NICK-6050-1024x682Nick Makoha’s work is one of those rare discoveries you make with a sigh of relief, knowing that poetry is still alive and well in the contemporary African literary scene.

The London-based Ugandan poet is the second winner of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize. He won alongside Safia Elhillo, whose wildly experimental poem was recently posted here on Brittle Paper to the acclaim of our readers.  [Click HERE if you missed it.]

“Kingdom of Gravity” is one of three poems that won Makoha the Brunel poetry prize. The poem explores themes of history, melancholy, and desire. I love it for being deeply evocative without being over-written.

Congrats to Makoha!


“The Kingdom of Gravity”

We are not Alexander, who conquered worlds
giving them new tongues. But we share the story
of a ship resting on an African river, unbuckling
at its shore, awakened by the nights cold hard rain,
staring at the face of the Nile as it reminds you.

You are a hawk silent in the voice of a midnight universe 

What makes a man name a city after himself;
asking bricks to be bones, asking the wind
to breathe like the lungs of the night,
asking the night to come closer, to speak
to  you as a tribe, asking the tribe to sleep,
asking sleep to loosen its language, asking
language to dream. Come close to me.

Can you not see that I am in search of fire?
The unshapen song of light. In my mouth
is a name hovering like smoke, spoken to me
by the oracle. Like others, I was in search
of a forest, a place to call home.

But what can I tell you about Kingdom,
about having the world at your feet?
When you have seen all the earth’s boundary,
you will crave for mirrors searching for them in streams,
and when the river looks back at you
how will you be sure that nothing is lost?


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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

2 Responses to “The Kingdom of Gravity | The Poem That Made Nick Makoha Africa’s Award Winning Poet” Subscribe

  1. Amatesiro Dore 2015/09/10 at 11:51 am #

    l love this. I had to post a comment when I met none.

  2. Ainehi Edoro 2015/09/10 at 4:05 pm #

    Thanks Ama! We love Nick’s work.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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