Ange Theonastine Ashimwe is a young poet who uses her skills to preach unity and reconciliation. She is a high school student at Cyabingo Secondary School in Gakenke District, Northern Province.
She describes herself as an ambitious girl who wants to use poetry as a platform to influence and inspire people, particularly those with disabilities.
Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa had a chat with the 18 year- old on her experience and thoughts on poetry.
When did you first start writing, and what made you feel the need to express yourself in this way?
I wrote constantly as a child, from the age of eight through my early years of high school. Being a teen I became more concerned with being cool and dropped it in favour of fitting in with my schoolmates.
Once during examination time, I became bored and on my examination copy I wrote my first poem called ‘Tomorrow will I be recalled’, I have never looked back. I like to express myself through poetry because it is emotional, creative and free floating.
What types of poems do you find yourself writing most?
I pretty much find myself writing free verse poems, slam poems, narrative poems and haiku.
What kind of work are you most drawn to reading yourself?
I love reading books that have perspective that never crosses my mind like history books, books related to Greek mythology and mostly poetry books.
What conditions help you with your writing process and what kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I write at least one poem a day. It may be short with two lines or haiku poem but I do it before I go to school. Other than that I don’t have any type of routine, whenever I have an idea I just write it.
It maybe in a classroom, in exams, on my way going somewhere, in the library or even when I’m sleeping, whenever I come up with an idea, I wake up and write. I guess maybe next year after completing high school I’ll set routines to make my poetry more professional.
How do you want your poetry to impact people?
Well, I want my poetry to make people try and explore new things because I believe life should not be about what the world will remember about us, but what we’ll remember about the world.
I want to impact society, to think about other people, and to restore humanity. For example, as they think of building new institutions, shops, they should ask whether a wheelchair could get in there.
How do you write for different audiences?
To be honest I write firstly for myself, then later for the audience. I write about life, love, humanity, Africa, history, and many other things.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
It’s only been one year since I started this career, I can say the highlight of my career so far is when I got three awards from Kigali Vibrates with Poetry, Edition 7. It was my first time performing and I used my first poem. I was awarded as ‘Best English poet’, ‘Best popular poet’ and Best poet in general.
Has your idea of poetry changed you since you began writing poems?
Poetry changed me a lot. Back then I wanted to be remembered but today I just want to be happy, to live the reality of now not some fictionalised version of me. I want to chew every inch of the universe; I’m not trying to build a legacy, to be loved or to fit in.
I’m trying to live, to love and to share. It doesn’t matter how the world will remember me, what matters is how I’ll remember the world because I lived every moment I was given not trying to be the idol of the town.
To be perfect just really; perfect is just an illusion. It’s poetry that taught me this. Poetry changed my perspective of life.