Poetry is therapeutic, muses Urbain Gilles Sugira as he soaks in the attention that his self-published book of poems Daunting Confesssions, has brought him.
“It could be an approach or discussion to circumstances you can’t use the normal words with,” he explains.
“If something is challenging me, making me sad, happy or difficult to understand, I use poetry to express it.”
But it is a rare journey Sugira is embarking on, seeing as publishing is not a vibrant sector in Rwanda – that honour goes digital and online media like audio-visual – so much so that book launches remain an oddity.
Daunting Confesssions comprises 120 short poems in English, French, and Ikinyarwanda spread over 160 pages.
The book is divided into four broad themes: Love, life, religion, and Rwanda’s rebirth following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.
“Confesssions’ is deliberately misspelt – with an extra s – to emphasise the word while paying homage to the writer’s style.
Subira credits Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, especially his work in a secondary school book titled A Shuttle in the Crypt, with his love for poetry. The book, with its numerous metaphors piqued his interest in poetry and many are the terms he would visit his teacher for help.
“I also read more poetry works by other writers, which improved my writing,” he explains.
In 2016, Sugira attended Spoken Word Rwanda, a monthly live poetry performance event. While he considers it an amateur act, what with his poor skills in stage delivery and performance, Spoken Word gave him the much needed exposure.
Come 2019, and having completed studies at St. Vincent Minor Seminary in Ndera, Kigali, Sugira turned to social media, writing and transforming his poetry into audio-visual content, which gave him an audience and feedback.
Sugira started writing in 2014 but he is proud of his move into publishing. “I wanted to challenge myself into exploring the new field, then inspire more aspiring acts,” he says, adding that he believes there are many poets out there, whose works haven’t been explored, since they are hidden, and have never published.
The journey into self-publishing was not easy. His search for a suitable publisher in Rwanda took longer than he expected since the few he met only offered co-publishing, meaning he had to foot part of the costs.
“I was told to pay between Rwf4 million and Rwf6 million, which I could not raise,” he explains.
After three months of fruitless search, Sugira, who was born 20 years ago in Nyamirambo in Nyarugenge district in Kigali, took up self-publishing – a venture he finds exciting.
He started with Rwf300,000 and released a few copies last month. He has gone further and deployed social media platforms, publicising the book and distributing to individual clients in Kigali for Rfw12,000 a copy.
“Delivering it to a client helps me create a straight forward relation,” he explains. Sugira, who is currently pursuing an online course in Digital Business and Data Science, further admits how this has further exposed and placed him into learning something about the distribution line.
Daunting Confesssions is also available online on Amazon.