Interview with Balthazar Rodrigue Nzomono-Balenda, author of Freedom of Press: the Sitting Duck

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. Your new book, Freedom of Press: The Sitting Duck, is a book of poetry. Can you give us a brief glimpse of what's inside?

Time after time, journalists are killed for their works by criminal groups who don’t like the truth. Journalists are often victims of violence in countries like: Russia, Turkey, Mexico, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Iran, Palestine, Gabon, Somalia and many other countries. Criminals who stand behind such barbaric are unpunished and they are covered for their lawlessness. Many journalists are silent by groups who hate an independent press. I use the language of poetry to talk about situations that journalists can face, in the connection with their reporting. I put their situations into other perspectives by also talking about others who go through similar circumstances like: authors, Greenpeace activists, freedom fighters, aid workers, NGOs, Human Rights activists etc.

Justice does not come cheap:

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.

Can you tell us what poetry means to you?

What poetry means to me something that that doesn't have to rhyme and it doesn't have to make a lot of sense. Poetry is a stuff that I haven learned, during my time as a high school student and now as a college student. The first time I wrote poetry, it was in 2003 and it was in Danish. I saw it as an opportunity for me to express myself different about different issues that were surrounding me and I was surprised because I never thought that I could write a poem. One of my old was very surprised too. I was like… I can write a poem. When I was a Christian, I used poetry to worship “God” as I was writing it at both www.allpoetry.com and www.poetry.com . In 2005, I kept writing poems at both poetry websites and I was even invited to become a member of the International Society of Poets, which no longer exists. Poetry speaks beyond logics and it’s a way to express myself emotionally about different situations. My favorite poets are: Hans Christian Andersen, Léopold Senghor, Martin Luther King and much more.

In the actual writing of your book, do you remember an “aha!” moment?

It was when Christiane Amanpour from CNN who is one of my favorite anchors. I was watching a documentary “Scream Bloody Murder” and by accident, I discovered her message. I was shocked about what she said because the press has a right to report where they are in the world. In the EU article 6, everyone has the right to be free. In article 11, it says that we have a right to freedom of speech and freedom of information. These are our fundamental rights. I watched her message on Youtube and I was really shocked about horrible situations journalists face in the connection with their reporting . That’s where I got my inspiration.

What poet do you admire?

My favorite poet is Simaro Massiya. N. Lutumba who is one of the greatest poets in Africa. He is also a singer. His music has inspired me, since I was a young kid. Simaro Massiya N. Lutumba is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is also known as Congo-Kinshasa. I salute him for his music and his poems. He is my number 1 favorite poet.

The poet Oscar Wilde once said, “The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.” What do you think he meant by that?

He means that when a critic finds something, which may be against the values we stand for, it’s his job to share it with the public so that the public can get educated. In order for the critic to do that, he needs to educate himself by someone else. It can be an artist, a mentor or he can find inspiration somewhere else that can be educative for him. You share what you know. You don’t share what you don’t know

What do you find frustrating about the world of publishing today and how does it compare to where you live now in Denmark?

Sometimes, when you promote your work and you keep working hard all the time, it can be frustrating when there are no results. You begin to ask yourself, what’s going on and you start to get discouraged little by little. But when I wrote my first book, I was aware that the book business is hard and in Denmark, it’s not any different. The thing that might be different in Denmark is that you find publishers in big cities and the book marketing is small, compare to America.

Do you have any mentors in Denmark that helped you find a publisher in America?

I don’t have any mentor who helped me find a publisher in the U.S. It’s something I did on my own. I have never had a mentor.

If you could say one thing to encourage writers to go on and become published authors, what would you say?

Don’t give up on your dreams. Go for it.
Thank you so much for this interview, Balthazar. Where might we find out more about you on the web?

You can find me at http://www.redroom.com/author/balthazar-rodrigue-nzomono-balenda . You can also find me at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Balthazar-Rodrigue-Nzomono-Balenda/62700587511.
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