Registered under the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

31 July 2010

LIVE LITERATURE CENTRE EXPLODES INTO LIFE

Newsday, 31 July 2010

The Live Literature Centre at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) was a hive of activity yesterday with various performances putting up scintillating displays to the delight of the audiences.

Poets like Sympathy Sibanda and Nqobile Malinga displayed class acts with their poems.
Sibanda recently launched her debut poetry anthology Matters of Life which has set her up as a poet to watch for the future. She took the opportunity to speak about her book.

Malinga, a television presenter, added the flavour with his energetic performances. A strong believer in the oneness of all Zimbabweans, Malinga often fuses Shona, Ndebele and English in all his poems.

A new literary organisation, WIN-Zimbabwe had an hour of performances which founder Beaven Tapureta, described as "explosive".
A Mbare music group Pachena school of Arts also got a chance to showcase their music, which was warmly received by the audience.
The Group is currently riding on the crest wave of their new album Matsotsi.

There are going to be more showcases today at the Live Literature Centre as the weeklong literary affair draws to the close.

Tapureta whose organisation almost pulled out at the last minute from exhibiting owing to logistical problems said they were motivated by the response they got from book lovers.
"We thought we were not going to be visible but we've been motivated by the numbers of people who came to watch our performances and enquire about our organisation," he said.

Young performers were not left out as Tilda Gozho from Glen View High 2 left people clamouring for more after reciting her poem The Poor African Teacher.
A publisher who was part of the show James Nyamajiwa said they were going to put in place literary projects aimed at primary school pupils.

A Culture Fund representative Brighton Makuvaza also spoke about the fund and how young writers could be assisted to come up with quality works of art.

22 July 2010

WIN-ZIMBABWE PROUDLY PRESENTS
A unique, exciting programme during ZIBF

“LITERARY TREATS”

Venue: Live Literature Main Stage (Harare Gardens)

Time: 12 noon – 1 pm

Date: Friday, 30 July 2010

All are welcome, come and experience us!

21 July 2010

A JOURNEY OF EMPATHY



By Beaven Tapureta

Some journals of international art, literature, and ideas are excellent but they are infrequent in Zimbabwe.

Leafing through the latest issue of the Cosumnes River Journal (Spring 2010, Vol IV) got my day going. So much happens in our busy lives that sometimes bypass our conscious mind and when writers worth the name express the same things in their unique language, life takes a new route towards discovery.

Cosumnes River Journal is published annually by the English Department of Cosumnes River College (Sacramento, USA) where one of the journal’s editors, Zimbabwean writer and poet, Emmanuel Sigauke, lectures.

The latest issue is a mixed bag of compelling, skilfully written creative nonfiction, short stories, poems, and photographs.

Among the young writers featured is Zimbabwe’s rising poet Tinashe Muchuri (aka Mutumwapavi) (PICTURED), whose poem ‘Gestures’ radiates with an emotional yet powerful supplication, a quest to be free from the bondage of ‘unsaid words’. Muchuri’s poetry amplifies a moment, an experience, and an emotion; yet using a few, well chosen words he captures the essence of it all. This is not the first time that Muchuri has been featured in an international journal. His poetry has also appeared in Illuminations, Rattlesnake Review, and State of the Nation: Contemporary Zimbabwean Poetry, and on several websites such as StoryTime. Apart from writing, Muchuri performs his poetry at various local and regional festivals such as the forthcoming SADC Poetry Festival.

I also found interesting the creative nonfiction and short stories in Cosumnes River College journal, achieving what can be called ‘identification and empathy’, that is, in a sense, the pieces lure you to identify with the characters through a live language that invokes empathy. Skill fuses with emotion at best, instinctively.

Take for example, ‘Broken’ by Audrey Allen, in which although there is no mention of any character’s name, the reader can identify and feel empathetic for the narrator who loses (through a car accident) someone he loves dearly before he has said something very important to her, something that had been eating his mind, yet at pains to reveal it. There’s fast paced, tactful handling of fantasy and reality. Consequently, after the accident, the man is lonelier than before, and double-broken, so to speak. Allen, the writer, is only twenty, how creative!

‘Being First’ by MJ Lemire has much to say about children’s behaviour. If you are a parent, the story strikes you right between the eyes as it challenges you to think again about the little questions, which our children ask. ‘Being First’ is a vivid anecdote in which a parent, the narrator, closely follows the contrasting behaviours of her two kids Andrew and Grace. There is so much to the question posed by the inquisitive Grace to her mother: Why do we have a last name that starts with L?

Grace goes on to say, “ I never get to be first because L is in the middle of the alphabet. A’s get to go first. Even Z sometime has to go first when the teacher starts from the end. But forwards or backwards, I am always stuck in the middle. The teacher never lets the middle kids go first.”

