Thursday, May 21, 2015

KwaChirere reads Textures from 'amaBooks

Reviewing ‘TEXTURES’, a collection of poems by John Eppel and Togara Muzanenhamo, published in 2014 by ‘amaBooks.ISBN 978-0-7974-9498-5

Today, Thursday, 21 may 2015, we attend the Harare launch of Textures, a collection of poems by John Eppel and Togara Muzanenhamo. This will happen at the Book Café. The Bulawayo launch was sometime in March and I understand that the book was well received. In one online picture, the two poets are standing very close together. Togara’s face has a satisfied smile as he looks straight into the camera.  Eppel appears to be contemplating, almost saying under his breath, “We are finally there, young Togara. I told you.” That grey beard and specks give Eppel a grandfatherly look.

John Eppel is a big name in Zimbabwean writing. He is a serious satirist most of the times and you need to climb up to his high sense of humour to fully appreciate him. You cannot go through Eppel without a re-read. He is master of irony. I tend to pick him in the second or third reading and at every step,  I pick out something new. I do not allow him to frustrate me. There is always more onion under the onion. We haven’t met (having only read his works that are everywhere in Zimbabwe) and I do not yet know the texture of his voice or the feel of his hand.

If we meet today I want to ask him, “What are all those birds doing in your latest poems?”  In our country there are many birds that sing, good and bad. Some stand for death and some- good fortune. That brings me to Eppel’s poem, ‘Cape Turtle Dove’ which I enjoy immensely because I have also been very close to doves all my life. Of all the habits of the dove, the persona here is most touched by dove song which is haunting ‘like well-loved landscapes lately lit’. And the poem ends. The poem brings me back to the veldt with a deep sense of nostalgia. I am lost in my childhood when a dove was as commonplace as maize seed and the bushes themselves. The dove is the typical character in typical circumstances.

There is also ‘Grey Heron’ in which the bird is first described elaborately like you find characters being described at the point of entry in a detective novel. This particular heron is like ‘some poets’, lonely, calm but sometimes- suddenly swift and aggressive. Are these birds not like the people that we know? This time Eppel puts aside the political subject and goes bird watching! In order to come back rejuvenated? But are these birds not Eppel’s usual political animals now resurrected as birds? But Eppel is not aggressive now when working with birds. He is at his most soulful pitch. He is awestruck by the presence of various birds. He wishes he were a bird, too, far away from the madding crowd. Is age catching up with Eppel? Will I get used to the new Eppel? He is uncharacteristically calm and even prayerful… I am thinking.

Then I come to ‘Golden Orb Spider.’ This is my favourite poem in this whole book because we start with the spider and end up elsewhere! The spider at work becomes the genius; a Mozart, a Marechera, a Thomas Hardy etc. But the spider traps, mangles and kills its victims too, with the help of its web!

Today, if I have the chance, I will ask Eppel, “Sir, I think you come across as lonely!”  In ‘A Surburban Night in August’  there is something of T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock! I mean, the image of the wandering and sleep walking male loner, soaking it all in. Walking slowly in the dark, concerned with the losses of a distant past. I think ‘Looking for You’ is a quest for love lost. I also think the same about ‘Solvitur Ambulando’ where the loner is walking in the moonlight, choosing to solve the problem not by talking but by walking. Being a habitual walker myself, I know how walking heals a troubled mind and how one feels like forgiving the whole world after a long walk.

The sonnet sequence based on the area around the Bulawayo Dams is a must read. But once more, there are no people here, except for the aloes, the rocks and the insects. The persona takes in the world all by himself like John the Baptist- the hermit. It is when you are alone that you are able to place yourself within time. Here is John Eppel’s questing spirit.

I must also confess that I like some of Eppel's word combinations in Textures. Here are some: ‘The world is waiting, trembling like a mouse.’ Then there is: ‘There is something human about aloes.’ I also like: ‘Last night the blue moon brought you back to me.’ Sad. John Eppel is sad. But under that sadness there is the satisfaction that always come out of pining and suffering. Flogging the self in order to arrive at a certain purity and release.

