Interview With and Four Poems by Nancy Ndeke, Activist Poet and Associate Editor, Liberated Voices

“My advice is simple. Poetry has feeling. It must address its subject with depth and conviction. It must be unbiased and true to its feeling in order to touch another.” Nancy Ndeke

My introduction to Nancy Ndeke comes by way of a deepening connection with exiled Zimbabwean poet, Mbizo Chirasha, WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS *Literary Dope* Extra-Revolutionary*Creative Crazy* (Liberated Voices). I thank him for giving me another platform for having my say and for introducing me to Nancy and other African poets.  I’ve read quite a number of Nancy’s poems and writings. I’m impressed with her ethic and insights. I’m also pleased with this evolving African connection. We have been short on African representation and representation from those of the African Diaspora. Foundational to the work of The Poet by Day and The BeZine is to take advantage of what I think of as Global Living. This is a gift of the Internet. If we share art and stories across borders, it helps defy the often dehumanizing rhetoric of mainstream media and the always dehumanizing rhetoric of those who benefit from fomenting national, racial, and religious fear and bigotry, not for sake of the people but for sake of their own power and wealth.

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” Malcom X

– Jamie Dedes
JAMIE: Please tell us of the life experience that brought you to your activism?
NANCY: What brought me to activism is both personal and public. At the age of ten, I was involved in accident. I suffered seizures as a result, a most misunderstood illness especially in rural Africa in the seventies. I was traumatised and stigmatized by the mis/treatment that birthed in me a spirit of defending vulnerable persons in whatever situation.
Then, in the late nineties, I worked with an NGO in a civil war torn country in Africa. The inhumanity of humans was the most shocking. This again led to my writings exposing the vagaries of war and especially toward the weak.
JAMIE: What made you decide on poetry as a vehicle for activism?
NANCY: Poetry has always been the love of my life since it was introduced to me in junior high school. Its ability to borrow strongly from emotions and sentiments ensure feelings are conveyed as near accurately as possible in order to identify with the subject matter. Poetry, I also find, has its own freedom in expression, especially free verse, which is my preference.
JAMIE: We have some readers here who are just beginning to use poetry as their nonviolent weapon of choice in combatting injustice. What words of advice and encouragement can you give them?
NANCY: My advice is simple. Poetry has feeling. It must address its subject with depth and conviction. It must be unbiased and true to its feeling in order to touch another.


Is the un-gluing of ancient loves,
Is the dying songs of fairy tales,
Is the admonishment of lullabies ,
Is the scattering of kin bonds,
Last testament,
Is a leftist swing from right,
Is Maths without formulae, and
If there is,
The sum total of outcome is dearth
Knocking family hearth with rebellion
Un-commanding the commandments with mad commendations,
Topsy Turvy is the imbalance of status quo long overthrown
Alas!! In celebrating birth we forgot death
In chanting arrival,we forgot the end is the beginning,
Children of clay baying for the moon shine in shadow of truant machismo
Is there light except light?
How about love? Does it come with color?
Who knows the day before birth and the one after death?
We are quite a mouthful us who think we know for we know bias
Ask the wind, ask the tides, ask the fog and mist about the mysteries of life,
Humility is prayer,
Gratitude is song
We are poverty itself without the two.

Erupted on fire and milk coagulated,
The honey dried into an angry plastic.
Impenetrable and
Blatantly nasty
War is synonymous with death
Except from profiteers
Who grin with pomp and flair
At boosted arms deals
Heaven disagrees on principle
Earth receives the rogue principal
His mastery of greed as an incentive
The undoing of civilizations
Chanting empire slogans
Lads and lands are tagged
Boundaries defined and minions positioned
Henceforth learning starts
Of half truths and pure lies.
Gods multiply
God is ridiculed and sold as a fairy tale
Men lord it over the earth
Dimming thoughts of seekers
Till, darkness dot the irises of populations
Praying to rights of theorem
While wrong sips grape juice
At the heaps of gold and diamonds
Stacked close to crude barrels
Deliverables from the smoky ruins
Of recent massacres,
Of children of the Same God.
What became of men?

Am a narrative of the road riding the wind
The shooting star in the sleepy eyes of earth
I speak the light on tree tops whispering ancient oaths of love
Am new on an old journey cheering pain on to an unknown end
Am the biased child of the moon holding secrets of lovers in tender arms
Am the invisible flow of emotions walking the isle of oaths
My foot leaves no footprints except the faith of chartered beginnings and ends
My song is the silent rays of the sun warming the bones of men at the edge
My dance is the sway of the palm tree laughing at the insulting tides
I am a narrative that is a chorus in the rapids of wild waters,
My father is the King of the words and my mother is the mysterious keeper of secrets
My siblings may be rogue but no less divine
Nuisance has embedded its parts on my narrative and now the road suffers hiccups
Potholes rival the narration soiling it with twisted beliefs of another
Now, my narrative stings with the fumes of borrowed ideology, am reduced to an uprooted stump
The agony so prevalent i have learnt to live the lie of the liar
My narrative has been hijacked by a puppeteer I tell ends before beginnings
Am embroiled with inner turmoil reducing my speech to a slur,
My narrative has been invaded by a strange tongue and I admit to being afraid
But woe unto you if you hazard my defeat
Am the child of the mugumo tree that fetches its water from the Indian ocean
And all your mutated lessons shall like a leaf in the fall, fall
And i shall rise with the wind of first light and tell it to the birds
Am not ashamed to have slipped over your slippery tongue
But damn me if I ever fall again
And this narrative of the skin on my bones shall forever thrive
A reminder that am here as no accident, so dear, deal with your lying tongue
Am a narrative of the road riding the wind,
My echo of joyful living is the screech of gravel on your ears,
You, denier of colors.

