Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Life of a Poet~Salem Lorot, Poet of Kenya

Interview by Sherry Blue Sky



Oh, I have a treat for you today, kids! We are sitting down with Salem Lorot,  poet of Kenya, whose blog is  Lorot’s Poetry . When I happened upon this young poet’s site, I was blown away by the lyricism of his writing, and his passion for issues of social justice. Also, he lives in Africa, beloved land of my dreams. In our communications, I sensed a very big story. So pour a cup of tea, and get comfy. We are going to make a trip to Africa,  to a very amazing young man, and to a way of life that calls to our ancestral beginnings.

Poets United: Lorot, please tell us a little about yourself.  Our membership is spread around the world, and I know many of us have a fascination with Africa, a land of such beauty, as well as difficulties.   Can you tell us a little about yourself, so our members can get to know you better? We’d love to know  what life is and has been like for you.

[Kacheliba Mountain, from flickr.com]
Salem: My name is Salem Lorot from Kenya. I was born and raised on the plains of Kacheliba—a beautiful land inhabited by Pokot pastoralists. That is where I learnt the ways of nomadism, and came to appreciate the simple ways of life. I schooled there in my Primary and Secondary years. I completed my Law Degree last year at the university in Nairobi, and currently I am pursuing a post-graduate diploma in law. I have always been fascinated by rural life, and most of the time while I am away in the rush of the city I draw parallels, and find myself mostly inclined to the Kacheliba Hill, the  River Suam, the goats and cows.

Poets United: Wow, what a fascinating way of life.  Close to the earth and its rhythms. The city must be a big change. Salem, it is not every boy from a village who has the opportunity to attend university. Is there a story there?
Salem: Yes, I was fortunate to get a sponsor for my university education. I owe a lot of gratitude to God and her for this.

Poets United: How wonderful!  How many people and/or critters do you share space with?
Salem:  At home, my two brothers and I share a bed. We are privileged to sleep on mattress. However, when I go visiting deep into the village, I am usually allocated a mud bed, a cow hide and a shuka (this is the equivalent of a light bed-sheet). Due to lifestyles of the Pokots, most prefer to sleep outside in the compound near a bonfire. They call this aperit. I am neither married nor do I have children. When the day beckons, I will for sure.

[Salem in front of a granary in his home village. The granary stores such things
as maize, sorghum and other cereals after the harvest.]

Poets United: When did you begin writing? You have a very big talent. Did you write as a child? Did you have a special teacher or some adult who believed in you and encouraged you?

Salem:  Let me first confess that I didn’t have much of an opportunity of nurturing my talent in my formative years. Here’s a boy growing up in a rural area, being introduced to a whole new world. He struggles with the basics of alphabet, spellings, pronunciation—the whole kit and caboodle. He is a victim of circumstances. But let me be quick to add that I was privileged that amidst all this, I came to love and appreciate English and Kiswahili language. The most memorable piece of writing I did was a Kiswahili composition. It was about our class teacher. I remember painting the scene of the teacher beating up one of my colleagues . It was so vivid that I established a somewhat hero status in the school. Let me say that as a child I didn’t write much, but somehow read any piece of writing I could lay my eyes and hands on—including the obituaries section of old newspapers, which had been used by butchers to wrap meat.

Poets United: Wow, Salem, this is really interesting!! And you are so fluent in English! You had a thirst for the written word from the very beginning.

Salem: As for my poetry, I started reciting poems at Form One in Secondary School.  The poems I usually wrote in High School, quite naturally, were in the form of love letters sprinkled with hard dictionary jargons which I could barely understand. If that is what is called poetry, then, yes, I was writing them. But after High School, while teaching at a primary school as a volunteer teacher, I composed my own poems, to be recited by Primary girls in their Poetry Competitions.

In my sojourn of poetry, especially in Primary and Secondary and even after, it has largely been a solitary journey of myself and my world. Let us face it, poetry is, by and large, a thankless job. One labours at midnight to scribble wonderful lines of poetry, but when daylight approaches and he/she presents it to the world, the world regards him/her as some form of a lazybones  with queer tendencies, whatever that means. So, yes, unfortunately, my poetry has been a product of groping in darkness without much of a mentor, save for my English teachers in Primary and High School. It has been either to swim in the waters or to sink in oblivion.