Togara Muzanenhamo’s poems are dense. That is an honest warning! The constant allusions to characters in far away lands and in broad human history, is bound to challenge the uninitiated. He comes across as a very well read and travelled poet. He is always in control.

This poet is serious and unrelenting. And you feel that these poems were written and rewritten because they have deep links with humanity in various climes. You search for your own spot until you find it in his universe of feelings and thoughts. The other fortunate part is that  Muzanenhamo’s style is like the slow bold stroke of a brush. He cascades. He is long drawn. He goes for sounds that words make. He goes for the colour that certain word combinations make. Reading Muzanenhamo is like listening to a cat purring! Or, listening to a distant bulldozer ‘eating’ the terrain, constructing a dam or a leveling an ant heap.

In ‘Gondershe’ the story of the boy with a gun by the sea comes to one very gradually. The boy by the sea has to be seen and felt and he is here to feel and see the sea one last time. Will he shoot himself, you keep wondering. Will he go back home? Or, is the boy not your shadow? The sea is a powerful force in Muzanenhamo’s poems. The sea has a calming effect. The sea makes a useful backdrop to the poem ‘Desire’ where the persona ‘felt good being back on the water.’ It takes the sea for the man to see his woman for what she really is- an invitation to carnal and spiritual satiety. The turmoil is hidden underneath the style.

This takes me to the prose poem ‘Peruvian Sunsets’ where a woman is at one special moment of making love to both a shell shocked man and the old city, right there in a public park at sunset. We glimpse them just a few moments before they are consumed in their gradual but hungry passions. The power of flesh is deeply felt here.

I also enjoyed (but was also dazzled) by what happens to one Uzziah Chikambi in the other prose poem. A man with a ready gun walks towards both a ghost and his very own past. The edges of reality are so blunt that you realize that we often dream regardless of our wakefulness. I also felt the same with ‘Engine Philosophers’ because sometimes we are consumed in work and think about work and its history and the endless yet to be touched futures of those who work tools and engines with their hands and souls.

My favourite poem by Muzanenhamo is ‘Zvita’ because it terrifies me beyond explanation. I also am in the habit of constantly thinking about what happens to the body when it dies or after it is buried or when it is abandoned out there, unburied. Forbidden territory! How does it help you to think about a body’s condition after burial? That is why human bodies have to be buried...But you find yourself going in that direction. Maybe because the body is the only real terrain we have between ourselves and the world itself. ‘Zvita’is not a poem for the faint hearted. The body is a very fragile and temporary thing.

Textures is a collection with poems that speak about what we see and feel as we glimpse a world that is passing by. You come away with the feeling that the experience of the senses cannot be substituted with any other thing. This is a book about precious feelings.
++Memory Chirere, Harare

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

David Mungoshi returns to the source as Zimbabwe Independence day beckons!

Pic Tsvangirai Mukwazhi

Nhambwe Dzongosienda
   (NaDavid Mungoshi)
Muna Zvita mvura yanaya
taidya matufu nemashuku.
Kuzoti hute mugute mubani riya
raiva ‘jahwi,’ Changamire wangu.
Maroro kana aibva waizvinzwa mumhepo
Kungoti gare gare hedzo nzviro nenhunguru
Haiwa tsubvu hatitaure, tongomafura.
Nhasi uno changamire wangu
yangova nhorowondo.
Ndiani achaziva zhumwi kana n’ono?
Ndiani achiri kubvura nzungu mumunda
kana kukamira mukaka mudemhe redamba
achizoukodza pakarepo nemuto wematunduru?
Nhambwe dzongosienda, changamire wangu
Zvosvota semaonde kuona zvoita nyika
Mabasa aivava vokuuya ava!
Maitiro avo kuda kufumura zvinoera
Nhasi Mahomed Dada aripi
zvaakatsakatika mugomo tichazomuwana here?
Hamhenoka, zvichida tichasutswa nemasutso
 ati kudai kuswedera aya, idzo haya dzatiwo zii
Dai bere rikarutsa imvi tingazive zvakawira vatsakatiki.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

German (language) version of Bhuku Risina Basa... coming soon!