As variant as the oceans’ emotions,
Spectacular like the sky and its unknown splendour,
Am the lone flower in the forest,
Differently the same with dead trees and bees hunting nectar
Am the fool chasing a speck of light in clouded breathes of conflict,
Am the song in the windpipe of a newborn
Am the voice of silence singing twilight dirges of animals on the path of extinction
Am the word in the phrase that refuses praise to common camouflage of peeling skins of graduates of ideology.
Am a son of the sun
Blemished with innuendos of a vagabond restrained from apostasy,
My home threw me out and replaced me with the after birth
Am the old gnarled tree with crooked roots and bent branches,
I sing of stars and realms of yesterdays that tomorrow shall witness,
Am the stone death to denial of the rights of the weak
Though my walk is feeble and my eyes rheumy,
I see life as more than breath and showmanship
And I roam the hostile home of my ancestry with the hymn of creation
As I wait for dust to welcome my tent,
And I shall flee to the beginning.

© 2019, Nancy Ndeke


NANCY NDEKE is the Associate Editor of Liberated Voices,  a Poet of international acclaim, and a reputable literary arts consultant. Her writings and her poetry are featured in several collections, anthologies and publications around the globe including the American magazine Wild Fire, Save Africa Anthology. World Federation of Poets in Mexico. Ndeke is a Resident Contributor of the Brave Voices Poetry Journal since mid-2018. African Contributor to the DIFFERENT TRUTHS, a publication that sensitizes the world on the plight of Autism edited by Aridham Roy. SAVE AFRCA ANTHOLOGY, edited by Prof. Dave Gretch of Canada and reviewed by Joseph Spence Jr., has featured her poetry and a paper on issues afflicting Africa and Africans.

Ndeke’s poetry and other literatures in WILD FIRE PUBLICATION in America published by Susan Joyner Stumpf and Susan Brooke Langdon. ARCS MAGAZINE in New York Edited by DR. Anwer Ghani. Her women Arts Presentation was recently published by WOMEN OF ART (WOA) in Cape Coast in Ghana. Soy Poesia, in Peru, Claudette V pg 11 featured her writings with great reception. AZAHAR from Mexico, with the initiative from Josep Juarez has also featured her poetry as has in WORLD FESTIVAL OF POTRY (WFP) from Mexico under the able editorial team comprising Luz Maria Lopez. She has been featured by INTERNATIONAL AFRICAN WRITERS from Nigeria, under the able hands of Munyal Markus Manunyi; Patricia Amundsen from Australia featured her poetry on this year’s international women’s day at Messenger of Love, Radio Station; and, esteemed poet Jolly Bhattacharjee featured Ndeke’s works on her greatly acclaimed awareness anthology for 2019, India.

Nancy’s Amazon Page is HERE.

Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, G Jamie Dedes, Versifier of Truth, Woma Words Literary Press, November 19, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Writers Worldwide Mourn the Death of Writer-Activist Liu Xiaobo in Chinese prison

Politial protest in Hong Kong against the detention of Liu Xiaobo, Photo courtesy of  Pederez under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

The death of Liu Xiaobo will forever mar China’s reputation under international law and global human rights standards, PEN America said today and called on China to Release Late Literary Icon’s Wife, Liu Xia

Liu Xiaobo, a brilliant writer, literary critic, and pro-democracy activist, was a founding member and former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. After his arrest, PEN America honored Liu with the 2009 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, kicking off an international campaign for his freedom that culminated in his receipt—in absentia—of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

PEN America held a candlelight vigil earlier this evening at the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the U.N. to honor Liu Xiaobo’s legacy and protest continued human rights abuses in China, where more than forty writers are currently in jail. This free, public event featured readings from the work of Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, who remains under house arrest in China without charge since her husband’s receipt of the Nobel Prize.

PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel released the following statement today in response to news of Liu Xiaobo’s death today:

“The death of Liu Xiaobo today from a virulent cancer contracted while serving an 11-year prison sentence will forever be a black mark marring China’s reputation under international law and global human rights standards.

“As President of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, Liu Xiaobo was a friend and compatriot for writers all over the world who struggle against tyranny using words as their sole weapon. Liu Xiaobo’s purported crime was no crime at all, but rather a visionary exposition on the potential future of a country he loved.

