Interview by Faith Oneya
Phyllis Muthoni is the author of the poetry book ‘Lilac Uprising ‘ . Her poetry has variously been described as fantastic, thrilling, inspiring by poets such as Stephen Partington and Khainga O’Okwemba.She is passionate about motherhood, leadership and organizational development. She unwinds by reading a lot of fiction , exercising , playing the guitar and making jewellery.Phyllis talked to LC about her reading, writing and interesting childhood.
LC: What did they call you as a child ?
PM: I resisted all attempts at a nicknames. I can’t explain what it was; maybe I just liked my name as it was. On occasion I allowed my grandma to use call me Gathoni the diminutive form of Muthoni.
LC: What was the naughtiest thing your mother caught you doing as a child?
PM: One day (in a spate of juvenile madness, I imagine) I made fun of a disabled boy in the neighbourhood. He reported me to my mother. She was about to have my hide when I remembered my small sister was away visiting my grandma. I lied that it was my sister who had made fun of the boy. By the time she returned the dust had died down. It took a long time for my sister to forgive me.
LC: What are your fauvorite books?What kind of books do you read?
PM: Poetry and fiction are my daily bread. I have about seven volumes of poetry that travel everywhere with me. Ted Hughes is my favourite poet of all time. I love also the ‘new’ Kenyan poetry: Stephen Partington, Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, Sitawa Namwalie, Tony Mochama, Njeri Wangari and many others. I currently exploring poetry from the USA and Eastern Europe. Some of my favourite fiction authors include Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt, Muthoni Garland, Doreen Baingana, Jose Eduardo Agualusa, and Cormac McCarthy.
LC: Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character?Tell us about it.
PM: It is hard not to love the characters I meet in novels and films. Some of my favourites include Yentl and John Thornton (North and South).
LC: What inspires your writing?
PM: I am inspired by life, by possibility. I think when you look at a society like ours, it is easy to become hardened and cynical. I strive to keep my heart open to everyday miracles such as the kindness of random strangers, who I believe are angels in disguise.
LC: Please share a few lines from your favourite piece( From what you have written)
PM: Poetry is like children – it is extremely hard to pick up a favourite. The following are from an unpublished poem titled ‘The Words we Use’
There is a tiger on the prowl
We have workshopped its gleaming teeth
And tied its paws with pretty cloths
Sightings inspire debate, not terror
It hunts in our neighborhoods and alleys
We know it so well
It is one of us
Domestic like dishtowels
Kittens, spices, and violence
We feel safe.
LC: What is your greatest fear?
PM: Losing my soul.
LC: Share something about yourself that nobody knows?
PM: I am not sure there is anything about my life that only I know – bits of my life are scattered in people’s hearts. However, here is something very few people know: I have an irrational fear of caterpillars and safari ants.
Phyllis Muthoni’s book ‘Lilac Uprising’ is available at ;
1. Text book centre Junction
2. Text Book Centre Sarit
3. Uchumi Langata
4. Uchumi Sarit
5. Uchumi Capital Centre.
6. Bookpoint Moi Avenue
7. Wells Bookshop Lifestyle.
8. Moi University Bookshop Eldoret
9. Silverbird Westgate
10. Savanis Westgate.
11. Wells Bookshop
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