Somewhere Else by Mathew Shenoda – Poetry Review

somewhere elseSomewhere Else

by Mathew Shenoda

From the river Nile to the teeming streets of Cairo, from the indigenous, pre-Islamic Egyptian Coptic civilization to an America struggling with its fear of the Arab world, Shenoda’s poems recall the sacred traditions of an ancient, enduring culture as they widen the political conversation surrounding ethnicity, pan-Africanism and pan-Arabism. This notable collection spans generational, political and cultural divides, providing a nuanced perspective virtually unknown in the West.

Publisher: Coffee House Press, Minneapolis

Purchase Here: Somewhere Else on Amazon

Favorite Poems from this Book:

Excerpt of Somewhere Else

...
There will come a day when they say: 
who do you think you are 
and another day will come 
for you to tell. 

On that day the story will appear 
but do not tell of yourself 

tell the story of the staff that blossomed in the desert
or the one about your enemy’s greatest victory

tell the story of somewhere else...Read This Poem

Excerpt of New Cairo

…I stand on the balcony, staring

Withdrawn from this poverty by a mere Generation,

Then I remember

Great Grandmother used to say:

“If you throw salt away

God will make you

Pick it up

One grain at a time

with your eyelashes”

Take a moment and just imagine what it would take to actually collect salt one grain at a time with your eyelashes.  Yes, there would be tears, what an impossible task, you’d say.  At first, I laughed at the idea of Great Grandmother’s statement, but then you think about it and it’s eye opening. If you’re desperate you’ll do it, right?  You’ll find a way to collect that salt with your eyes, but what a painful process that would be.  So, don’t throw away a good thing…hmm…

Mathew Shenoda’s thought-provoking Poetry = Stunning, Effortless Truths

Elly in Nairobi Thoughts

Mathew Shenoda writes poetry with a deep love for heritage and culture.  There is always that sense of go back, think about where you come from, how it has shaped you, why you are this person today. I think this book reminds me to remember where am from and where I belong.  Where is home? What does that word mean really?

Time changes, as it must, we all change, but even with change, stop and embrace what your past is, how you’ve gotten here.  What were your ancestors’ hopes, one day you’ll be the one they’ll call ancestor.

What do you want them to think of you?

Immortal Blood- Book Review

Immortal BloodImmortal Blood

by Magen McMinimy

A perfect night on the town turns out to be her worst nightmare. A date with a handsome man is the catalyst for events that she thought only happened in fairy tales. Thrust into a world of danger, Isabelle has no idea what is in store for her as the Light and Dark Fae fight over her future.

Isabelle Moreno is a young woman working her way through life, finding little time for love and adventure. Until she agrees to a date with a mysterious stranger, only to find out the secrets this man holds are something she could have lived her entire life without knowing. The Dark Fae Luck Eater has found something enticing in Isabella’s humanity.

Bain is an arrogant playboy and an Immortal Light Fae Warrior. He and his four brothers fight for the safety of the human race while remaining something of myth. After weeks of tracking the Dark Fae Luck Eater, Bain comes across yet another victim, in Isabelle.

Bain has finally found his match in this feisty human as she fights against him and her ever growing attraction to the Immortal who is bound to protect her.

Book Review:

The story starts with Izzy going on a date with a handsome man named Zander.  This is her first date in a while, and she only agreed to it because her younger sister Marie urged Izzy to enjoy the last year of her twenties and put herself out there.

She’s liking this Zander guy and agrees to a nightcap with him, so off they go.  In comes two warriors, Uriah and Bain, who are hot on Zander’s heels.  Apparently, Zander is a vicious thief who steals luck from successful women.  Why?  Because he is a leprechaun and therefore Fae…for a moment, my mind flashes back to Lost Girl and the bi-Succubus who rules that town…lol…back to Immortal Blood.  Poor Isabelle is saved by Bain and Uriah, but they were a tad late and she’s lost a lot of her luck.  She’s falling on her face, almost getting knocked by a truck, and generally her happy date has turned into a nightmare as Bain and Uriah unveil great huge wings, that leave her disbelieving.

