Ugandan author gets honourable mention at awards

Saturday June 08 2024



Ugandan author Mildred Kiconco Barya got an honourable mention in the poetry category in the 2024 Eric Hoffer Book Awards for her fourth poetry book, The Animals of My Earth School.

The book focuses on non-human creatures while investigating themes like greed, violence, agency, and freedom in the dynamic interrelationships among animals and their habitats.

As one reviewer says, the poems offer readers “an opportunity to re-imagine a world that is not completely under the control of humans nor destroyed by greed and lack of restraint.”

Structurally, the collection is divided into five parts of the Animal Kingdom: Insecta, Aves, Reptilia, Mammalia I, and Mammalia II.

The book charts the emergent field of eco-poetics and draws inspiration from the natural world, social sciences, mythologies, and fables. It’s composed of verse and prose poems.

Read: Ugandan's work gets honourable mention at literary fest


In awarding the honourable mention to The Animals of My Earth School, the judges remarked: “How clearly do we see the world around us? We need to relearn our vision, and for that we need teachers. What better teachers could we find than the creatures we share the world with? Not the usual creatures, but locusts, coccinella, and giant stag beetles. A young herder watches egrets riding a great, white-humped bull, but the bull disappears. We delight in wild turkeys and wonder who we’ll find in paradise. This collection is filled with surprises and transformations.”

Asked how it feels like to receive such recognition, Barya said: “I feel joy and gratitude that my poetry book has been honoured and publicly acknowledged.”

The grand prize went to Violet Lemay’s picture book Alithia Ramirez Was An Artist. It is about Alithia Ramirez, who dreamt of studying art in Paris.

She drew the world as it should be — full of colour and joy, creativity and fun.

From her teachers to her family and friends, Alithia shared her gifts with an open heart. Being an artist is never easy, but she drew every day to practice her skills and help everyone feel the love that art can bring.

Written to honour Alithia and all the lives affected by the Uvalde school tragedy, Alithia Ramirez Was an Artist will help preserve the memory of this talented young girl through her story and her artwork.

The Eric Hoffer Book Award honours the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer by highlighting salient writing, as well as the independent spirit of small publishers. Since its inception, the Hoffer has become one of the largest international book awards for small, academic, and independent presses.

A grand prize of $5,000 is awarded annually. In addition, Eric Hoffer Book Award honours include various prizes within eighteen all-inclusive categories, separate press distinctions, the Montaigne Medal, the da Vinci Eye, First Horizon Award, and the Medal Provocateur