same challenges plague Kenyan Writers and Poets – getting published.
This has been a challenge that every new writer and poet faces in a bid to get their work out there and the debate always goes the egg and hen way; what comes before the other? The writer having a huge demand hence publisher seeing the worth in publishing or publisher taking a risk and discovering a gem?
The internet has been around for quite some time and has recently become a very important tool for socializing.
For early initiates like me who discovered the internet a bit early, there are a number of creative writers (writers and poets) who discovered this great tool and who started blogging as early as 2005. Muki garang and Matathia (Potash) are such writers. I also started this blog around the same time.
Fast forward to the year 2010 and a lot of poets now have blogs. Poets like Cereal in a box, CizoePoetry, Wamathai, Ngwatilo just to mention a few. Theirs is a battle half won in the publishing challenge as they are able to publish their poetry and get the much desired reaction from readers in form of comments to their poetry posts.
At this point I would like to share my experience which though unique in Kenya has become the norm in the west. I got discovered through my blog and did not take much convincing to get Nsemia to publish my collection as the comments were enough evidence of the nature of my poetry.
As a fellow blogger and significant other aptly put it “The power of the Pen meets with the power of the net” That is how POWO (Poets and Writers Online) was born.
It is time for creative writes to look beyond getting a book published and venture into cyberspace for the immense opportunities that lay in wait.
There are animators, TV producers, online magazines looking for some good creative works either in form of a story or a poem.
The digital world remains unconquered by creative writers with platforms like Itunes offering opportunities to poets and writers who can turn their work into audio. Youtube is a free video site where one can easily upload their performance video opening up opportunities for performances outside Kenya.
Although the internet does have a lot of benefits, it is also good to be cautious and know how to copyright your works, apply for intellectual property as well deal with cases of plagiarism and copyright infringement when such cases arise.
This is what the POWO forum seeks to do for its members, not only make them aware of opportunities in the digital world but also equipment them with the necessary tools to survive and thrive online.
Join us in this venture where ‘The power of the pen meets the power of the Net’
I leave you with a quote by one of the 1st POWO guest Speakers, Njoroge Matathia.
“As a writer, I cut my teeth on the internet a space where as far as writing goes, the dabbler meets the hobbyist and the MFA backed craftsmanship meets raw talent. The internet: a veritable patch pourri of style and form; a babel of trained and untrained voices; a cacophony of the phony know-it-alls outshouting of the too-smart-for-TV pundits; the only place in the wide world where genius shares both a podium and accolades with mediocrity.”
Read the rest of this article ” Made on the Internet” here.