Now that Zander has her luck, Bain is tasked to protect Isabelle as Zander will want to come back for more. And because she refuses to leave with Bain, he is forced to stay at her house until she agrees to leave with him.   Bain is a spoiled brat, a playboy, and the most arrogant man Isabelle has ever met, and because of that, she makes it a point to be as stubborn as she can be, when he makes unreasonable demands.  The best part of this story is the dance between Bain and Isabelle.  He likes her because she stands up to him, she does her best to counter his arrogant ways, and grudgingly likes him as she gets to know him.

I love the twist on the Fae world. I find the funny play on Vampires and Bain’s Immortal Warrior interesting.  The writer paints her own take of the magical world, giving it an identity that’s refreshing and at the same time familiar.  The plot is strong, and the characters lovable.  I had no problem reading through this in one sitting.  I’d recommend it to anyone who loves a good fantasy novel.

I got this book from Amazon.

Currently available on your Kindle: Here 

Poetry Week Ends – Recap

Poetry Week Ends!

I’m kind of sad about that because there are so many poems.  I found so many that I don’t think I could reach the end in the next five years.  There are a lot of poets from Kenya out there, quietly posting their work and talent on their blogs.  Which made me think that I should have a Blogs Week soon.

Here’s  a Recap of the Poems I got to check out this week.

Poetry Week Poems/ Lyrics

1. Ask My Shoes by H_Art the Band.

2. You Break My Heart by Nakitare

3. I’m Not Yours to Fix by Namatsi Lukoye

4. Obsession by Maureen

5. Demons of Her Love by Njau Njeru

6. Meditations of a Father by Salem Lorot

I hope you had as much fun as I did.  Great Talent all round!

Poetry Week – Salem Lorot’s Meditations of a Father

I found this poet through an interview on Poets United : Life of a Poet.  Salem Lorot’s interview was so candid, I just had to go check out his work.  This is his blog, he’s posted a lot of poems there, and I only chose one that spoke to me.  Maybe you might find more that interest you.  Here is Meditations of a Father.

Meditations of a Father by Salem Lorot

Son, when I admonished you to curve a path for yourself

To create wonderful vistas of a world unexplored—

Beautiful, magnificent—

Was my voice harsh?

 

When I urged you to grow up to be a man of great learning

Learned in poetry, science, law, theology, philosophy, geology

Did I intimidate you, son?

Did you not grab the earnestness of my plea?

 

Son,  when I walk around and see you dull

Caged by the stifling thoughts of here and now

Do you think me happy

When I know that your mind can soar the skies

Wrestling with the ideas of man and the earth?

 

Am I too harsh to you, Son,

When in my unguarded moments of anger

I tell you that your dreams are too great

To be traded with the present sorrows and want?

 

When I lead you into the night

And point to you the majesty of the skies

Do you mistake me for a senile old man?

When I show you which stars shine brightest

Prodding you to take those stars to your sleep

Do I test your patience, son?

 

When I wake you up at dawn

So that we can watch the sunrise

Do you see me as a mean father?

Do you doubt  my sanity when I weep

Just by witnessing the birth of a new day?

 

Son, when I speak a lot about the flowers,

The stars, the moon, the oceans, the butterflies,

The rocky mountains, the sand dunes

Do you sometimes secretly wish

I would just stop and talk ‘normally’?

 

Son, am I harsh, when I let you in into the greatest secrets of the universe?

Do I bore you, Son?

Poetry Week Thoughts

This poem reminds me of my mother when I was growing up and now.  No matter what age I am, I always find myself seeking my mum out to see what she thinks of a certain situation.  If it’s too disturbing, I ask her, “Why would this happen, why would they do that?” Of course she might not know why, but I feel I have to ask that question because she’s my mother.  And the reason why I’ll ask her these questions even now is because she was always the person who knew the most when I was growing up.  She’d have the answer when I asked the questions.  Strange isn’t it.