Magdalena Pfalzgraf is working on a German translation of the Nama Award winning Bhuku Risina Basa Nokuti Rakanyorwa Masikati. It will be called: 'Ein unnützes Buch, es wurde tagsüber geschrieben'
Read the German version of poem 'Muna Leopold Takawira' ( 21) below:

Auf der Leopold Takawira Straße
Ich war auf der Leopold Takawira unterwegs,

auf der Suche nach einem Paar bezahlbarer Schuhe.

Da sah ich diesen riesigen Polizisten,

er führte einen mageren Jungen in Handschellen davon.

So ein kleiner Taschendieb, dachte ich.

Mir gefielen die roten Augen des Jungen nicht,

und auch nicht die langen Hosen,

die bis zu seinen Schuhen mit den schiefen Sohlen gingen.

Aber ich schaute mir trotzdem die Handschellen an, denn

„Ich hasse, was den blinden Impuls des Menschen stört.“


„Ich weiß nur zu gut, wie sich ein eingesperrter Vogel fühlt.“

Und dann, als die beiden an mir vorbeigingen,

sagt der Junge zum Beamten;
„Ich wusste nicht, dass Du da um die Ecke stehst.

Hab mich wohl verschätzt!“

Den ganzen Tag bis in die Nacht fragte ich mich,

warum die beiden wie Freunde aussahen.

Auf dem Weg zurück,

in das Dorf ihrer Herkunft.




Monday, March 30, 2015

Shepherd Mutamba finally launched 'Tuku Backstage' in Harare on Saturday 28 March 2015


Mutamba shows the book during his speech

Mutamba signs a copy. Available at the Book Café, Harare.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

David Mungoshi's new sequence

Just a hitch-hiker’s fantasy
(by David Mungoshi)

With fluid ease
she  leaned against the window of the open truck
And let the baby play with her nipples

The vehicle tore into the miles and left behind a long yawning road
And with the soft pink towel

from inside the baby bag
She wiped the milk oozing down  her dress

and let the wind do the rest
The supple and heavenly figure of a sweet temptress
in a peasant woman's cotton dress

that transcended the limitations
Exploded into the poet's consciousness through a view
of shapely legs

that could have easily won plaudits and a review
in some avant garde collector's item man's magazine
All this and more,

the poet thought and felt from the back of the truck
The older woman, the mother of the husband, so the poet learned
Had a twinkle in her eye

and a smile that said it was all right to flirt
And for just a short while be the village belle that strangers could adore
and poets could wax lyrical about in a poem about valued female assets
She too

was having her fun
in a kind of delayed season mode -vicariously on that grand stage
at the back of a swift truck
where dreams died all too soon as one's station loomed nearer
The poet

took it all in, in a glance
that lingered upon the woman's lips
The quiver there was rich

with the abundant promise of a free spirit
Daring him with her eyes to take her there and then

on wings of fancy
To ravish her upon a soft earthen altar 'neath the tropical sky
In that fleeting moment

the world stood still though the truck sped by
And their wayward souls willed a merger of their hungry longings
Then she laughed

a coarse laugh
spiced with raw desire
and just like that the moment was gone; and they both knew it,

but she of the face without make-up, she, a woman and a free spirit,
had won against a gaping poet with a note book and lots of words in his heart

and puzzled
by the intensity of the moment
and the lessons

he still had to learn,
the poet

told himself he would do so soon
on a lazy October afternoon in the heat of the hot dry season
If she still would play,

and if the husband's mother would hum a tune,  
keep the baby quiet
and lull her to sleep with a drowsy lullaby
It was

all just a fantasy, the poet conceded with some reluctance,
something you dream up when you hitch-hike

 *** This is a very recent poem. The poet is currently working on a sequence to be called: 'Love and Hurt' - The Poems of David Mungoshi.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Zibf 2015 Indaba call for papers






On behalf of the Executive Board of The Zimbabwe International Book Fair Association, I wish to advise that the approved Theme for 2015 is – Growing the Knowledge Economy through Research, Writing, Publishing and Reading. We are, therefore, pleased to announce that the dates for The Zimbabwe International Book Fair have been set for 27 July – 1 August 2015 while The Indaba Conference is slated for 27 and 28 July.

