‘Words that keep the fires aflame’

17 SEPTEMBER 2014 by Poetry International

In Zimbabwe poetry is alive and well. Over the next week, we present a special edition of work from nine Zimbabwean poets.

Back in March Poetry International held a spoken word poetry competition in collaboration with the Magamba Network and Shoko Festival. The submitted poems were judged by a panel, and we’re happy to present the resulting shortlist to you here.

During the 39th Poetry International Festival our Zimbabwe team wrote: “Zimbabwe is a country of poets. Zimbabweans write poetry, speak it and sing it in Shona, Ndebele, Tonga, Shangaan and other minority languages; we have poetry in English, praise, performance, oratorical, and declamatory poetry. Perhaps as many as one in six people writes poetry or takes pleasure from trying to do so.” We hope you enjoy this sampling of ‘words that keep the fires aflame’ in this diverse country, in their original languages and in translation:

Batsirai E. Chigama with ‘Sperm Box’
Christopher Chiwanza (a.k.a. Vokal da Poet) with ‘10’
Conarth Macheka with ‘As the Sun Sets’
Panashe Madziva (a.k.a. Arcane) with ‘Child Soldier’
Tswarelo Mothobe (a.k.a. Tswa) with ‘With a Pen’
Elizabeth Muchemwa (a.k.a. Zaza Muchemwa) with ‘Eve’
Gwinyai Runyowa (a.k.a. Verseless Philo) with ‘Be’
Rabison Shumba with ‘Know the Difference’
Tinofireyi Dennis Zhou (a.k.a. Aero5ol) with ‘Another Sound System is Possible’

Though we’ve included texts of the spoken word poems for your reading ease, the best way to experience these nine poems is to listen to them.

This poetry competition is part of a series of events building up to the Shoko Festival, which will take place in Harare, Zimbabwe from 25-28 September.


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