Welcome to another episode from our Brno Expats Have Talent series. Brno is full of talented people, and some of them are not even from the CR – we’ll introduce one talented expat at a time!
This month, meet Kingsley, who uses words, lines and sometimes music to express his life’s experience.
KINGSLEY UGOJI (Nigeria / UK) – writer, poet, performer
Watch a short video of Kingsley’s performance:
How long have you been practising your art?
I’ve been writing since I was 9… but (constantly and consistently) since I was 15yrs old. One of the nicknames my family gave me since childhood is ‘silver-tongue’ as I had the ‘gift of the gab’ (or I could ‘spin gold out of nonsense’ as they said) and in high school back then when I started, I used to write letters and poems for guys that had pissed off their girlfriends and needed the right words to say ‘I’m sorry.’ This was back in Nigeria.
Skipping forward to England and having a band (Motondani / Voodoo recipe) and it became noteworthy, but for me, it was always just a way to escape and get things off my chest.
Is it your main source of income or a hobby?
Neither. It’s my way of life. Like breathing. I write for sanity; I write to be. I write poetry, stories, articles, stuff, dialogue, plays, anything that comes to mind. It’s a fix. I hear something every day that sparks an idea. It’s around us. I write because I have to. When I perform poetry, I feel alive.
How do you find living in Brno as an expat and artist?
I love Brno the most, of all the cities I’ve been and lived in since I got here (the Czech Republic) As an artist, it’s been a blessing having the open mic nights (last Friday of the month, every month, hosted by Anne Johnson… check it out) to keep honing my craft, meeting incredible like-minded artists, collaborating with some amazing singers and actors and just having a place that feels… homely.
Is it easy to practise your art here?
Yes, it is. But that’s because my writing is an extension of me. So directly affected by my emotional state anywhere I happen to live. Whether I was/am happy or sad, I could always turn to my pen to release. The obstacles became less of an interruption, and more a reason to write, just manifested on paper (pain makes me poetic).
I like to think that obstacles are just pit stops before the goal; if there’s an obstacle, there is a way to climb it or go round it.
How different is the audience in the CR compared to your home country?
An interesting one. I think the competition is definitely lower here. In England and in Nigeria and America, the amount of soon to be / wannabe stars is a dime a dozen and so the opportunity to stand out is a lot smaller and the effort you need to put in is a lot more tedious. Here, I find that the audience, the market, is more… gracious.
Where do you find inspiration?
The inspiration comes from my experiences in life. I’m lucky enough to have accumulated enough to last me a long time. Brno just brought me new experiences to add on. New faces, new talents to fuel my passion. I’ve been lucky to meet so many talented souls here, the list is too long.
Do you cooperate with other expats or local Czechs in your activity?
Here I’ve met the best kind of artists. The unknown gems. Those real artists that you hear once and you go ‘what? you’re not famous?’ and I have been lucky to collaborate with a few of them.
How can you practise your art now, in the strange covid times?
Same way I always do. One day at a time. One line at a time. In these corona times, you just have to keep pushing through. Keep doing that thing / those things that will alleviate a little bit of the gloom we feel, the isolation. You need to do whatever can give even a little bit of hope, a little bit of joy… so do what you love.
Is there any other area in art that you’d like to explore?
Right now I’ve been teaching online for a year and it’s giving me ideas of turning it to podcasts, putting out music, collaborating with other artists online. But right now, I’m just working on material I’ve been reluctant to finish. For years.
What did you choose for your live input of this article and why?
I like spinning words and I like Performance poetry and I love music. When I combine them, it turns out that I had a flare for it and so it became something that I enjoy doing.
Photos courtesy by Libor Foltýnek and Focus Photography, Bangalore