SONGSOPTOK: Why literature or poetry in specific interests you so much?
 BERNARD OWOR :  Well to best answer your question I must elaborate what poetry is or rather what poetry means to me, poetry is my passion, my talent and I believe my God given gift, it is me doing what I love to do best. It is my comfort zone, my safe zone, and my sanctuary away from the harsh realities of life. When I embraced poetry fully it was like being reborn, it an awakening, my concepts and outlook in life changed for the better. Let me describe what a poem is in my own words………
 “A poem is a painting of words with a brush of emotions and its beauty lies not in the artistry of its words but in the inspiration roused from reading those words.”
 Thus poetry to me is a grand philosophy of wisdom and enlightenment that draws me towards the light.

SONGSOPTOK: How do you relate your own self existence with your literary life in one hand, and the time around you, in the other.
 BERNARD OWOR: I believe all human existence on earth must have a reason to exist, must have a purpose in life. My self-existence and as you call it literary life are merged, intertwined into a single entity. All depended upon the other so that one is basically incomplete without the other. My purpose in life is to touch, inspire, encourage, uplift, motivate, educate and in a way entertain people lives through poetry …as noble as it sounds it’s not the easiest of tasks to make people listen to you, or to get your works reach as many people as you can and it is even harder to try and make a living out of it!

SONGSOPTOK: Do you believe creative souls flourish more in turmoil than in peace?
 BERNARD OWOR: As sad as it sounds I believe this much is true! When artistic and creative souls especially poets are going through hard times they seem to be more perceptive or if you please more attuned to energy patterns that boost their creativity or their ability to capture  human emotions turn them into work of arts like poems or paintings Under emotional distress a poet can literally put the emotion on paper through writing or under the same emotional distress a poet might envision a happy place to escape his anguish and with that write about that happy place such that when someone else going through difficulties reads such a poem he or she gets uplifted in spirits. I can personally testify to this for one time I was undergoing depression it was a moment in time when I was going through personal problems, I had also taken to drinking and I was at my lowest ebb yet some of my best poetic pieces were written at that time thus my belief that creative souls flourish more in turmoil than in peace.

 SONGSOPTOK: Please give us some idea about African literature in general.
 BERNARD OWOR: African literature has a more traditional and in-depth approach to life, focusing on naïve minds battling the vices and corruptions of a new and fast changing world. Many a times it had been used to awaken the people against tyranny of political regimes thus most African writers and poets ended up in exile for fear of arrest and persecution. Presently very few writers or poets stick to cultural or traditional values because so much has changed people are no longer living in the colonial era of fear and suppression. The plights and tribulation often portrayed in literature works have taken new modern forms thus poets or writers who do not accept and adapt to these changes get lost in the wind so to speak. African literature is a very broad subject rich with ancient wisdom and spiritual teachings but this divine hand print is slowly fading into oblivion swallowed whole by the ways of this world.

My take on African literature is that it is like an untapped natural energy resource true to the metaphor! Many great literary minds in Africa often live and die unknown and their works never receiving the credit they deserve. Not forgetting it is next to impossible trying to eke a living out of arts and literature. So many people are struggling with life to appreciate the beauty of literature especially poetry. Thus many poets abandon ship and sacrifice their talents and passion for something else so as to survive. Don’t get me wrong we have several literary icons who have made it and its ironic many in this category either relocated of are in exile in western countries and were able to get recognition from their adopted country instead of their mother country. So with that you can clearly see the picture am trying to paint of African literature

SONGSOPTOK: How do you feel to write in an adapted language like English?
 BERNARD OWOR: Am a Kenyan and Kenya was colonized by the British thus English
Is a national language here the other one is Swahili. That’s right we have two national languages. Ever since kindergarten English has been indoctrinated in our system our schools almost in everything so as absurd as it sounds my generation don’t see English as an adapted language it is part and parcel of people here so to be honest it has helped me greatly to be fluent and articulate in an international language. Indeed am more conversant in English than I am in my mother tongue and Swahili because that was how I was bought up my father was educated and worked as a custom officer and our household was of a modern setting rather than traditional I was born and raised in the capital city Nairobi. So all this factors affected me to be more resourceful in English. Thus all my writings and poetic works are in English and it simply feels like normal to me like I was born an Englishman    

SONGSOPTOK: What are the challenges one has to face to switch over in a foreign language for his literary work?
 BERNARD OWOR: Like I have stated above to some of us it is not switching over to a foreign language because it is not a foreign language to us but instead it is a national language and so our use of it is a natural transition rather than a challenge.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think in this age of information and technology the dimensions of literature has largely been extended beyond our preconceived ideas about literature in general?
 BERNARD OWOR: Yes I completely concur with this concept and to support this… if it were not for information and technology you and I would not be having this conversation would we? Most of my audience if not all, who are able to read and appreciate my works are in the social media to be more specific Facebook and through my blogs on wordpress and tumblr and through tweeter and pinterest. I have not published any book; my literary works evidently and undoubtedly depend on the social media for exposure. It is through the social media that my works have started to get recognition, it is also where I interact with my fans and followers and where I am able to share and exchange ideas with fellow poets across the globe indeed the social media and the internet as a whole is a powerful tool that present us writers with a wider audience and offers us a chance to sell ourselves to the world with this you can say this age of information and technology the dimensions has largely been extended beyond our preconceived ideas about literature in general and to wrap it all up thanks to information and technology I am having this interview at the comfort of my home using my laptop need I say more?   

