How to Euthanise a Cactus (2010) has just hit the region. It is authored by the former Kwani? poetry editor, Stephen Derwent Partington, and is distributed in Kenya by Kwani?, but published by the UK’s prizewinning Cinnamon Press. Here’s an iconic and accessible sample poem from the collection, which seeks to celebrate our strength of character; here’s an independent review by a Kenyan reader. Attached to the bottom of this page is another Kenyan-authored review for the 'general reader'.
In its bumper end-of-year edition, the respected Africa Report kindly listed How to Euthanise a Cactus first among the continent's best four books of 2010, writing: '...a towering manifestation of poetry's strident return to the literary mainstream'
From other Reviews:
Mukoma wa Ngugi: ‘A poet’s poet, but also a people’s poet. He never stops wrestling with this mess we call humanity’
Tony Mochama (‘Smitta’): ‘Blows you out of the water with its sheer brilliance’
Phyllis Muthoni: ‘Provocative, subversive, yet compassionate. A must read’
How to Euthanise a Cactus can be purchased at special rates (800/-) directly from the reputable Kwani? Trust, using MPesa, and can be delivered. All prices are substantially below the UK cover price and bookshop rates. Or phone Mike at Kwani? Sales and Marketing for direct orders, on 0721837151 or (020) 4441801. It is also available, for slightly more, in all these good Kenyan bookshops and supermarkets.
Readings of poems from How to Euthanise a Cactus have appeared on the BBC’s leading world arts programme, The Strand, where Stephen’s book was chosen by Mukoma wa Ngugi as one of four books that best represent Kenyan identity now; the podcast appears here.
Stephen’s light blog (‘A corrective’, as he terms it, for ‘Western readers of Kenya’) appears at Inpress, the online bookshop of the UK’s Arts Council.
Stephen is also the weekly author of the light, satirical poem in The East African newpaper, and a defender of the new Kenyan poetry, written and spoken. An eccentric essay on this new poetry appears here at the Kwani? website.
FOR DETAILS OF HOW TO EASILY BUY HOW TO EUTHANISE A CACTUS IN KENYA, BY MPESA AND OTHER MEANS, CLICK ON THIS ICON OF THE RESPECTED KWANI LITERARY ORGANISATION, WHICH IS THE KENYAN DISTRIBUTOR:
If push comes to shove, How to Euthanise a Cactus can also be purchased online from the publisher, Cinnamon Press, from Inpress, or from Amazon UK.
Stephen is a writer and a teacher who works as the head of academics at a small school outside Machakos, where he lives with his wife, Mutheu, and their young family. He is the author of How to Euthanise a Cactus, and of the earlier Phoenix Press (Kenya) collection, SMS and Face to Face. Stephen's poems have appeared in a wide range of reputable international journals.
Stephen has written newspaper articles for the Kenyan national press – both The Nation and The Standard – on literary and educational issues. He also writes the cheekily satirical poem in The East African, the region’s leading weekly.
An occasionally reclusive, but always vocal champion of the new generation of younger Kenyan poets, Stephen has written in defence of these emerging voices, set up the Google Group ‘Kenyan Poetry Catalyst’, inaugurated this present website, participated in regular debates at the StoryMoja Hay Festival and occasionally on radio, worked as the poetry editor of Kwani (the region’s ‘only literary journal’), part-translated the classical Swahili poem Al-Inkishafi into English free verse, planned one-off workshops for new poets, written formal academic articles on the new Kenyan writing, and participated in the Koroga poetography project.
His two most recently-published academic articles are: ‘Making us make some sense of genocide: beyond the cancelled character of Kuseremane in Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor's “Weight of Whispers”’, and ‘Underneath the umbrella of hope: syncretism as solution in the dialogic poetry of Mukoma wa Ngugi’.
And he’s enjoyed doing this. His most recent project was a fun, chatty-theoretical 40,000 word classical essay, ‘The Contemporary Vennyan Poetry’ published at Kwani Online, considering the characteristics and strengths of the new Kenyan poets, written and spoken. It was penned in ten days following a challenge by the leading young thinker, Keguro Macharia, who is also a big bully!