Grace’s family last name, by the way, starts with an L and this, Grace thinks, is some kind of ‘jinx’. Andrew, on the other side, whose first name starts with an A, is a quiet boy who does not find any fault in the letter L and portrays an un-questioning character, which his parent fears may be tragic in his adulthood. I personally grew up like Andrew, so quiet but for me there was this feeling that there must be something special in ‘quietness’. It does not mean in danger you do not run. In Shona culture, possibly in African culture in general, being last, especially in the family, is a blessing, isn’t it!

There is an interesting subject of LUCK tackled from different perspectives in the last part of the journal, and a supplement of quotes about LUCK: Good &Bad, taken from a variety of international personalities such as Thomas Hardy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ralph Waldo Emerson (my favourite essayist), and Mark Twain.

Hear what an Arab proverb says about luck: Throw a man into the sea, and he will come up with a fish in his mouth.

The poems such as ‘Like the March of the Second Hand’ by John Hesselbein or Taylor Graham’s A Question Arrived While Waiting at the Lawyer’s, are meditative, narrative, musical and sensuous, involves the apperception of the inscape, something like that. The photographs appeal to the core of our emotions as much as the fiction does appeal to our responsive humanity.

Surely, the Cosumnes River Journal is worth browsing through in your office, in the bus, or at home, under a tree before a lecture starts (and only if you could grab a copy, which I know could be difficult!). The Cosumnes River Journal editors may be reading this, and well, really, we need more of the issues circulating in our writers’ clubs. For the budding writer, the journal opens spanking new avenues of seeing things and writing.

Well, for those who want to contribute to the journal, kindly send enquiries to Heather Hutcheson (hutcheh@crc.losrios.edu) between October 2010 and March 2011.


18 July 2010

THIS SEPTEMBER SUN, A BOOK YOU MUST READ!



Bryony Rheam’s This September Sun (ISBN: 978-0-7974-3744-9) published by ’amaBooks, Bulawayo, in 2009 has really opened a platform for literary conversation through reviews published in different outlets. Below are two more reviews, which we hope you will enjoy and trigger further interest in reading the book. Mungana’s review appeared in The Standard and the second review done by Phillip Chidavaenzi appeared in The Zimbabwean. Next to the reviews is a poem We Falter No More by Courage Muganji, which appeals to the winning instinct inherent in all of us who dream, see visions, the way we do, and form them into words on paper for others to see, feel, taste, hear, touch the truth and meaning of this world.