Poets United: When I read your poems, I would say you are definitely swimming, and swimming very well!

[Kenya School of Law, Class A, the best overall class, which won the Team Inter Class Tournament this April. Salem is Class Representative, third from the left in the black row, wearing a black sweater]
Poets United: What about poetry makes you want to write, Salem?
Salem: Reminds me of a poem I titled 'Why I Write’ which I wrote on Friday, 18 February this year in my poetry blog. I write to speak to man, I write to be human, to convey blossoming buds, to apprise caged spirits...I write because words are the only things I have...I can mock kings, I can soothe a tiger...I can paint...I can create—just like God. That just sums up why I write.
Poets United:  Spoken like a true poet.  Do you have any personal heroes?

Salem: Let me first point out that I regard every person who has directly or indirectly influenced my life or the lives of others as a hero. Even that man selling roasted maize, or a woman selling onions is a hero or a heroine. So where do I start? History is replete with heroes and heroines I admire, here in Kenya and worldwide. Take my mother, for instance, for raising me up single-handedly from High School and teaching me the virtues of patience, hard work and honesty. Look at Nelson Mandela who, after fighting against apartheid in South Africa, still had the moral fibre to relinquish power sooner than he might have. Examine the life of Professor Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Laureate, who could literally fight for trees to the point of putting her life on the line.  I read Mahatma Gandhi, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Martin Luther King Jr. All these people give me hope, because they acted the way they did not for money, not for fame, not for recognition, but because it was the right thing to do. They sacrificed a lot personally, even when other good people doubted their cause.

[Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai~image from google]

Poets United: You name some of my personal heroes here, and for the same reasons.  Salem, your  writing deals often with social justice/injustice issues.  When did you first become passionate about this? Is it what led you to studying law?

Salem: Growing up in Kacheliba  was a humbling experience. Here are a people content with the little they have. They don’t dream of owning big cars, perimeter-walled residences and poshy lifestyles. Yet, even in the midst of such contentment, they could live a little better, with  more improved social amenities.  They could trek many kilometers to access services of a dispensary. They weren’t aware of their electoral rights. They weren’t informed much about their fundamental rights and freedoms. They lived a day as it came, looked to the rain for sustenance, and crossed their fingers for the health of their livestock.

[Salem's Mother and Other Kinfolk]

Poets United: Such a beautiful family, Salem! They must be so proud of you.
Salem: Then, when I came to the city, I realized that even in the bigger picture, the world was also trapped in the same awkward position. There was something wrong........the inequalities, the breach of fundamental rights, the powerful heels stepping on the conscience of those who opposed  what was not right......In all this, business went on as usual. When we read in the newspapers about revolutions, we see blood spilt. To venture to the streets is brave, but for me, I opted to use the barrel of my pen. They are my soldiers, and I send them forth to speak for me, to satirize, to be the reason. More importantly, I speak the stories of the great silent majority languishing in the alleys, whose stories won’t rise beyond a whisper. If it be true, that I carry their message, may the dawn of another day light their unlit paths.

Poets United:  So beautifully said, Salem. (I am in awe, here, folks!)

Salem:  But as you would expect, if my soldiers are caught up in the cross-fires, law steps in. After finishing form four,  it took me four years of waiting and soul-searching to pursue law. Law to me is a tool God has placed within my reach to fight for truth and justice. Maybe in future, God giving me health, I will look  back and say, yes God, I was your vessel and I was humbled to serve You.



Salem: This is me, my people and the graduation. My Auntie is adorning me with flowers, while my Grandmother, on the right, looks on. She now boasts to other grandmothers that she "gave birth to officers" :)



Poets United: I love it! Proud Grandma! What is your dream, Salem, for your life, and for your writing? I suspect  both have something to do with  social justice issues  :)

Salem: Like Martin Luther King Jr., I too have a dream. I have a dream that one day my story will also be the story of humanity. To be the story of hope and refuge to the less privileged members of society. To be the catalyst for firm structures upon which society will be founded anew, with brighter hope for vulnerable children and women.

