Balthazar Rodrigue Nzomono-Balenda is not only an author and a poet, but also a student, multimedia designer and translator. His previous books include The Depth of My Soul and The Struggle for Power and the Fight for Survival. Balthazar became interested in poetry by accident in 2003 when he wasn’t satisfied with the way things were going in his early studies and in the Danish society. We interviewed Balthazar to find out more about his interest in poetry and his newest book, Freedom of Press: The Sitting Duck.
Thank you for this interview, Balthazar. Can you tell us what you mean when you became interested in poetry by “accident”?
Balthazar: I became interested in poetry by accident in 2003, when I was following the basic 10th school. I was on my way to the HF (Higher Preparatory Examination) in an Adult education center, in the northern part of Denmark. I was underestimated by study consolers who didn’t think my Danish was good enough and they didn’t even think that I was able to handle the Higher Preparatory Examination, which is a 2-year general upper secondary program building on to the 10th form of the Folkeskole and leading to the higher preparatory examination (the HF-examination), which qualifies for admission to higher education, subject to the special entrance regulations applying to the individual higher education programs. I felt down and I was very angry because I knew that I was able to do it. I started to put it in words on the internet when I found a website where Danes, Norwegians and Swedes write poems. I decided to join and I began to express my frustrations in words. That’s how I began to write poems. The site where I started to write poems is known as www.digte.dk.
Do you feel poetry is an art form?
Poetry, and discussions of it, has a long history. Early attempts to define poetry, such as Aristotle's Poetics, focused on the uses of speech in rhetoric, drama, song and comedy. Later attempts concentrated on features such as repetition, verse form and rhyme, and emphasized the aesthetics which distinguish poetry from prose.
Your new book, Freedom of Press: The Sitting Duck, has a powerful message. Would you like to tell us what that is?
Balthazar: It’s about journalists being silenced for their works. Journalists or anchors are human beings like us and they do what they do because they love it and they make a living of it. The purpose of the free press is to inform is about the circumstances that they see around the world so that we can have an idea about what is going on in our communities and around the world. My hope is that laws are enforced by the UN, if the UN cares about free speech and the freedom of press. I hope that CPJ keeps fighting a big battle against bandits who are so insecure that they would have to kill for their survival.
My thanks to Christiane Amanpour from CNN for brining this topic on Youtube and I owe this book to her and many other journalists who risk their lives reporting in dangerous places. My hope is that the families of the victims get the help and the justice they need so that they can be healed. Thank you for stepping in this blog. I am very grateful that Christiane Amanpour is such a great inspiration. I dedicate this book to her and many other anchors around the world. In Freedom of Press, the sitting duck, I use poetry to talk about different situations, journalists can endure. I am not specific on characters because anyone of them can be in similar situations. I relate this situation with others who go through it too: Authors, Human Rights activists, Greenpeace activists, freedom fighters, aid workers etc.
In every poetry, I talk about different events from Human Rights violations to other frustrations, journalists can deal with when they report in countries that are hostile to an independent press. Like in all my books, I use poetry to criticize religion and its promotion of bigotry around the world. I end my book with a conclusion where I talk about the insecurities of those who are hostile to the free press and their desire to promote violence crime because they don’t know anything about the principles that makes a decent human being decent. I put things into perspectives by also talking about others who are trapped in the same situation like: authors, Human Rights activists, Greenpeace activists, freedom fighters, aid workers, movements for democracy and others. My message to the readers is that the CPJ is starting to take care of these cased and my hope is that justice gets served because much of these criminal acts are ignored and the criminals and those who employ them walk with impunity
Why such an intriguing title?
Balthazar: The idea behind this title was to describe the situation journalists go through as ducks that are hunted by those who are enemies of the independent press. I compare this situation with innocent ducks that are enjoying a lake and suddenly they get hunted by several predators, which couldn’t stand their presence in a lake.
Would you like to share one of your poems from the book with us?
On her way home
When she works
It’s never good enough
She was a slave
Building a pyramid somewhere unknown
When I talked to you about her situation
You didn’t want to hear me
When she needed help
No one expects an Earth quake
What have you done to her Family?
Show me the calculation
Religion given a state of choice
A quick try to eliminate free will
She went crying
Tear driving her to a grave
She has no one to consult her
Her heart has no country
The slayer was the love of her life
He killed her from the inside out
He had no mercy
Honour and bed sad no to pain
She went to her grave
She paid her debt
Do you believe in “writing what you know” is the best way to go?
Balthazar: I believe that writing what I know is the best way to go because I have something to share with my readers. Before I decide to write what I know, I make sure that I educate myself first. Writing the best you know gives you an opportunity to debate with others and to be prepared for questions that may come your way by fans and others who may not understand what you’ve written.
What’s next for you, Balthazar?
Balthazar: I have worked on this year’s last book of poetry, which is Silent Talking. Now, I am hoping to get it published and go on with a non-fiction book about different genocides that have occurred in our history and I am going to be very opinionated because genocide is evil.
Thank you so much for this interview. Can you tell us where we can find out more about you on the web?
Balthazar: For more information, please go to http://www.redroom.com/author/balthazar-rodrigue-nzomono-balenda
I am honored that I got interviewed by you.