In arriving at this Theme, the Executive Board took into account the many diverse recommendations made by participants at the conclusion of the 2014 Indaba and extracted the general spirit of those recommendations in order to determine this Theme.


The subject of Creative Industries and the Knowledge Economy is a vast contemporary phenomenon that cuts across all forms of creativity, storytelling, writing, publishing, architecture, graphics, dancing, technology, theatre, the film industry, motivational speaking, advertising etc.  Our view is that it is time we engaged this illuminating contemporary subject which would more than adequately address the interests of a vast majority of our stakeholders and bolster the impact of the arts and humanities research in the creative economy, at large where the new digital revolutions beckon ceaselessly for those eager to exploit the opportunities they offer.


We live in an age where it is easy to lose sight of the interconnectedness of human activities where the quest for knowledge, its application and propagation is not always linked; where the arts appear disparate from discipline to discipline and are encouraged to remain scattered entities uninformed by a common spirit; where creative writing and research are not accorded their complimentary nature and where literary skills are only seen as the raw materials of publishing industries rather than complimentary activities in the advancement of knowledge; where the Internet and social networks have yet to be appreciated as not just platforms for the communication of fellow feelings among groups but as fora for exchange and dissemination of knowledge and even publication of creative products; and even more critically, where the potential for marketing and selling of individual productions for economic benefit have yet to be fully appreciated.



Abstracts of not more than 500 words and inquiries shall be received at the following email addresses: copy up to 15 April 2015 for reviewing by the ZIBF Indaba organizers and will be reviewed anonymously. Please note that the topics provided below are meant as guidelines and so presenters are at liberty to submit Abstracts that best fit the spirit of the given Theme.  Selected participants shall be notified by 30 April 2015 for development of their full conference papers. The final Papers should be submitted to the above e-mail addresses by 30 June 2015.



                1.  What do We Need to Know About the Creative Economy?

2.   Non Fiction Writing

                3.  Adding Value to Creative Writing in the Age of Digital Revolutions and Social Media

                4.   Who needs Academic Writing?

                5.   Research, Writing and the Creative Industries



                1.   Place of the Book Value Chain in the Book Industry

                2.   Book Marketing Across Africa: What Went Wrong?

                3.   Incentivizing Reading, Publishing, Sale and Distribution for African Books

                4.   Channel Structure, Management and Design Issues

                5.   Black and Grey Markets

                6.   Ethical Practices

                7.   Roles of MOPSE as Customer Regulator



1.       Book Selection, Procurement and Distribution

2.       Language Policy and Democratization of Creativity and Knowledge

3.       Literacy Without Reading – an African Curse

4.       Mediating Between Creativity and Censorship

5.       Towards a Reading Culture



1.       The Importance of IP Law in Safeguarding the Knowledge Economy

2.       Models of Success in Fighting Piracy/in the Anti-Piracy Fight

3.       IP in the Digital Space

4.       Free Access to and Exchange of Knowledge versus the Demands of Copyright



                1.   Libraries in the Promotion of Development

                2.   The Virtual Library of Knowledge Systems

                3.   Archiving in the Digital Era

                4.   Promoting Literate Environments



                1.   The Changing Face of Publishing in Africa

                2.   Writing and Publishing for the Challenged

                3.   Digitization of African Knowledge, Science and Medicine

                4.   Research on Patterns of Writing, Publishing and Reading in Zimbabwe and Africa

                5.   Digital Publishing

Musaemura B Zimunya

Chair, Executive Board, Zimbabwe International Book Fair Association


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tinashe Muchuri's debut novel

the cover! We will soon preview this amazing novel.