Q & A Monday : Stephen Derwent Partington

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This week, for the first time in this series, we move away from Twitter and focus on published author Stephen Derwent Partington

Stephen Derwent Partington

Stephen is a Kenyan poet and teacher who writes the weekly satirical poem in The East African as well as contributing occasional articles to the national press.

His latest collection, How to Euthanise a Cactus, was chosen by the influential Africa Report as one of the ‘Best Books of the Year from Africa’ and is available from Kwani by phoning Mike at Kwani Sales and Marketing on 0721 837 151 or 020 444 1801, or by enquiry online.

How to Euthanise a Cactus is published by the prizewinning Cinnamon Press (UK), and can be found in all good Kenyan bookshops.
He lives near Machakos with his wife, Mutheu, and two daughters.

We had a few questions for him, this is what he had to say:

1. What was your First phone?

A cobalt blue Samsung thing – one of those with a slender waist, like a wasp’s. I was very fond of its text message alert, as it was the phone I used when Mutheu and I were apart for a year before we married.

2. What do you prefer? Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook. ‘Following’ someone on Twitter sounds so slavish to me. FB leads to better chats, spats and giggles. I’ve given up on Twitter.

3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Cleaning pit latrines in Kamiti Maximum Security prison, in between penning the occasional poem.

4. Any questions for us?

If you’re plummeting in a lift that’s had its cable snapped, and you jump up at the very last second before impact, will you be okay?

5. What would you do if you were president for a day?

Distribute my powers, work on creating an equitable land policy, give greater importance to towns other than Nairobi, improve workers’ rights, ban Hummers and introduce psychological tests for people who want to own one. That sort of thing.

6. What is your Favourite book & movie?

Favourite book: I’m not sure that I have just ONE favourite, but right now I’m enjoying rereading the anthology, 101 Poems Against War.

Favourite film? Comedy: that irreverent, brilliant classic, The Life of Brian, or Borat. General: Cinema Paradiso, without a doubt – a classic rites of passage film; a human masterpiece.

7. Who/What inspired you to do what you do now?

The poetry writing: all the poets I’ve ever read, but, oddly, the poet who inspired me to shift from Biochemistry to Literature was Erasmus Darwin, Charles’ grandfather, whose The Botanic Garden I read at university – I was fascinated at how it contained a version of Charles’ theory, but in verse form. The teaching part of my life: all the great teachers I had at school, too many to mention.

8. If you were to change jobs, what profession would you get into and why?

I’d quite like to be a brewer, or perhaps a carpenter, mainly because I lack practical skills, and because I always like a warm bitter beer and a table to put it on.

9. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Some people might say that all poets, all people, already have one: the ability to create the impossible through metaphor. That said, I’d quite like to be able to fly.

10. If deserted on an abandoned island, what 5 things would I want to have?

  • A huge anthology of poetry to read;
  • A massive notebook and pen;
  • Some decent suntan lotion or a parasol, as I burn easily;
  • A coconut scraper, because in the films deserted islands always have coconuts;
  • My superpower, that ability to fly!

11. If you were a car, which one would you be and why?

Something fuel efficient and deep green, I guess, and undoubtedly a manual. Certainly not a Hummer or anything of that pathetic sort.

12. If you could be in any band in the world, which one would it be? And why?

I’d go back to the mid eighties and be in The Housemartins: fun, great lyrics, and decidedly anti-Thatcher. Otherwise, I would have liked to have been in the early Renaissance choir that first sang the ‘Sanctus’ from Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli. Er, yeah.

13. Would you like to share something interesting about yourself with our readers.

I can always catch coins that are balanced on my elbow.

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