Over the past two decades or so, Zimbabwe has been experiencing extreme political and economic challenges. Amidst the challenges, there is also hope, resilience, music, stories, art, and poetry.
What are Zimbabwe's writers and poets saying about where they and the country are coming from, and where they might be going? What are they saying about themselves and the country's past, present and future?
To answer these and related questions, to celebrate and showcase some of Zimbabwe's finest writers and poets, and starting with Chisveru, a collection of poems by Tavengwa Kaponda, CivicLeicester will be publishing a series of poetry pamphlets by a range of Zimbabwean poets who write in some of the country's indigenous languages.
About Tavengwa Kaponda
Tavengwa Kaponda writes plays, short stories and poems in Shona. He also reviews books written and published in Shona. Some of his reviews have been published in The Herald, Zimbabwe's largest broadsheet, and some of his poems in the literary magazine, Tsotso. Kaponda has translated a number of poems from English into Shona as part of Journeys in Translation, an international poetry translation initiative that encourages the use of poetry and translation to facilitate inter-cultural and cross-cultural conversation on themes of home, refuge and belonging. One of Kaponda's own poems, "Nhemamsasa", was translated from Shona into English in a session of South Leicestershire Poetry Stanza in September 2016. Chisveru is Tavengwa Kaponda's first, single author, poetry collection.
About the Series' Editor
The series will be edited by CivicLeicester facilitator, Ambrose Musiyiwa, who is also the author of the poetry pamphlet, The Gospel According to Bobba. Musiyiwa co-edited Welcome to Leicester (Dahlia Publishing, 2016), an anthology that explores the story of Leicester through poetry. His poems have been featured in poetry anthologies that include Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for those seeking refuge (Five Leaves Publications, 2015), Do Something (Factor Fiction, 2016), and Write to be Counted (The Book Mill, 2017).
CivicLeicester is a community media channel that uses video, photography, social media, and the Arts, to highlight conversations taking place in and around Leicester.
About Poetry without Borders
Poetry without Borders is an initiative that aims to edit (or facilitate the editing of) and publish a series of poetry pamphlets - in vernacular languages - by writers from countries that are experiencing a form (or many forms) of turmoil or conflict. The pamphlets will present a view on what the writers think and say about the countries' past, present and future.
Some of the hinges / pivots of the idea are:
i. In some countries (e.g. Zimbabwe), because very few are publishing poetry in the vernacular, the perspective of writers who prefer to write in indigenous languages is not heard. The perspective that is heard is that of politicians, mainstream media outlets, and writers who write and speak in languages like English.
ii. Poetry without Borders is international in outlook because, for example, the series' editor and publisher are based in Leicester. Leicester is also one of the most diverse cities anywhere in the world. It is home to someone from everywhere. This is something which the city is proud of. Leicester could also be any major town or city anywhere in the world because of how such towns and cities bring people from everywhere together.
iii. Publishing the pamphlets can encourage a different kind of listening and conversation on life, conflict, and the world, a world that is now so connected that languages and borders are no longer insurmountable barriers.
iv. Poetry without Borders is informed by Journeys in Translation and will similarly encourage people who are bilingual or multilingual or who are learning other languages to translate poems in the series into other languages. Similarly, featured poets and others are encouraged to translate Journeys in Translation poems into other languages.
We are starting with Zimbabwean / Shona poet, Tavengwa Kaponda because the series' editor has read Kaponda's unpublished poems and thinks Kaponda is bringing a number of remarkable things to Shona poetry.
The image illustrating this appeal is from part of writer, artist and academic, Dr Corinne Fowler's illustration of "The Man Who Ran Through The Tunnel", a poem by Ambrose Musiyiwa, from Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for those seeking refuge (Five Leaves Publication, 2015, p1) that is also being used as part of Journeys in Translation.