REVIEWER: FRANCIS MUNGANA

I must begin this review by confessing that prior to my reading Rheam’s This September Sun I had very little knowledge of the fictional works of white Rhodesian and Zimbabwean authors. As a university undergraduate majoring in English in the late 1980’s I was formally introduced to Doris Lessing’s The Grass is Singing, Arthur Shearly Cripps’ poetry and T.O. McLoughlin’s Karima and that was all. On my own I later read Lessing’s Collected African Stories, The Four Gated City and African Laughter, and I also delved into Ian Douglas Smith’s autobiography Bitter Harvest. This September Sun impressed me as a new refreshing breeze that offers an incisive insight into the Rhodesian and, later, Zimbabwean psyche.
The book is divided into three parts, though there is a chronological sequence in its progression. One is skilfully ushered, often through letters and diary entries, into a rich but complex tapestry of both Zimbabwean history and a family’s history and secrets. It is an intriguing and riveting story of the protagonist Ellie McIntyre and her grandmother Evelyn Saunders. The novel reminds me of Chenjerai Hove’s apt observation that one can best learn the history of a country by reading its fictional works, rather than visiting its history textbooks. This book, which reads as if it is autobiographical, is a great tale of the bond between Ellie and Gran Evelyn, a bond which goes beyond the latter’s death.
Part One opens with Zimbabwe celebrating its independence on 18 April 1980, which date coincides with the protagonist’s sixth birthday. This transition from the old world (Rhodesia) to a new one (Zimbabwe) mirrors the change in Evelyn Saunders who leaves her husband and embraces her own independence. In a peculiar way, the separation also signals an independence of sorts for Ellie who can now pay frequent visits to her beloved Gran who now lives alone. Henceforth we witness the growth and blooming of this very strong relationship. Part One closes with Gran’s gruesome murder, which also reflects the end of a chapter in the protagonist’s life. Parts Two and Three of the novel make use of Gran’s diary entries stretching from January 1946 to October 2004, shortly before her death at age 77. These diary entries gradually provide the missing blocks of the jigsaw puzzle of Gran’s eventful life as well as those of the others in Ellie’s family.
Through the diary entries, Ellie embarks on a journey to unearth the great mystery that her family is. She confesses that ‘all my life my grandmother had been a mystery to me. I was perhaps the dearest person to her, yet I knew the least about her.’(p 233) We witness Ellie moving from naivety and gullibility in the process of ‘dismantling the woman I thought I knew’ and her confrontation and interrogation of a ‘childhood of lies’. In the process, she resurrects a life littered with ‘the ghosts of yesterday’. It then dawns on Ellie that ‘the greatest journey we go on is inward towards our selves, rather than outwards and away.’(p 127) How true this statement is for both Ellie and Gran’s lives! Much as Gran detests being ‘surrounded by the ghosts of yesterday’ (p 265), she cannot exorcise these ghosts and the past haunts her relentlessly. It is a past mired in cuckolding her husband Leonard through her relationship with her lover with whom she has an affair reminiscent of Heathcliffe and Catherine’s in Charlotte Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. There is also the ghost of her son Jeremy, the facts of whose death come to light in the novel through Ellie’s reading of her grandmother’s diaries.
One cannot miss the political undertones that colour the pages of the novel. These political undercurrents, which constitute a subplot, offer an incisive insight into Rhodesia of the late 1940s right up to 18 April 1980. We are allowed glimpses of the racist mentality of the hardcore Rhodies who then refuse to come to terms with the reality of a new Zimbabwe. These are shown to have inflated egos and insist on sustaining a life constructed around fantasy and an irretrievable past. Rheam sums up these whites as those who ‘could’ve won the war if only Smith had not given into Nationalist aggression, those who had always been on the brink of victory when Smith had surrendered.’(p 24) There are those like Granddad who feel betrayed by the ‘bloody British… sold us down the river. Fought for King and country. For what? Where is their Empire now?’(p 86) There is also an indictment of the government of Zimbabwe by way of counterbalance. Its shortcomings are portrayed through the culture of fear and instability it inculcates, through the government’s handling of the dark period of dissident disturbances in Matabeleland and in correcting land imbalances. There is however hope in the book that the two races will coexist happily.
The way the book is structured adds to the richness of the narrative. The novel, just like the lives of the characters, does not have a clear beginning and a clear ending. There are constant shifts involving the present, the past and the future. One is reminded of the narrative style of literary greats such as Virginia Wolf, James Joyce and Dambudzo Marechera. When asked by another character about her life, Ellie retorts that ‘the beginning keeps changing.’(p 268) There is a frustrating search by Ellie for a beginning, for rejuvenation. It is from this that the novel gets its title: ‘There is a poetry to September, a song, a promise. It speaks of a new beginning, yet it heralds an end.’(p 115) Such is life, Ellie learns.
Minus the extensive use of extracts reproduced in the book that give it an air of being contrived and unnecessarily add to its volume, This September Sun is a rich addition to the canon of Zimbabwean and world literature. Bryony Rheam’s powerful voice must be accorded a niche in college and university syllabi.

About The Reviewer Francis Mungana is a lecturer in the Department of English and Communication at Midlands State University


REVIEWER: PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI

BRYONY Rheam may sound an unfamiliar name to some readers, but those who follow the trends in contemporary Zimbabwean literature will appreciate that she is no newcomer in the local literary circles. Some of her stories have appeared in the ‘Short Writings from Bulawayo’ series. The Zambian–based Zimbabwean teacher-cum-writer had just had her debut novel – ‘This September Sun’ – published by ’amaBooks.
The book tells the story of Ellie, intertwined with the tales of her loved ones, and how fate often interferes with people’s well-laid plans.
Over the past 10 years, many Zimbabweans have fled socio-economic hardships precipitated by an unstable political environment, in pursuit of the proverbial greener pastures and, as an icing to the cake, a better life.
But Rheam successfully punctures the romantic illusions that many locals have about the European Diaspora –especially in the UK – showing that London is, after all, not the paradise of our dreams, as those fleeing a collapsing nation would quickly admit. When the protagonist, Ellie, gets a chance to go to the UK, she’s overjoyed, but her stay there gives her a rare opportunity of introspection.
What I found striking was the fact that despite her joy at leaving Zimbabwe, when she gets to the UK, she felt “a dislocation” from her “surroundings” and learns that life “was unreal there” (pp125). The general assumption is that white Zimbabweans who go to the UK are better off and can fit in better than their black counterparts, but Rheam successfully enables the readers to disabuse themselves of this notion.
It would appear that dislocation from a familiar environment forces people to hold on to anything that keeps them firmly attached to their roots and this comes out strongly as Ellie begins to think so much about her home. She confesses: “I found myself reading African novels more and more: Nadine Gordimer, AndrĂ© Brink, Doris Lessing…” (pp135).
Rheam also poignantly captures what I would call the terror of the abortive land “reform” in Zimbabwe. Ellie’s return from the UK coincides with the people’s attempts at an artificial escape of the horror on the ground through turning to foreign news and locking themselves up in their homes.
The book is littered with deeply felt, moving scenes such as Ellie’s last encounter with Miles, when she receives the sad news of her grandmother’s murder and when she discusses the family history with her mother as well as the time she spends with Wally dying in a British hospital.
For the greater part, Rheam uses the epistolary style to narrate the story, with letters written by Ellie’s late grandmother revealing a lot of details about the family history and secrets as well as the grandmother’s past love affairs.
It is clear that death unveils a lot of information and secrets as you rummage through a deceased person’s belongings.
Although ‘This September Sun’ starts rather slowly, it’s an engaging novel that’s worth reading.


