‘Even the night took sides.’- Review of Kingdom of Gravity by Nick Makoha

Posted 1 Feb 2019 by Writing Squad in Writing Squad Reviews

Kingdom of Gravity"In early November Jay rang me up for our semi regularly scheduled poetry recommendation calls. ‘You have to read Kingdom of Gravity!’ he urged me, ‘Let me just read you a few lines and you can make the call then.’ So, he flicked to a random poem and read the following lines,

‘When the hills were on fire,

There were no angels to guide us.

Only the equator was able to divide

The land equally. Even the night took sides.’

Even the night took sides?! EVEN THE NIGHT TOOK SIDES! That line convinced me to buy Nick Makoha’s debut poetry collection, which I have not been able to put down for three months. Kingdom of Gravity does more than make music from the ruins of Ugandan politics and history but speaks to a peoples unbound by simple borders. Makoha somehow becomes a mouthpiece for the dead, the forgotten, the survivors and those who find themselves in ‘a country where they do not know your name.’

It is almost cinematic in the way it manages to weave together narratives from such diverse perspectives evoking a world somewhere between nightmare and reality. Bordering lyric, prose and in some ways oral history, Makoha somehow creates a collection that could easily sit in an archive somewhere the way it deals with topics of authoritarianism, humanity and mortality in Ugandan politics. These are the testimonies of soldiers, priests, politicians, children and in some ways the very earth itself.

"These are the testimonies of soldiers, priests, politicians, children and in some ways the very earth itself"

As a product of the Ethiopian diaspora, Kingdom of Gravity send me crashing back down to the soil I was uprooted from with the force of its vivid imagery and emotive language. But it’s not even its technicality that is so impressive but its ability to capture those tense moments that can rarely be described in words. Kingdom of Gravity is the silence of memory, the one hushed by a generation of AK47s, those lost moments when languages fly around the room just out of reach. It’s that feeling I get when the wheels hit the tarmac at Bole airport. It’s the place we never got to call home.

"Kingdom of Gravity is the silence of memory, the one hushed by a generation of AK47s"

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Fahad Al-AmoudiFahad al-Ahmoudi is a Spoken Word Poet studying History at Durham University. He has performed at venues across the UK and Ethiopia and is currently the captain of the Durham University Slam Team. He is also the lead writer and vocalist for a spoken word band called The Poetry Experiment.

https://www.facebook.com/thepoetryexperiment/

@freeformfahad and @thepoetryexperiment

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