SONSOPTOK: Now in this changing scenario we would like to know from your own life experiences as a poet, writer and a creative soul; how do you respond to this present time?
 BERNARD OWOR: My response to these present times in regards to my poetry and literary works is one of acceptance and gratitude. I welcome with open arms advancements and the changes that have been put in place through information and technology truthfully speaking the world would have never known I exist or my works would have never seen the light of day if it were not for the internet and social media. I post my works to over 40 poetry pages on Facebook, I share my works through tweeter and Google plus and also on my blogs as I mentioned earlier and these social media platforms have enabled me to expose my works, get instant responses and criticism they have enabled me to read other poets works and like I mentioned earlier I have been able to interact with so many people poets and readers I have been asked several times by so many if I have already published a book! This is very encouraging to know that my works are reaching people and touching people’s lives thus this experience has prompted me to embrace the present time.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you believe all writers are by and large the product of their nationality?
 BERNARD OWOR:  No I don’t believe so to me all writers are a product of how they come across or how they portray themselves. Many a times readers assume am of a western nationality instead of African this is mostly because all my works are in English and secondly my themes are of human emotions and human experiences which all can relate whether African or otherwise. My works are not influenced at all by my nationality or tradition or culture or religion I try to in cooperate ideas and philosophies that will touch each and every one regardless of the race and color or creed. 

 SONGSOPTOK:  And what are the factors which pay dividends and which become obstacles for your ultimate growth as an international writer even beyond your time?
 BERNARD OWOR:   Well the only dividend I have been able to get so far is exposure to a w ide if not a wider audience every day I reach more and more people, every day am touching more and more lives from different parts of the globe just the other day a lady from Kuwait wrote to me saying that I am her mentor and idol and so often I get people messaging me asking if I have published a book they can buy and with that type of support and encouragement coming from all over the globe from readers and very close friends who I have met through poetry I have started to write a book. All this has enabled me to grow spiritually and to grow as a writer and the greatest of difficulty I face is getting published! Publishers want to publish works of renown poets or writers  most of us struggling to make a name for ourselves the new generation of poets are somehow overlooked and it does not help that am from Africa the condition are even worse.  So I use the internet through social media and my blogs to show case my works and knowing it’s just a matter of time before I will be able to create poetic shockwaves across the globe. But until then the struggle continues………………….

SONGSOPTOK: We would like to know the factors and the peoples who have influenced you immensely in the growing phase of your literary life.
 BERNARD OWOR: First and foremost is my passion for poetry and my desire to transform people’s lives for the better. Secondly my wife is a source of strength and inspiration to me. Without her loving support and encouragement especially at times when my efforts seem hopeless I would not have reached this far with my literary endeavors. Thirdly the overwhelming response I have received from getting my work out there through the social media. The advice, the teachings and the criticism, not forgetting the support and encouragement from poets and close friends and readers in the poetic community has been paramount in the growth of my literary works. Pages, blogs and sites like http://songsoptokkblogblogspot.in www.ourpoetrycorner.wordpress.com,  www.poetrbits.com, www.kenyanpoetslounge.com, www.poetry.com Have play a big role in my poetic journey and growth and through them my poetic awareness, outlook and outreach has developed and grown for the better.  I am not the type who dwells on mentorship and Idolism so I can honestly say I am my own mentor thus I influence myself immensely through meditation and in depth solitude to absorb positive energies that get characterized in my works thus enabling me grow stronger and wiser in all phases and aspects of my literary life

SONGSOPTOK: How do you evaluate your contemporaries and what are your aspirations from the younger generation?
 BERNARD OWOR:  My evaluation of my contemporaries including myself is that we find ourselves entrapped by the struggles of everyday life that we often forget to live, most of us abandon our dreams and are forced into an existence of chasing around our own tails dreaming our lives away instead of living our dreams it is in this state which I call modern slavery that I intend to use poetry and literature to free my peers and I to set us free from this shackles to fly like birds into the sky. I have many aspirations for the younger generations and the most important one is not to develop a materialistic attitude towards life but instead have a more knowledgeable understanding to the ways of this world and with that they can be in a position not to be consumed by the moral decay we see today and this may also make them better equipped to fight addictions that destroy many youths of today’s generation.  

 SONGSOPTOK: Humanity has suffered immensely in past, is still suffering around the world. We all know it well. But are you hopeful about our future?
 BERNARD OWOR:  Of course I have hope for better days and for a bright future. Where can humanity be if people lose hope? If I should quote myself………….

 “Desolation awaits the hearts of those who have no hope in the future”
By Bernard Owor.

Indeed I believe the future holds a great promise and some of my poetic works can attest to that. Part of my philosophy is to inspire hope through poetry.

SONGSOPTOK: What role can litetature in general play to bring a better day for every human being? In your own words!
 BERNARD OWOR: Literature can play a great and integral part in bringing better days to every human being. Literature especially poetry can be used as a tool to inspire to motivate to encourage to educate to entertain and if all this are channeled correctly they certainly have the power to bring about better days. Poetry and literature are arts that can draw people to a path of light and great wisdom, with wisdom comes great understanding and that by itself promotes a peaceful coexistence. Poets have a chance to be instruments of light to eradicate the darkness that engulf some parts of this world. I believe that poetry is a power that if harnessed properly can be used as a force of good to fight the many evils that plague our world. What can be greater than changing the world for the better?

1 comment:

  1. Great interview dear Bernard Owor Sir. My salutation to you for the same.


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