My story is also a story of humanity, and my poetry is but a stanza in one epic poem of human struggles and celebrations.

I would love my introductory welcome in future to read , “Please welcome Salem Lorot. An accomplished advocate, a human rights defender, the founder of Lorot Foundation, a published poet of thirteen poetry books, a renowned legal scholar, a writer of ten critically acclaimed novels, a citizen of the earth...O my goodness, I am not an inch closer to half of what this humble soul has accomplished thus far...”

Poets United: Wonderful! Dream big!  I know you will go far in this life; you have already traveled a long ways from your village. Yet you keep it close in heart: roots and wings!


Salem: I call this photo 'Lights, Camera, Action: Wait! Where is the Horn?' The hornblower, second from the left, brought the Graduation Square to a standstill with his horn- blowing, jingles strapped around his ankles, and sheer happiness.


Poets United: A great day, and a huge accomplishment. Salem, what style of poem do you write the most?  Is there any form of poetry you avoid, or find difficult to read or write?

Salem: Let me be frank. I write free verse. Not because I consciously chose to but because that was the only logical way I could write my poems. I have never been to any poetry school to analyse the rhymes, meters, iambic pentameter, couplet, quatrain, sonnets, haiku, tanka, limericks and so on. Matter of fact, I discovered haiku as late as early this year and secretly laughed at my discovery.

People have their different styles. Others write beautifully in haikus, others limericks, others rhymes. For me, I plunge in my free verse, instructing my words to stand strategically in the arena of my reason. And if they communicate what I consciously wanted, by stroke of pen, they have lived up to their usefulness.

Poets United: As good a description as I have ever heard!  And how do you know a poem is good? Do you revise your work, or does it usually come just as we see it on your site?

Salem:  Again, let me be frank. I don’t know if, at the time  a poem is fermenting in my mind,  we would rightly call this my way of revision. I really don’t know. But once I work up my fingers on the keyboard or hold my pen to write, I summon all my emotions with me. For that moment, I become that poem. If a poem speaks to me and tugs at my heart, that is a good poem. If I read it and I am not moved, then I will recall such a poem and remind it to ‘act maturely’. Usually, I would write it to the end, revising some words here or there or a line, but that is just about it. After that, I fall in love with that poem. I would read it emotionally aloud to myself, twice or thrice. Or even five times. After that, I consider it an act of betrayal to mutilate it with some other word. I post it and for all I care, I will be blind to any structural deficiencies. I know it is bad practice, but that is me.

Poets United: Sounds like an inspired method. What is it that most often triggers you to write?
Salem: An idea knocks on the door of my mind. A feeble knock, actually. I really don’t know how it all starts. Could it have been some past event that was frothing all this while in my mind? Or perhaps a news clip that left me with a bad taste in my mouth? What about a simple act of kindness, a photograph, a prompt like ones of Poets United? So many factors come into play, I presume. But in the end, when such an impression has been sufficiently baked in my mind, my creativity is a conflagration. This nudge sometimes is undisciplined. For instance, some weeks ago, I had woken up in the morning to read on a legal subject. I spent the whole morning writing a poem that I titled “Blame it on Me”.  Looking back, it was worth it, because such poems sometimes knock once and, once rejected, they never come back!
And Death triggers me to write. Subconsciously, I would want to leave behind me the best poetry that will outlive me. I consider myself a custodian of the treasure trove of mankind’s poetry and view it a dereliction of duty not to whet the appetite of man with generous helpings of my poems.
Poets United: Fantastic! I love it! What is your take on poetry and the internet?  Do you think it floods the market with too much poetry, or are you, like me, just happy to have some people reading your work?