Having that perspective of my own mother, I wonder just as Salem does in this  poem; if I was to get my own child, would I be able to become this person to him/her?  This assuring person with all the answers, would I fill that position easily or would I end up a bore, a nag, or seem annoying?  Which makes me wonder now, did my mother have the same questions when she had me and I started asking her questions?

This poem is very thought provoking isn’t it?  I love that it makes me wonder, as Salem does in his thoughts.

 

 

Poetry Week – Njau Njeru’s Demons of Her Love

I found this poem on the Kenya Poets Lounge Group on Facebook. It is written by Njau Njeru.  The only way to connect with him is through his facebook.  So, if you like the poem, and want to send him an encouraging word, please send him a message on  facebook or on the Poem link given below.

DEMONS OF HER LOVE by Njau Njeru

Forgive me love,
i wandered off to strange tits and
thighs and i lost my way home.
Your memories haunt me, broken
promises like dark shadows in my
soul.
today don’t fight me please, let me
say my piece, hear me out, i’m done
lying through my
teeth.
YOU and ME, we spoke of hopes and
dreams and what the world needs,
in bed we spoke of kids, you wanted
sons I wanted daughters,
we agreed on three but had a fight
over naming.
sometimes she cried, asked her
why she said she loved me so
much it was all scary for her.
she said our story would have a
fairy tale
ending,
our stars would align, you and me
would die old as dirt deep in love
like a bleeding fool i had to spoil a
good thing,
the forbidden fruit dangling on my
face and
i chunked it,
wandered off to strange lips and
hips never to find a way home.
bent you out of shape, tears to
headaches
nights on end,
you shut the world outside your
heart like an iron box on your rib
cage
my mistake like a stake through
my heart, I broke into a drinking
binge to feel numb.
you avoided me across the entire
digital and virtual spectrum,
the pain never stops, friends say
your tears
still fall,
today i mend fences, on bended
knee and
awkward social graces, i make my
plea
you have to know demons of your
love hang on my heart like bats,
in a purgatory of pain, your name a
hound of your spawn that plagues
me.
its a long shot but if you ever take
me back,
I‘ll love you till I‘m dry, start from
scratch and work my way up
sweet and dark love no one heals
from.
why won’t you look me in the
eyes, your lips they tremble
say something love …anything.

Poetry Week Thoughts:

I chose to share this poem because I love how raw it is.  There is no moment the poet minces words, instead he just lets it flow, stating his pain clearly, and the regret in his words makes the poem shine.  I love it when poems are written this way, because the emotion packed in the words paints such a clear picture, it’s easy to understand what the poet is saying.  Great Job Mr. Njeru.

 

Poetry Week – Maureen’s Obsession

Poetry Floweth! 

Here’s another poem that’s crossed my desk.  This one is by a fabulous lady who is an emerging entrepreneur.  Her name is Maureen and you can visit her blog to learn more about the struggle that is sustaining a business in Nairobi. She has great insight on how to face some of those struggles you meet when you’re running a business, or starting one, or even ending one.  Give it a check,  here’s the Blog.

Obsession by Maureen

It’s got me tripping,

Think I’m slipping,

This fixation,

So totally distracting,

No Relaxation,

Crazy how I’m reacting,

It’s all consuming,

I’m shaking,

So uncontrollable,

I’ve tried resuming,

But that seems unattainable,

It’s officially a mania,

My complete obsession,

Pales in contrast to Lawrence of Arabia,

It now has full Possession.

 

Poetry Week Thoughts:

This poem can describe anything you’re crazy about in life.  Be it books, writing in my case, love, business, a sport, your family, a vice,…the list goes on.  Is there something in your life that you just can’t stop?  This poem makes me think of that thing.

