The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

Interview: Mildred Barya

Poems by Mildred K Barya (Uganda)

Published in The Ofi Press issue 46 

Two poems first published in Give Me Room to Move My Feet, Amalion Publishing, 2009.


On this Mount Elgon


We could make every wish here

It would happen

In these high places near the sky

We are given wings

To be much more than we are

To be a future that we want

We could be anything here.


The moon hangs lazily

With her usual smile

Our heads are closer to the stars

The world can roll on

As we keep vigil with the stars.


We have flown and stroked mountain tops

We have embraced a vision of glory

Finally we know who we are

Responding to the wild

Drinking up the stream

The forests and the mountains

We are true.





Mother used to hush-hush us

‘Walls have ears,’

In this IDP camp

There are no walls

Mother says

Fences can hear.


We are displaced here

But I ask

How can we be displaced?

No, thank you very much

We are placed here

Where there is a large fence and no walls.


We dig bunkers to dive in

When bombs go off

Loud and shattering like death

We do not open our lips

Everything here has ears.


About the Poet

Mildred K Barya is a writer from Uganda. She has three poetry publications: Give Me Room to Move My Feet, 2009, The Price of Memory After the Tsunami, 2006, and Men Love Chocolates But They Don’t Say, 2002. Her short stories are published in anthologies and journals such as Northeast Review, Per Contra, African Love Stories Anthology, Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, Dreams, Miracles & Jazz Anthology, and Words from A Granary: Uganda Women Writers Anthology, among others. In 2015 she edited a poetry anthology on Kampala City: Boda Boda Anthem and Other Poems. She has taught creative writing and literature at Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Syracuse University (during her MFA studies), and currently University of Denver where she’s completing a PhD in Creative Writing. Beginning September 2015, she joined the editorial staff at New American Press and Mayday Magazine. She also serves on the board of African Writers Trust and blogs at:

Image: "Lazy Moon" by Marco Genuzio.