Ngwatilo is a poet, editor and corporate sellout. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, where she was a Li Tze Fong Scholar and received the R. Howard Webster Fellowship and N.H. Benson International Graduate Award.
A Callaloo Fellow, twice shortlisted for the Brunel University African Poetry Prize, she has also been a Bundanon Trust Residency recipient through The Africa Centre. She is currently at work on her first full-length manuscript in poetry, Witness & Dream, which explores the lived experience of diverse rural Kenyan communities with whom she lived between 2012 and 2013. Ngwatilo’s poems have appeared Transition, Poetry is Dead, Obsidian, Kwani?, One Throne Magazine among other respected journals and magazines.
Ngwatilo loves to garden and travel and play with food. She’s especially into cheap thrills. She makes her living as a copywriter and digital strategist in Nairobi where she’s developed 360 and digital advertising campaigns for various national and international brands, ranging from financial services, government bodies, FMCGs, motoring, and nonprofits. Her clients have included Cadbury Kenya, Toyota Kenya, Amref, Telkom Kenya, Safaricom’s M-Soko, Visa, Tala (Formerly Mkopo Rahisi), East Africa Breweries Limited, among others. She lived a previous life as an actress for TV and film.
Ngwatilo graduated from St. Lawrence University with a bachelor’s degree in Music (and life!) A Kenya Scholar, she also received a Tanner Fellowship for independent study during her years there, which she spent investigating Kwaito music in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was also awarded the James L Price III Memorial Prize in Poetry, and received a St. Lawrence University Fellowship, which she spent developing a manuscript under the mentorship of Duriel E. Harris.
A quick note on pronunciation:
NGWA-ti-lo sounds a bit like GUA(comole) - ti (as in Timber) - lo (as in jello). The stress on the first syllable, the ‘n’ at the back of the throat.
Yes, it means something cool. :)