Gladys Chaiga lives and breathes poetry

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What made you want to do poetry?
There was no particular inspiration other than discovering during my life that I am a poet. I didn’t learn it at school but it was something innate. I started writing poems before I even knew they were poems in elementary school and O level.
What was your first salary?
Hmmm! My professional journey began with unpaid volunteering. After a few years, I was given 250,000 Shs per month.
Are you going out? If yes, where?
Omg, I don’t have a particular place! I enjoy spending time with friends more than anything else. This includes an evening walk, meeting at one of our homes or at certain poetry events.
What are some of your hobbies?
Thinking of poetry ideas or writing a poem when inspired, watching movies, reading novels or books.
What is your favourite drink?
Dawa tea, any day, anytime works wonders. And, fresh juice without sugar.
What is your favorite food?
Nothing special, but I love the fish pâté with rice and/or the beef pâté with millet bread (kalo). They are finger-licking delicious.
What book are you reading?
Decolonize the mind; The Politics of Language in African Literature by Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
How many poems have you written?
I wrote 30 poems inspired by different subjects.
Have any of your works ever been rejected?
Certainly, it is part of the process.
Who are your favorite poets?
In Uganda, Carolyn Afroetry and Jason Ntaro. And on the world stage, Maya Angelou wins, followed by Preston Perry and Jackie Hill Perry.
Has any of your work had an impact on people?
Yes, my kind of poetry is what I would describe as art for a cause. I am prone to the societal issues people are going through.

The bustle of Gladys Chaiga, aka The Midnight Owl.

I have done articles on teenage pregnancy, Covid-19, domestic violence, climate change and mental health, among others.
How do you develop a poem?
First of all, I need to know what subject I’m writing about. I research it and identify a writing angle.
I often write from a very quiet place to concentrate.
My first draft goes through three to five revisions before I can publish it.

What are your milestones so far?
I was second runner up at East Africa Battle 2022 in Kisumu. I was among the top 10 poets for the Covid-19 Poetry and Storytelling Contests 2021. My work has featured in different poetry resources.
It was a journey of growth and opportunity.
The first thing you do when you wake up…?
I pray.
Who was your first best friend?
Best friend issues, I can’t remember my first best friend.
One of my best friends was Anthony Rubangakene, with whom I attended the same primary school.

As long as we’re alive, there’s hope for another brighter day. Hope is for those who are alive, so don’t give up.

The first poem you read… Song of Lawino by Okot p’Bitek that I read for fun because we had talked about it a lot and I’m happy about it.

Your favorite poem is…? The price of my innocence by me. These are teenage marriages at the hands of the girls’ family. It breaks my heart every time I read it. I feel the pain of this vice.
If you hadn’t been a poet, what would you be? Maybe a painter or a musician.

What puts you off? Dishonesty and harming others.


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