Salem: It depends on the way you look at it. Some see it as a free-for-all-poetry-warehouse which displays a whole range of poetry. To them, this has lowered the bar of what poetry essentially was (and is, perhaps)—a small club of “mad scientists” as another poet would say, with strange entry requirements and mode of operation. They are entitled to their opinion. But as for me, and I agree with you entirely, I look at my poem not as me but as society. It is to society’s ( and most certainly a poet(ess)’s ) best interest to display their wares to the globe with different cultures, attitudes, perceptions, circumstances, not so much as to accentuate the differences, but to harmonise them in the universal language of man of love, peace, equality and justice.

Poetry is a different kind of ballgame altogether. Few appreciate it and even fewer take time to leave behind a generous comment. The internet buzz will do the art a good spin. This hype will make poetry part of the lives of an ordinary person. I agree, sharing is good for both the poet(ess) and the society.

Poets United: Well said. When  and where do you like to write?

Salem: Unless prohibited, I write anytime anywhere. I can note an idea on a small piece of paper or make a mental note. I let this flow naturally so an ideal classroom setting of a student nibbling at a pen trying to crack up a poem is a no-no for me. In fact, the less ideal a setting the better, especially when my poem is fermenting in the mind. But when I decide to write it, I need peace within my being and without. I would write and read it aloud and remember to congratulate myself for my stroke of poetic genius.

[Salem with a trophy in his classroom. His class, Class A, for which he is Class Representative, was Best Overall Class]
Poets United: I love your confidence. How does your environment impact your writing?

Salem: By environment, I visualize trees, rivers, hills, mountains. It could be the concrete jungle of the city, the people and values around me. It could also be what I watch in the news, what I read in the papers, the books I read et al. All these form the necessary ingredients of what I write. When I write a poem like I often do, and mention River Suam and Kacheliba Hill, the geography of my rural home comes into play. When I witness less than perfect circumstances in which God’s children live, my mind is drawn to these. When the media is awash with disheartening news of Japan’s earthquake, I write to give them hope. All these are tied to my writing because I am a product of society, nothing less nothing more.  There is a part of me (the shine part of me) that is a beam of sunlight revealing the glory of Africa and her enchanting beauty. It is the story of man (and woman) in bliss and in nature, whether in Western Canada, Afghanistan or in Kenya.

Poets United: What a beautiful vision you have, Salem! What poem, written by you, do you like the most?

Salem:  In  a characteristic fashion of a Professor, such a question will most likely elicit a subjective answer and apparently is the most difficult. I love most of the poems I write (I don’t want ugly incidents of them waving placards, crying out and protesting against my discrimination and “Poe-varitism”). But since the interviewer will take most blame, let me hazard and say a poem I wrote to encourage the people of Japan when the tsunami struck them. The prompt from Poets United was apt, as it urged members to write to give hope to the people of Japan. I titled the poem “Tororot, Please Hear Me”. In that one poem, I had spoken to a soul trapped in a rubble. In that prayer, I had discharged my duty as a poet when Japan came calling for help. Though I was many miles away from Fukushima, for instance, I was still there nonetheless—encouraging, singing for hope. I particularly love some lines in the penultimate stanza of that poem which reads: “ You see, God the Maker of Japan, Japan is us, we are Japan, It is like a cow if dead even the egrets sing dirges; Japan carries our dreams too, As writers and poets...”

Poets United: Sigh. So lovely, and full of heart. Do you have a favourite poet?  Was this poet inspirational to you in writing poetry yourself? 
Salem: While in High School, we were introduced to so many poets and poems in various anthologies. Each individual poet struck me with a poem that was engraved in my mind. Henry Barlow with a poem “ Building the Nation”; Laban Erapu with “Elegy”, Jared Angira, Kisa Amateshe and many others. But most importantly, I loved Okot P’Bitek’s “Horn of my Love” and “Song of Lawino”. Here was such poetry rich in the imagery of the Acholi people of Uganda. The beautiful thing about this writer is that he wrote in his native language of Acholi.

For my love for the Kiswahili language I read Mashairi ( the equivalent of Poems). I discovered Shaaban Robert, Wallah Bin Wallah and other numerous gifted poets from Zanzibar and the Kenyan Coast. Their products were born out of strict mental discipline and their rhymes and internal structures unparalleled.