Poetry Week – Namatsi Lukoye’s I’m Not Yours to Fix

Today, this blog features, Namatsi Lukoye.  She’s a poet, writer and performs Spoken Word.

Here’s Namatsi Lukoye  by Namatsi:

I would love to call myself a fashion designer but I guess that name is reserved for people who know exactly what they are doing in that profession like Angie (my mum). I am an all round artist; I do basically anything I put my hands and heads on. That said I am an extremely talented copy cat… I can make anything that has a fabric and a stitch on it if I put my mind on it. I am also a spoken word poet and a writer, which gives me a split personality because when it comes to poetry… I write deep and recite with emotion. As for writing, I have had the honor of interviewing some of the highest achievers in my country.

I’m Not Yours to Fix by Namatsi Lukoye

There is nothing as terrible as living in a circle,
when all you want is a dark corner that you can comfortably hide and cry in
How do you live as an open book when every reader is a critic
Watching your every step and even when they don’t say it
You feel it…. the judgement in the eyes as they scroll one word to the next

(a feel of what’s coming in :- All that I am – Namatsi)

I am trapped in this circle;
What i really want well the heavens lied about it
So I am lost somewhere in paradise… confused
It is not as it was told…
The rivers are not clear… pure blood
The gates are not golden… iced tears
There is no music… Choir master rebelled!
And I miss everything,
Everything I once hated
Everything that I once believed in…
Even the silence between us
I miss the stench of our rotting corpses…
Even the worms crawling on top of us… I miss it all

I wish I should have listened to the voice inside… I am not yours to fix
I am not a mix that you need to solve with your tricks
Learn this… I am not yours to study or to feel sorry for
My life is not your politics, don’t pray for me or hope that I will change
Words floating to the sky don’t have a thing on me! That’s not my cage
I am not yours to worry about… so let me die in this drought
Tasteless sorry french kisses you give, what do you know about being a friend!
I stopped trying and learning how to pretend… am not good at it
Let’s be enemies, let’s kill these dark melodies
DIE! DIE! DIE!
I am not here for you to try correct
Let my pride be the end of me… because I will not listen to you
Let me live as I please, love as I want, and if the result is to burn… then let me burn
BURN! BURN! BURN!
Till the sky cries and the earth sings
Let me go to a road of finding me alone
I miss me every aspect of me! Even the drama queen who held a knife!

Mimi siwako wa kukosoa, kufunza wala kujaribu kuunda (**I’m not yours to correct, to teach, or to fix)
Usikose usingizi shida zangu ukijifanya watatua (**Don’t lose sleep pretending you’re fixing my problems)
I know that I am fragile but aren’t we all… so when I break into pieces
Stay away, I have elements of the devil himself I could cut you… or worse I could kill you!
And anyway, how you gonna help me with a knife in your hand
A log in your eye? And the rejoicing smile you do when you turn away!
I see you… beneath all your eeeish… I feel you
I am not yours to fix… I am not yours to fix! And never yours to save
Poetry has always done that, don’t try compete

This voice you killed… I want it back
I am tired of this space… of the light
I am not a defined script, I make my own way in this journey heading to death,
Death, that kind cruel friend who smiles at us all and takes us to rest,
Why is she misunderstood?
I am not afraid of her…
Anyway, till trees grow downwards and waterfalls make love to the sky
In times of misty doubt and clear joys,
I am on a trip to find me… and I don’t need your sympathy

**ellyinnairobi: translation

Poetry Week Thoughts:

There is nothing as terrible as living in a circle,
when all you want is a dark corner that you can comfortably hide and cry in
How do you live as an open book when every reader is a critic
Watching your every step and even when they don’t say it
You feel it…. the judgement in the eyes as they scroll one word to the next

There have been days when I feel like this, facing the world, your family and friends, your community, everyone has something to say about how you’re living, what you’re doing, what you say, and it can get heavy, burden you until you feel the best thing to do is runaway.  When I read this poem, it really spoke to me and the way Namatsi ends it, “>…I’m on a trip to find me...” that right there is the beauty of life and the goal we must all work toward if we’re to find happiness.

