Jason Ntaro is a spoken word poet like no other. His voice can turn any sleepy poem into a waterfall of emotions . Into a roar of convictions. He treats his poems like a musical masterpiece, adding nuances and inflections that expose the heart of the poem. And perhaps his own heart. He is holding a show on 17th November at 7pm at JMK Gardens in Muyenga behind IHK hospital. We caught up with him for a sneak peak and perhaps a private performance
Have you always wanted to be a poet ?
No! When I was younger, I used to want to be an archaeologist. I actually have a stone collection from places I’ve visited. I was used to think that being a spy or an assassin would be one hell of a job. But then I grew up.
Apart from yourself , who is your favorite Ugandan writer ?
Eh! Am I my favorite Ugandan writer? Also, to zero down to one writer would be a lie. All have something they give. There is this silent man called Bwogere Dennis. His writing is dark. It’s eerie. The language and formation of his poems suck you in.
There is also this young guy, Agaba Ivan AKA Zombie the Poet. Very clever with his lines.
Then there is Gloria Kiconco. She takes you on a journey with her words. She has a perfect stage presence and in my opinion has perfected being one with the poem and the crowd!
Gloria and Zombie will be featured at Another Poetry Show so you can get a taste of what I mean!
What sort of poetry do you write ?
EVERYTHING. I believe poetry is expression of self and self is never about one thing. I’ve written about love, lust, food, drink, social life, work life, life, death… It goes on.
What sort of performance should we expect for this show of yours ?
Even I don’t know what to expect.
Will it be a monthly show or weekly ?
Another Poetry Night will not be weekly and neither will it be monthly. It will be four times a year. I believe that time must be put in before anything comes out. This is a 1hr 30min show where I am the headlining act so I need to capture each poems spirit and be able to present it for what it is.
When you are on stage you look so confident and in control. How do you do it ? Whats the secret ? Most poets seem to be in a rush to run off
HA! Calm waters run deep.
When I tell people I get nervous, they laugh at me;
“All these years and you still get nervous?” they ask.
Inside my soul I am dyyyyyyying. Truth be told, I get nervous in big groups of people. On stage where all eyes are on me, it’s worse. There are alarm lights and sounds wailing and flashing inside my brain,people in my brain frantically running about confused at what is happening, CHAOS!!!.. Or so I imagine is happening up in there.
Before I get on stage I step away from the crowd and breath. I go through the poem while listening to music to calm down. On stage I focus on the poem. I close everything off and be the poem.
If your poems were fruits , which family of fruits would they be ? What sort of juice would they make ?
Never in my life have I ever imagined such a question! Bless you.
I’ve written and deleted responses to this.
Hmmm. Some are like pineapples. Sweet but there is that sting to the tongue. Others… This is a very hard question. My education didn’t prepare me for such a boomerang shackle question.
We hear people saying they are spoken word artists . What is the difference between spoken word and poetry or is that just a way to make money out of us ?
Here we fight, friends and I. I don’t know what the difference is. I’ve watched people that claim not to do spoken word but poetry and vice versa. However, they all seem alike.
What inspires you to write poetry day after day ?
Ah Really!! That’s so sweet !! Now give us the real answer , what inspires you to write poetry ?
Anyway, it’s a mixture of things. Experiences, stories from other people, things I watch and listen to. Poetry is a way of bringing to light the things that lay within us.
My first poem 3 years 2 months 5 days is a poem on domestic violence that I wrote after a friend passed on from an abusive relationship.
What I feel, see, hear I write. This is why it gets hard and takes longer for me to write themed poetry.
Imagine a world famous artist called you up to do a duet with them , excluding Juliana , who would you want to make that call on ?
SAUL WILLIAMS!!! That guy. Just even stop there. He is too much. Inspiration! I remember the first time I heard his poetry. A friend of mine, Daniel Nuwamanya, insisted that I needed to listen to him I’ve never stopped!
I had the rare honour of meeting him in Kigali during Spoken Word Rwanda, a poetry platform in Kigali. I SHOOK SAUL WILLIAMS HAND AND WE SPOKE!!! Yes, this is a star struck moment. Let me have it.
Another poet would be Ursula Rucker who has also inspired my writing grandly. Her poem “Humbled” takes me on a trip all the time. The first time I heard her was from my brother, Moses Sabiiti. He runs a studio where I have recorded some poetry and still working on a project with. He had her album “Silver or Lead” which inspired my poem Scalene.
Linton Kwesi Johnson, introduced to me by a close friend of mine, Ojakol Raymond. Linton Kwesi Johnson is a UK-based Jamaican-British dub poet. My favorite of his poems is Two sides of silence. Listen/read it. You will understand.
Wait. Did you say “a” world famous poet? In secondary school they told us to give as much information and beyond.