With the aid of internet and love for law, I have stumbled upon stand-alone beautiful poetry. W.H Auden writes beautifully.  I especially loved the poem he wrote called “Law Like Love”. Rudyard Kipling’s “Glory of Garden” impresses me. In one of the stanzas, he writes:

There’s not a pair of legs so thin, there’s not a head so thick,
               There’s not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick
                But it can find some needful job that’s crying to be done
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one

“The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll is a beautiful read.

Poets United: I especially love the Kipling quote. Salem, what keeps you writing?
Salem: I keep on writing  because deep down I believe that I have the talent which needs to be continuously honed. I am stropping myself to bigger things and when my writing would be in much better shape I would be happy that I expended my effort in reaching there.
Of course I have been secretly nursing hopes of being published some day in the future.  But to be realistic and fair with myself, I have had to contend with the fact that being published in Kenya, especially as a poet, is akin to waiting for an antelope to cross your path before releasing an arrow. Maybe the blame is not entirely to be placed on the publishing firms, as what they publish is determined by market demands. Many a writer or a poet has submitted manuscripts with hopes of being published without consideration of such factors. Let us hope for the best. Let us keep the art sizzling, though.

A poetry community, like Poets United, satisfies most of my needs. Members read my poems and comment on them. What more should I ask for?

Poets United: Well said! And do keep those poems sizzling! We await them with anticipation! Do you ever think of writing a book ?

Salem: I read somewhere—I believe it is a quote from some prominent politician—that  either you write a good book to be read by people, or you live an exemplary life, so as to make others write about you. I know that I will write a book in the near future. If I will be famous enough, I will write a memoir. But essentially, I will write a book that will motivate man (and woman). The story of the Pokot is another goldmine that I have always wanted to write about, about their culture, their folklore, their rites of passage, their proverbs and such other things. I will live by my plans, and when I would have achieved the things that my heart desired, I would write about them to tell mankind that it is possible.

Poets United: Fantastic! I love books like that – books with the message: “It is possible.” Are you a fan of music?

Salem: There is no particular genre of music  that I rigidly listen to. I listen to Gospel music, Classic Music, Hip Hop, Country Music, Reggae, Bongo Flava, Kenyan local music and some Congolese. I view music as poetry. If their poetry is good, I will be obliged to be their audience. I don’t play music, neither am I skilled in playing any musical instruments. However, I have always admired the piano. Maybe I need to get some lessons on that so that in my old age I will entertain myself and all others who might care to listen to me.

Poets United: Good plan! If you could have dinner with any famous person, past or present, who would it be?

Salem: Lovely. If I could shuttle into the past, I would dine with Martin Luther King Junior. I would talk with him about his “I Have a Dream” Speech and “I Have Been to the Mountain Top”. I would congratulate him for the course he took in his life. Then I would take him around Africa and show him “God’s Children” suffering injustices. I will show him the slums, I would tell him that the dream he had has been usurped. I will tell him that the racial intolerance of Atlanta, Georgia of his time has mutated into some other form, not so much about race but polarised ethnicity, of leaders who cling on power yet they are not so passionate about the future, of inability or unwillingness of the custodians of society’s mores and conscience to stand up for what is right. And if King would oblige, I would take him to a family dying of starvation to eat from their sorrow. I would then take him to the high and mighty with plenty of food and invite him to watch them in the news talking about ‘lack of food not being a national crisis’ and appealing to Red Cross and ‘International Community’ to donate food. King and I would laugh, not out of merriment but from chagrin.

[image from google]

Poets United: Oh, Salem, I so hear you! Rather than laugh, I am sure that you would weep together. What other poets in the blogosphere do you like to read or visit?

Salem: This is a bit difficult. I trawl upon blogs and blogs. I am discovering other wonderful blogs that I read but these ones will suffice.  Kim Nelson WritesStar Dreaming With Sherry Blue Sky, and Mad Kane’s Humour Blog.

Poets United: Oh my! Thank you! When you are not writing, what other interests do you pursue?