Poetry Week – Nakitare’s You Break My Heart

Poetry Week continues….

Today, we take a look at a poem by a man named Sammy Nakitare. I visited his blog through a page on Facebook, and found this lovely post.  Visit Sammy’s Blog and show him some love.  He has great talent with words.

 

 

You Break My Heart by Sammy Nakitare

You can make the clouds rain

You can send the sun away

Ain’t there a thing big for you?

At least you claim to know it all

Or so you say you’re my other god

You speak tiny truths snake

And I blindly believe all you say

You break my heart,

With all your lying.

 

You break my heart,

You leave me frying

You literally placed my life in a pan

Hot on fire toasting at your mercy

And you care not about my cries

I burn in rags as you wow in wealth

Cursed by the vote I cast

You break my heart

you leave me crying

 

Dreams so big than the skies can screen

Tears well my eyes thinking about’em

You break my heart

With all your dreaming

Yet I can never be where you are

Seems designed just for few

Who never cease to speak of trying

You break my heart

With all your trying

 

You piled power to make souls fight

Got great tide pulled to your side

You hypnotize the masses

With wise witty slogans

Wicked mathematician

You confuse numbers to your favor

Mister politician!

You break my heart

You leave me dying.

 

Poetry Week Thoughts:

These are powerful words put together to portray the status quo between the citizen and their leader.  Words given by the politicians are powerful and crashing at the same time. They can force the end, bring about change, or just plain unrest among the citizens who put all their faith in the politician.  It is a dangerous cycle, and I love this poem for putting it in such a profound manner.

Poetry Week – Ask My Shoes by H_ART the Band

H_ART the Band H_ART the Band
This charming group kicks off our Poetry Week with a song called Uliza Kiatu(Ask My Shoes).  The best part of this song is the play on words, it makes you smile, chuckle and laugh, so effortlessly, that by the end of the song, you want to hit repeat and listen again.
The lyrics are a lament by a man of the struggles he faces dating a young woman who expects the best, and so much more than he can afford.  Yet he does those impossible things, while he faces challenges unknown to her. Love makes you do crazy things. Here’s a look at the lyrics from H_ART the Band’s Uliza Kiatu. Courtesy of Kasablanker
Verse 1
 
