Konya Shamsrumi: What is the process of writing a poem like for you? Is it a lot of hard work or easy?
Duot Deng: Writing is like the construction of a new house. A new house requires an architect, structural engineer, a mason, a plumber and an electrician. The difference between writing a piece and building a house is that a house can have different companies do different things while a poem needs only you. It needs an individual to come up with the words, craft them and see to it that they fit in in not just a stanza but every single line through out. This is not a walk in the park. Sometimes, in the night, lines would ring in your mind but when you wake up, they are gone and you are left with only the feeling and not the words. These aborted poems bring discomfort that you end up spending long hours to remember them. But the reward is usually worth it in the end
Konya Shamsrumi: Please describe your sense of identity in this or any possible world in imagery or metaphor?
Duot Deng: I am a midnight breeze. Gently but surely, I flow into life like the wind from the sea blowing to the land. My personality is the chill that comes when least expected. For this, most people take me for being cold, inconsiderate and not compassionate so that, oftentimes, people think it is hard to approach or even create a conversation with me. But to those who take their time to understand me, I am like the cool breeze in a hot night, appealing, compassionate and humble. My zeal to make my life and others life beautiful is untamable, consistent and persistent like that breeze that flows without hindrance when all is quiet. I work in silence but the whispers of my fruits make the sound.
Konya Shamsrumi: If any of your poems could literarily save a person’s life, which poem would it be and can you describe the person whose life you think it would have saved?
Duot Deng: Every time I write a piece, I ask myself if the piece is speaking to me, and if it is, whether someone somewhere would read it and relate. So, in most cases, I write out of what I see, feel or believe others will relate to. If it were to change someone, I don’t look for an overnight transformational inspiration. I always hope that out of one’s volition, each line would speak to their inner ears and give them a different perspective when time is due.
The universal society is what I always aim at speaking to, that I always hope to have an impact on. One particular poem that speaks to me and hope speaks to others is Thoughts. Thoughts is a poem reminding me and, hopefully, others of their inner power to control and take charge of everything they feel, do, or dream about.
THOUGHTS by Duot Deng imaginations of what is beautiful Fantasies of what each can be For they are the dreams that comes to reality Thoughts are what we can be Love is not a feeling from the heart It's a thought from the mind For the senses that brings it to life Tells it to move on when it's gone For the feeling was a thought Hate is not a feeling It's the lack of better things to think Happy things to envision of what each can be It's the other angle of our perception The unforeseen circumstances in our pondering So when they say they hate you Know they didn't have better thoughts It's not a feeling .
Konya Shamsrumi: What does Africa mean to you, as potential or reality?
Duot Deng: I mean no offence to women but Africa to me is like a woman on the threshold of menopause yet with an unquenchable thirst to enjoy life with the expectations of having a child after the end of all the youthful hype. Africa has the potential to be what other continents can never be. It has the resources, including human resources, that are nowhere in the world. What Africa hasn’t realised or has and chose to ignore is that time never has reserves. Time goes like the water in a stream and only those who use it know it’s value. I am afraid that by the time Africa wakes up, the whole continent will be under foreign influence just like in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This should be the time Africa leaders stop copy pasting, seeking absurd help from other continents. A time for Africa to put its act together has beckoned and our leaders have the mantle to bring this change.
Konya Shamsrumi: Could you share with us one poem you’ve been most impressed or fascinated by? Tell us why and share favorite lines from it.
Duot Deng: One poem that evokes my interest is a poem by Robert Frost. The title of the poem is The Road not Taken. This particular piece talks about the fears, thoughts and ambitions that in most cases we would like to suppress, embrace or nurture but do not pursue due to the perception of others. The piece reminds me that what I do, think or say doesn’t have to conform to what everyone else thinks or would say. It only has to be right and my conscience has to be clear. The lines that speak most to me are the lines in the last stanza.
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.
Duot Deng aka Genral Di is a spoken word poet, writer, social activist and a literature enthusiast currently pursuing a degree in Law at the University of Juba, South Sudan. Mr. Duot has most of his work featured in different anthologies and has over hundred poems not yet published.
Richard Ali is a Nigerian writer whose poems were first published in 2008. He has served in the National EXCO of the Association of Nigerian Authors and sits on the board of Uganda’s Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation. A member of the Jalada Writers Cooperative based in Nairobi, his work has been published in African Writing, Jalada, Saraba Magazine and elsewhere. The Anguish and Vigilance of Things is his debut collection, was published in 2020. He practices Law in Abuja, Nigeria.