Salem: I am still a student, therefore my life rotates around books. However, as youths from my rural village, we have come together to form an association which seeks to unite us and to come up with income-generating activities which could empower us. I have already drawn up its constitution and its registration is at an advanced stage.

Poets United: That is really inspiring, Salem!

Salem:  I also play badminton. This year I dared myself to swim. Almost one and a half months later, I have managed to conquer my fear  of water, managed to swim to the deep end and still do a butterfly, a freestyle and a backstroke. I can also skate.

Poets United: Wonderful!  Good for you! Have you ever lived a great adventure?

Salem: They are two. One, five years ago when I first wore a pair of skates. When I went back to the village with them and actually skated on a Market Day when people are many, business came to a stand still. They marvelled at these “shoes with tyres”.  A religious woman literally said that the end of times was nigh if such things were happening ( Imagine!)

Secondly, this year, when I conquered my greatest fear of a swimming  pool and not only swam into the deep end but participated in a swimming competition for the school the other day. I came third out of four and hey, did I have fun. I am entertaining the thought of bungeeing one day.

Poets United: Yikes, just don’t break your writing fingers, okay? Do you have any other dreams you hope to make come true?

Salem: If only I could be a pilot! But I learnt early in my education that the system had conspired to discredit me. See, up to now I don’t understand why my maths teacher could ask me to calculate the time at which two running taps could fill a bucket. First, I wondered why there should be somebody brave enough  to waste water, and secondly make me calculate such a loss. Especially considering that water in rural Kacheliba was (and still is) scarce and quite logically we had no luxury of taps, let alone ‘running taps’. Then came the nautical miles, the matrix, the gradient, and, good people, my dream career took a nose-dive, quite literally!

[Kacheliba image from flickr.com]

Poets United: That is such a shame. Flying would literally open the world to you.
Salem: Then I tried music in High School. My music teacher could come with a drum for an ‘oral lesson’. He could hit the drum dum dum dum du du du du duuuum and expect us to write those drums in crotchets, quavers, minims and semi demi hemi quavers. Most of the times I could be carried away by the rhythm, but my music teacher was not an entertainer, he was an info-tainer. My music was blown too.

I also wanted to be another Barack Obama for Kenya. But you see, the odds are against me. Let’s face it: If you are not 50 and above, forget about it. If you are not wealthy yet blessed with forward-thinking, high ideals and drive for change, and I am sorry to say this, the next  questionable character with deeper pockets would win. I have concrete examples of people who were rejected by the electorate not so much because they could  not deliver but because “mkono mtupu haulambwi” (A Kiswahili saying meaning empty hands cannot be licked).

Let me say that God will use me to accomplish his purpose. I have big dreams and I intend to accomplish them. Some are just too big but I know in the fullness of time I will accomplish them. God is preparing me for them and He promises me that blessings will chase me down.

Poets United: Salem, you are an inspiring young man! I, too, believe there are great things in store for you.  Do you have a favourite quote that you use often, or live by?
Salem: "I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy". J. D. Salinger (1919 - )
Poets United: I love that so much!!!!! Is there anything else you would like to share with Poets United?

Salem: We should protect our planet. The trend is quite worrying. Fumes of poisonous gases are still emitted into the atmosphere, toxic substances  dumped in the seas and even in our yards. Let us be positively involved in protecting the environment. It is not some far-fetched idea of some enviro-conscious busy-bodies. It is either we heed the call or perish together. Let history remember us for bequeathing upon the next generation a better planet.

Poets United:  Oh you say that so well, Salem! Thank you for taking the time to allow us to get to know you better. It has been fascinating for me, and I know our members are going to appreciate all you have to say. Thanks, Salem.

Salem: If my people back in the village got wind of this, they will wonder which supernatural tricks I am using. They will not understand.
 Of course, with some laughter, they will say, "Our good son, when we told you to go and read all the books there, we see that you did that. Now you can press this small briefcase and ask other people very far away whether the sun is up."
See kids? Told you this was going to be fascinating! I know it was a long read, but this poet is so interesting, and humorous, I found myself unable to cut a single word.
The folks that live behind the pen are some of the most interesting people around. We look forward to giving our readers an intimate and personal look at some of the other poets found here at Poets United, so be sure to return,  to see who we chat with next. Who knows, it might be you!