“For the act of penning seven sentences, China punished Liu Xiaobo with a long prison term, limiting his access to state-of-the-art medical care that might have prevented his illness or improved his prognosis. China’s refusal to honor Liu Xiaobo’s last wish to travel overseas for treatment and its decision to hold him incommunicado during his dying days are a cruel epitaph in the tale of a powerful regime’s determination to crush a brave man who dared challenge a government that sustains its rule through suppression and fear. Liu Xiaobo was not afraid. His courage in life and in death is an inspiration to those who stand for freedom in China and everywhere.

“Our thoughts are with Liu Xiaobo’s family and friends, especially his beloved wife, the poet Liu Xia, who has been kept under house arrest, harassed, and hounded for years without charge. The only thing the Chinese government can do now to expiate its complicity in the death of Liu Xiaobo is to grant his wife, Liu Xia, the freedoms in life that her husband gained only in death. PEN America calls on China to immediately grant Liu Xia freedom of movement, expression, and travel lest their crimes against Liu Xiaobo claim a second victim.”

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. The organization champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), Parral, Chile
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), b. Parral, Chile

“You can say anything you want, yes sir, but it’s the words that sing, they soar and they descend ….. I bow to them . . . I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them . . I love words so much … The ones I wait for greedily … they glitter like colored stones, they leap like silver fish… They are foam, thread, metal, dew … I stalk certain words… They are so beautiful that I want to fit them all into my poem… I catch them in mid-flight, as they buzz past, I trap them, clean them, peel them, I set myself in front of the dish, they have a crystalline texture to me, vibrant, ivory, vegetable, oily, like fruit, like algae, like agates, like olives… And I stir them, I shake them, I drink them, I gulp them down, I mash them, I garnish them …. I leave them in my poem like stalactites, like slivers of polished wood, like coals, like pickings from a shipwreck, gifts from the waves … Everything exists in the word.” Pablo Neruda in his Memoirs

Photo credit ~ U.S. Public Domain, 1966, Neruda recording his poetry

CELEBRATING AMERICAN SHE-POETS (21): Alice Walker, on the way to being daffodils

Writer, Poet and Activist, Alice Walker (b. 1944)
Writer, Poet and Activist, Alice Walker (b. 1944)

Speaking of death
and decay
It hardly matters
Since both are on the
way, maybe –
to being daffodils.

excerpt from Exercises on Themes from Life in Once: Poems (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968)

This celebration is a rain-drop next to the ocean of ongoing world-wide applause for Alice Walker (Alice Walker’s Garden). Her roots are in Putnam Country, Georgia where her family subsisted financially on earnings from sharecropping, dairy-farming and her mother’s part-time employment as a maid.  Ms. Walker seems to come by her spunk and savvy honestly. When a white plantation owner told her mother that black people had “no need for education,” she replied …

“‘You might have some black children somewhere, but they don’t live in this house. Don’t you ever come around here again talking about how my children don’t need to learn how to read and write.’ Her mother enrolled Alice in first grade when the girl was four years old.”  Evelyn C White in Alice Walker: A Life (W.W. Norton, 2004)


Alice Walker is perhaps most well-known to some for her fiction especially The Color Purple, The Temple of My Familiar and Possessing the Secret of Joy (Open Road Media, 2012 – Kindle edition).  The Color Purple won her the National Book Award and The Pulitzer Prize. It was adapted for theater, both screen and as a musical stage play. The latter won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and the 2016 Drama League Award for Outstanding Revival of a Musical. Alice Walker was the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer for fiction. (Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African-American woman to win it for poetry.)


Once:Poems was Alice Walker’s debut poetry collection, written during a 1965 trip to East Africa and her senior year at Sarah Lawrence College. The book established her as an A-list poet and Muriel Rukeyser (among many others) gave it a thumbs-up saying, “Brief slashing poems – Young, and in the sun.”

In Kampala
the young king
goes often to Church
the young girls here
so pious.

excerpt from African Images, Glimpses from a Tiger’s Back in Once:Poems

Her other collections include: Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems (2013); The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness into Flowers (2013); Her Blue Body Everything We Know: earthling Poems 1965-1990 (2004); and Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems (2004).

With Gloria Steinem on the Fall 2009 Cover of Ms. magazine
With Gloria Steinem on the Fall 2009 Cover of Ms. magazine

No celebration of Alice Walker’s work would be complete without acknowledging her ceaseless efforts on behalf of the poor and marginalized. She is an advocate for peace and understanding. She was initially inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. and worked in the civil rights movement and by Howard Zin. She dedicated Once:Poems to Mr. Zin. Wherever people are oppressed in this world, you will find Alice Walker fighting the compassionate fight.

If you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll have to link through to the site to view this video of Alice Walker in Palestine in August 2010.

Ms. Walker regularly posts new poetry at her site Alice Walker’s Garden along with opinion pieces and updates on her own work and that of others.  Her Amazon page is HERE.

portrait © Virginia Bolt under CC BY-SA 2.0; Ms. cover © Ms. Magazine under CC BY-SA 2.0.