WE FALTER NO MORE

The initiative to win, granted
The seeds of inspiration can sprout

The little guns can now spit
The blue ink to victory
Liberate literary thoughts and watch them soar

We falter no more but walk to triumph
Achieve sleight of our minds
This potential is my panacea
Forever and ever
Amen

Courage Muganji, Braeside, Harare

12 July 2010

WIN-ZIMBABWE TO EXHIBIT AT ZIBF





Half-year old Win-Zimbabwe’s glow continues to shine despite teething difficulties, with the latest beam of hope being an opportunity to exhibit at this year’s Zimbabwe International Book Fair.

Win-Zimbabwe’s debut appearance at the Book Fair will, among other things, assert the organisation’s willpower to transcend all odds and make an impact on the local book industry.

According to the founding Director, Beaven Tapureta, (PICTURED) the organization plans to have an on-the-stand programme called “Literary Treats” where various writers and performance poets will briefly , possibly for an hour or two, entertain visitors to the stand. Literary Treats aims at making visitors enjoy reading and writing.

Tapureta has urged fellow young writers to take advantage of the Book Fair and gather much information about the local book industry’s main players such as publishers, organisations and booksellers.

“I know how much the Book Fair can assist, motivate new writers and inspire the public to buy books. I have been there so many times and gained vast knowledge about the local book industry. I therefore urge writing friends to make use of the various information shared at the book fair,” said Tapureta.

The ZIBF days are from the 26th to the 31st July at the Harare Gardens and the theme for this year is “Promoting Cross Cultural Dialogue”. However, the Indaba Conference which accommodates invited people only runs from the 26th to the 28th while public days for the ZIBF are from the 29th to 31st July, which is also the period for exhibitions.

Among other programmes, ZIBF is also coordinating the Live Literature Center programme which features upcoming and established performance poets, drama groups, and comedians. The Live Literature will be running from the 29th to 31st July starting at 10am to 5pm every day. More information for those wishing to take part is obtainable from the ZIBF Head Office on 04-704112 or 04-702104 or write to winzimbabwe@gmail.com for assistance.

You surely need not miss out this one.


11 July 2010

MAN OF FEW WORDS


Tinashe Muchuri


Naked
Father and mother collided
Naked
Bred this universal disaster

Bird
Every time a bird sings
I am touched
Its voice tells me
It is you singing to me

03 July 2010

NEW WRITERS' NETWORK LAUNCHED

plans to spread wings into Africa
Source: Newsday, Saturday, July 3, 2010


A group of Zimbabwean writers has established a writers’ association named Writers International Network Zimbabwe (Win-Zimbabwe) hoping to create synergies between local and internationally based Zimbabwean writers.
The brainchild of Beaven Tapureta, Win-Zimbabwe will also work towards training upcoming writers and offering opportunities for publication.
Tapureta, a former programmes officer with the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe said they had submitted documents with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe for registration.
“We’re currently in the process of registering. We have since submitted our papers to the National Arts Council,” he said, adding they were ready to operate.
The major thrust of Win-Zimbabwe, he said, was to establish a network of local writers and internationally based Zimbabwean authors.
“Win-Zimbabwe seeks to provide opportunities for intellectual empowerment and rewards for both rural and urban based upcoming writers in Zimbabwe,” he added.
Tapureta came up with this idea after realizing that young writers had limited opportunities for training and platforms to showcase their writing talent.
The 35-year-old Chitungwiza-born writer said in a bid to strengthen the new organisation’s structures, he had drawn on the wealth of influential figures in the writing community both in Zimbabwe and in the diaspora.
The writers include David Mungoshi, Ivor Hartmann and Sarudzayi Barnes.
The organisation’s priority, he said, was to focus on Zimbabwe but they had plans to spread their wings into Africa because “writing has no boundaries”.
The organization held its inaugural meeting in May, which was graced by prominent writers Memory Chirere, Virginia Phiri, Julius Chingono and Daniel Hwendaenda.