Ber Anena

Ber Anena is a Ugandan poet and writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Atlantic, adda, Off Assignment, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. She’s the author of the award-winning poetry collection, A Nation in Labour. Anena is a Ph.D. student in English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  


Twitter: @ahpetite


A Journey by Beverage 


For Try

I’m seated at a sunlit table in a mid-western

American city, a navy blue cup warming my winter-cold fingers.

Inside the cup, porridge—a gift from Ghana.

I taste soy. I taste pepper. I taste groundnuts, 

millet, rice. I taste something else 

I don’t mind not knowing.  


But my body registers Uganda. Gulu.

I’m seated under the mango tree in Mama’s endless compound.

A radio coos next to us, a background melody to the stories

we’re catching up on. From the kitchen, the scent 

of multiple foods mate and waft outside 

to our eager nostrils.


I smell malakwang. I smell smoked beef.

I smell porridge with odii and honey. Here, in this faraway

land, I imagine a safe sea, the cup 

a non-rickety boat that won’t come 

undone should things get stormy—the weather

or the uniformed water keepers.



Ber Anena

Ber Anena is a Ugandan poet and writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Atlantic, adda, Off Assignment, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. She’s the author of the award-winning poetry collection, A Nation in Labour. Anena is a Ph.D. student in English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  

Ber Anena

A Journey by Beverage 


For Try

I’m seated at a sunlit table in a mid-western

American city, a navy blue cup warming my winter-cold fingers.

Inside the cup, porridge—a gift from Ghana.

I taste soy. I taste pepper. I taste groundnuts, 

millet, rice. I taste something else 

I don’t mind not knowing.  


But my body registers Uganda. Gulu.

I’m seated under the mango tree in Mama’s endless compound.

A radio coos next to us, a background melody to the stories

we’re catching up on. From the kitchen, the scent 

of multiple foods mate and waft outside 

to our eager nostrils.


I smell malakwang. I smell smoked beef.

I smell porridge with odii and honey. Here, in this faraway

land, I imagine a safe sea, the cup 

a non-rickety boat that won’t come 

undone should things get stormy—the weather

or the uniformed water keepers.



MENU