Why is love, makes you do crazy things
Ask my shoes, uliza kiatu
And what I went through to buy you those rings
Ask my shoes, uliza kiatu
Masaibu ninayoyapitia, kukupeleka dinner
Uliza kiatu
Na gatheri ninavyokatafuna, eti ndo ukule burger, pizza
Uliza kiatu
Chorus
Ask my shoes, ask my shoes
Uliza kiatu, uliza kiatu
Verse 2
Nimekopa nikupe, kumbe wewe ndo kupe
Nang’ang’ana ndo tule, juhudi zangu bure
I heard that love should always make us strong
But how I feel like think that they were wrong
Ask me why
Bridge
Nasema taxi nilipe, rent mi nikupe
Nywele zisongwe Mombasa si twende
Mapenzi nikupe, mpaka we uridhike
Nasema taxi nilipe, rent mi nikupe
Nywele zisongwe Mombasa si twende
Mapenzi nikupe, mpaka we uridhike
Chorus
Ask my shoes, ask my shoes
Uliza kiatu, uliza kiatu
Ask my shoes, ask my shoes
Uliza kiatu, uliza kiatu
Spoken Word
Kitendawili, kitendawili [tega]
Nilimwonyesha mapenzi akanionyesha mfuko
Alisema doh ya salon ni thao tu
Na kwa mfuko nilikuwa na mbao juu
Alisema anaenda PE
Akirudi nilimpata akimeza P2
[alikutega]
So niko stuck katikati
Kama stick ya mshikaki
Nampenda huyu mshikaji
But kiatu tu ndo inajua stori
Yaani vile, mi humchocha nimemflash bahati mbaya
Ju niko na deni ya bob, Collymore
Yaani vile mi hukanyanga matope kabla nifike kwa lami
Na ile stress mi hupitia kabla nimbongeshe kilami
Yaani vile, mi humpandisha taxi
Then naenda kudandia gari ya moshi
Yaani vile, mi humhustlia hadi kiatu yangu inaanza kutoa moshi
Yaani vile, mi humuita baby
Juu najua nikimuita Njeri
Hiyo r inaeza geuka l
Na hiyo moment naeza kuwa nimeispoil
Yaani vile, nimetarmac hadi
Timber yangu inaeza geuka Sunder
Yaani vile, yaani ka ni kukokwa nimekopa
Yaani ka nikuokoka nimeokoka
Yaani ka ni tisa nimepigana tu
Ndo niivishe hiyo figure yake namba nane
Na hata usiku nipate umenichorea nane
Toa moja, saba
Vile nimesag mpaka toja
Nikamdanganya eti mi naishingi Umoja
Nikwamwonyesha mpaka mi si mwana vi-oja
Eti nawork mahakamani kusolve vitimbi za dunia
Bila shaka mashtaka
Yaani vile hata vile dunia ikasimama tutasimama pamoja
Yaani vile, ka mapenzi ni nywele basi we ulinisetia nati
Yaani vile ka mapenzi ni kikohozi
Basi bila shaka niko na TB, niko na fever juu ananiumiza
Yaani vile, ka mapenzi ni mistari
Basi namwandikia sentensi
Matenzi mpenzi nakuenzi vishenzi
Niko chizi, crazy
Mwizi, wa mapenzi
Nifunge, am guilty
Here to testify
Chorus
Ask my shoes, ask my shoes
Uliza kiatu, uliza kiatu
Ask my shoes, ask my shoes
Uliza kiatu, uliza kiatu
Listen to this song here: Youtube Link –  Uliza Kiatu/ (Ask My Shoes) 
I discovered H_ART the Band through an appearance on a local television station.  They were doing a live performance and it was hard not to stop and listen.  They’re energetic, and engaging.  I love guitars and the band plays very well, which is always a plus for me.  They’re going far, and I hope to hear more from them as we go.
Follow them below to get news on their latest events:
Twitter: @H_ARTTHEBAND
Like their Facebook Page: Hart the Band

Poetry Week – Reflection

Angelou_A

Dr. Maya Angelou – An Inspiring Woman

Last week, one of the greatest Poet, Dr. Maya Angelou, passed on and it had me reaching for her works.  Reading back on the many great words she’s shared with the world.  Cataloging lessons learned in her life, and thought provoking poems that make us pause.  She’s taught and inspired generations, changed perception and inspired courage with words, she shared her experiences through her poems, giving courage to many. Below is one of her most famous poems:

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise

I love this poem because it is a powerful affirmation, no matter what or whom you meet in life.   Those things you or I are angelou2facing now, those terrible things, or wonderful things, those difficult or easy people you meet, if you believe in yourself and stand strong, you’ll rise.  For these powerful words, I thank Dr. Maya Angelou for sharing them with us.

Poetry is one of the most inspiring forms of art there can be.  A few words, arranged in stanzas can hold powerful messages that will inspire you, call up an emotion inside you that even you didn’t realize you had.  Poets often describe a situation, a feeling, an experience in such a way that you have no choice but to agree, or disagree, or find an urge to discover if that description fits that moment.

On this note, this coming week, this blog of mine will feature some poems from a few of Kenya’s Poets.  Most of whom have become musicians, changing our small world with their courageous words.  I love music, and a good song is one that reaches the soul, so explore with me.