Ugandan poet Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva has published a new collection of poetry titled Dress Me in Disobedience. It was published by the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation on January 26, 2022.
Nsengiyunva is a poet, public speaker, and the the founder of Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, a platform that supports African poetry. Dress Me in Disobedience is her second poetry collection. The 41 poems covers a wide range of subjects that includes friendship, the ups and downs of love, children, the church, politics, endings and beginnings, and self-love. Some of the poems are humorous commentary on relationships and society, while others are deeply personal and touching.
In the section titled “Places I’ve Been,” Nsengiyunva hints at the larger political and cultural considerations that shape private and individual experience of place. The section contains encounters, experiences, and tourism in Africa, Europe, and North America. The poem titled “Mexico,” for instance, critiques the culture of tourism in a tongue-in-cheek way. The speaker describes how “it feels good” to do some of the things tourist often do when visiting African countries: visiting popular and overcrowded monuments, buying overpriced “cultural” goods for souvenirs, and taking pictures with random children. While the poem pokes fun at some of these habits of tourism, it also makes the reader think about the effects of tourism on the locals.
The Ghanaian-Jamaican-American poet Kwame Dawes praises the collection for the ways it centers women’s experiences:
Beverly Nambozo Nsegiyunva writes her poems with a daring, risk-taking, cutting, and witty sense of defiance against those structures that constrain women and their capacity to find pleasure, dignity, creative expression, economic security, and authority in a patriarchal world. The poems reveal a woman intensely aware of her body as it makes its way through a hostile world.
In the book’s introductory remarks, Nsengiyunva notes that the poems come out of years of reflection on her own life, choices she made and losses she experienced. In the end, the collection comes together around the question of resisting limits. It represents her own attempt to push boundaries, or, rather, dress in disobedience, gave her more room to live fully.
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