My story isn’t just my story-Rwandan author on newly published poetry book

Lydie Uwantege has been writing poetry for the better part of the past eight years and since the tender age of 16, she has sought out poetry as a means of self-expression, and what started as spontaneous journaling eventually evolved into a collection of published poems in the span of the last five years, and here is how it came to be.

“I started writing more consistently when I was 16 and used that as a way to process my emotions, mostly through journaling. About five years ago is when I started writing with more structure and decided to begin writing the book,” says Uwantege.

While she identifies primarily as a creative, Uwantege’s professional career is tailored more towards engineering than writing, and yet she still finds the time to diligently pursue her passion and her profession.

Her spiritual journey and church community significantly influenced how she pursued her passion and some of the ways they did that was through a creative seminar curated by them in which Uwantege participated sometime in 2021.

“Some of my pieces were adopted for church plays, and being more intentional in writing and structuring came from a course I took in 2021. My church facilitated a course called the creative academy and one of my teachers encouraged me to be more intentional with my writing and structuring and not just write for the sake of writing.”

“I put together all of the pieces that I have written over the years and did some research, asked for help from different people, some of whom are featured in the book. Poets like Shaki Mukiza and Celeste Impundu have read and reviewed the book, and being guided by Dominique Alonga and Ivan Nyagatare was also a big help as well,” she adds.

Upon putting the book, ‘A Melody of Words,’ together, she grouped the numerous poems in the book under five different themes with the intention of taking her readers on a journey. The five recurring chapters portrayed include Wonder, Reflection, Encounter, Resilience and Tribute. Uwantege described the different things her chapters represented, and some of the themes she explored are introspection, resilience, spirituality, grief, hope and embracing the unknown.

“Dividing the poem into five chapters was an attempt at taking the reader through an experience. Wonder, which is the first was an inkling into embracing and accepting the unknown, Reflection is more about introspection and self-discovery, and Encounter is a profound representation of my spiritual journey. Resilience brought out the motions of what overcoming hardships is really like, and Tribute was something I wanted to dedicate to my parents, and Rwandan heroes,” she said.

Grouping the poems under different chapters encouraged her to be more open with what she shared, and Uwantege wanted her shared experiences to resonate with readers, based on her strong belief that her stories are also someone else’s, and they could see themselves through her lens.

“The journeys and circumstances I have found myself in have made me more resilient and I hope that whoever is reading is encouraged by the experiences, and taking that leap was scary. The thought of exposing myself to the world was scarier but I believe that my story is not just my story and it could encourage someone. If I can use my story to overcome my fear, it’s worth it if it helps someone else,” she added.

‘A Melody in Words’ by Lydie Uwantege is currently available on Amazon and will be on the shelves of local bookstores in the near future.

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