The lovely Geosi interviewed me for his book blog here.

Interview with 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize Shortlisted Writer

Photo: Hope Wabuke

Brief Biography:

Born in exile to Ugandan refugees, Hope Wabuke is now a writer based in Southern California. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The North American Review, Kalyani Magazine, Fjords Literary Journal, Potluck Magazine, Ruminate Magazine, Salamander Journal, Literary Mama, Weave Magazine, Cease Cows, Split This Rock and Joint Literary. Her essays and criticism have been featured in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon, Gawker, The Root, Ms. Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, The Feminist Wire, Ozy, The Hairpin and The Daily Beast. Hope reviews books for the Kirkus Reviews and has won fellowships from The New York Times, Voices of Our Nations Foundation (VONA), and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women Writers. She holds degrees from Northwestern University and New York University. Hope is currently the media director for the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction. Follow her on Twitter @HopeWabuke.

Geosi Gyasi: Could we start with your poem, “Leviticus”? How did you come to write it? 

Hope Wabuke: When I became pregnant with my baby boy, I began to think a lot about my personal and cultural history. I thought a lot about my parents, my grandparents–what it must have been like to be live through genocide, trying to keep your family safe. I began to remember things–some I think I had been told, some I don’t think I could possibly have known. When I talked to my mother, afterward, she said she hadn’t told them to me. Nor, of course, had my father. It was all very interesting to me, very pressing to understand. Scientists have proven that, when women are pregnant, the baby’s cells migrate into the mother’s blood, body and brain, and vice versa of course, permanently changing our bodies and psychology. So my mother’s experiences and unsaid memories were held inside me; my son’s as well. Mine inside him. It was then that I began to write the poems that form my current poetry manuscript, The Body Family, of which “Leviticus” is one. These poems explore my family’s escape from Idi Amin’s Ugandan genocide and the aftermath of healing in America. In it, I reclaim my womanhood, culture, and spirituality from a legacy of violence.

Read the rest of the interview here.