14 comments:

  1. OH MY HECK! This is one of the most interesting and enlightening interviews I have read in a very long time. I learned so much from Salem's honest and open answers to Sherry's well-thought-out questions. The photos added a dimension of connection that I really appreciate. Thank you both for taking the time to open my eyes to so many new ideas and truths.

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  2. I am excited to see this interview up. To Sherry Blue Sky ( "Koko" )in particular and Poets United in general, I am humbled to have been found worthy of being interviewed out of so many brilliant souls that we have here.

    Kim Nelson, thank you so much. Sherry Blue Sky and I had a good time doing this.

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  3. What a great interview, Sherry, and what an inspiring young man Salem is. I will definitely be reading more of his poetry. He glows with the optimism of youth, coupled with a wisdom that comes from knowing life only too well.

    Best Wishes to you Salem in all you do.

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  4. I loved every minute of interviewing Salem. He simply shines, and inspires. He gives this old granny hope for the world after all:)

    Salem, you have a wonderful talent. I look forward to reading more and more of your poems, and to watching you do great things in the corner of the world where you are:)

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  5. Excellent Piece - I've visited Salem's blog, and have always enjoyed it.

    Thanks for these further insites into this fine poet.

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  6. phew, this one is a doozy! But wonderful all the same! what a great edition!

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  7. WoW! Such an interesting and talented young man is Salem. This was quite an eye opening interview.

    Sherry, you did a wonderful job. You seem to have made a connection with Salem.

    Salem, thank you for sharing so much of your life with us. I sincerely wish you much success for the future.

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  8. Sherry, this was a wonderful interview. I loved the questions you asked of this exceptional poet.

    Salem, it is a pleasure to read your work on Poets United. My best to you with all of your goals. And write on.....

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  9. Bravo Sherry, for a truly inspiring and informative interview. You said it would knock our socks off, and you were spot on. I have to go now, I can't wait to get over to check out Salem's Blog. And to Salem I say,"You have many great things in your future my young friend. Of that, I have no doubt."- jrg

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  10. Sherry and Salem,

    A great joint effort, which was so interesting and inspiring to read.

    A most wonderful poet to have within The Poets United Community.

    Best wishes, Eileen

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  11. Thank you all for your kind comments. I am continuously discovering wonderful people all over the world. You are the people who encourage me. I am because you are, they say.

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  12. Dear Sherry Blue and Salem

    Salem is a place in the State of Tamil Nadu in India. In Tamilspeak, it is pronounced Se lam. It has got a Steel plant, owned by the Steel Authority of India, and it produces stainless steel and other things. Both sides of the railroad line, you get verdant green and whitewashed houses, sparkling white and the people are quite fond of the local brew, arrack, and then, doctors' brandy :) I have seen farm laborers down a quart in no time ... with the strange accompaniment of the ripe banana !

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  13. Dear Salem, I like very much your ideas and writing. I also tried to become a poet. But it seems one is born a poet which I wasn't. I also like very much the topic of social justice which you also like. Your language is beautiful and your people are beautiful. I want to say that I have also been influenced by two of the poets that have influenced you. I personally met Okot p'Bitek in 1982 a few months before his shocking death. I am also related to Dr. Laban Erapu, who has inspired me so much. However, I don't like your expression of liking Rudyard Kipling. Do you know he wrote the "White Man's Burden" that the imperialists have used as a policy to oppress the developing countries to which you also belong? I have passed through Pokot and Turkana. Kacheliba mountain looks like Tororo rock in Uganda and that's how I got to read your interview. Best wishes with social justice.

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  14. We were classmates and I had not an idea about your life until the poetry came along. To the person that inspired me to start blogging my poetry, I am greatly inspired. May you live to accomplish your dreams Son of the Hills!

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