Registered under the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

08 April 2011

WINZ Newsletter, Issue No 17

Welcome to the seventeenth issue of our newsletter, featuring poet Wizzy Mangoma and the progressive Regular Writer column with Muchuri. This time Muchuri brings us an exclusive interview he did with award-winning author Memory Chirere to examine another form of poetry performance that most of us hardly knew about in definite terms. See you also on Tuesday at the Book Café where Petina Gappah, author of award winning book An Elegy for Easterly, will be discussing 'literacy' in Zimbabwe. On another note, authors of the poems published on our blog would be glad hearing what you think about their poems. The blog, after all, is a platform for debate and discussion. Enjoy....

Literary Discussion with Petina Gappah

Petina Gappah
                                                                 Photo: Sarah Lee

TUE 12, 5.30-7pm, Literary discussion: ‘READING IN ZIMBABWE’ – Award-winning writer PETINA GAPPAH discusses the importance and pleasure of reading and explores how Zimbabwe can truly become a literate country – with writers Ian Holding, Daniel Mandishona and Blessing Musariri.  Presented by the Harare City Library and Pamberi Trust. (Information obtained from the Book Cafe)

Be There!



Tinashe “Mutumwapavi” Muchuri

An enlightening afternoon with Memory Chirere

We sat in the refreshing, afternoon serenity of the University of Zimbabwe’s certain senior common room discussing types of performance poetry. Outside, university students’ voices twittered, roared, screamed but they only made the birds fly away but not us two.

It was an afternoon with a difference.  

We had other fish to fry before we discussed a certain form of spoken word called ‘read-performance poetry’.

Many poets believe that performance poetry is only the active gesticulations, chanting, jumping and toy toying on stage in front of an audience. Last year, when Poetry Africa came to Harare, young poets who regularly perform at the Book Café were confused as some of the host poets such as Musaemura Zimunya and Freedom Nyamubaya began to ‘read’ their poetry.

The young poets said that these poets are not performers but readers.

I had to find out the truth about this from one of the established poets.

Memory Chirere, who has recited as well as read his poetry on many occasions in Harare and beyond, said that he too misunderstood it when he first came to the University of Zimbabwe and happened to attend a poetry performance function at the campus. Chenjerai Hove and Charles Mungoshi, who were among the participating poets, were reading from their books or pieces of paper. Later on, he grasped the essence of it all.

“Reading is performance in the sense that the performer reads aloud. Loud reading stimulates action. It recalls emotions by vocally dramatising the story inside the poem,” said Chirere.

Asked who usually use this kind of performance, Chirere said, “Read-performance poetry is done by those people who are more into literature; people who have more respect for the written word and have an understanding of drama. These ‘reading performers’ think that memorizing a poem is cheating. Read-performance poetry can only be done successfully by those who understand the intention of the poem and its context. These poets also understand that each reading is new depending on the mood & place. Read-performance poets think it shows dishonesty to perform their poetry to an audience.”

Chirere said that if you look properly, you could discover that those who perform their poetry are likely to end up starting bands, the likes of Cde Fatso (Chabvondoka), Outspoken (the Essence), Chirikure Chirikure ( Detembira), and Albert Nyathi (Imbongi).

However, there are those who straddle read-performance poetry and other forms of performance poetry. For example, Ignatius Mabasa and Albert Nyathi, among others.

Chirere said those who read their poetry use their voice as an instrument. Reading is observed as a high culture. It is elitist.     

Asked if read-performance poetry would survive the stiff competition that it gets from the common performance poetry, Chirere said this form is not new but was alive before the emergence of slam poetry in our poetry circles. He remembered the reading event that was held at the Gallery Delta where he read from Mungoshi’s book, Zimunya read the late Edison Zvobgo poetry and someone from ZBC read a piece from Yvonne Vera’s work.

According to Chirere, read-performance poetry is generally done by writers who are generally readers. Many people do not like it because it reminds them of books and the classroom. It is not popular these days because it demands a lot of discipline.

Chirere also recalled what he saw at the Poetry Africa festival at the Book Cafe in September of 2010. He mentioned as examples the performance particularly of USA-based Malawi poet and publisher Frank Chipasula, and of a female poet from Tanzania.

Read-performance is associated with Book Fairs and Universities and only succeeds if you have a converted audience. 

Asked how he mastered this form of poetry performance, Chirere said Shona literature provided a starting point.

“My teacher used to ask me to read a whole Shona book aloud to the class. Afterwards, my classmates began to associate certain Shona titles with me. Every time they saw some Shona novels set for our literature studies,  they were reminded of how fluently and dramatically I read the books to them. This is why I said read-performance poets have an ‘attitude’ towards the book. Performance poetry, as we know it, is equivalent to chanting. It requires a lot of energy. It is mostly associated with young people. Read-performance poetry’s audience is small, mostly comprising decision makers while performance poetry is generally for the working class, which is an active consumer of poetry. Reading demands reflection and performance demands action” said Chirere who strongly believed this kind of poetry rendition will one day become popular again because it has been there from the time of Charles Dickens.

Indeed, this was a learning afternoon, as I felt like one of those students at the University of Zimbabwe, curious to know about all the confusions we make about what we think we know better than anyone else does. As one can see, there are truths about all  that we do, only if we look deeper and ask further

Chirere is an award-winning author with three books to his credit, namely, Somewhere in This Country, Tudikidiki and Toriro and His Goats & Other Stories. For more information about Chirere, feel free to visit his blog.

Until next time, cheers.

Feel free to send comments and views that you want discussed to Tinashe Muchuri, email    or


A Seed I See

Wizzy Mangoma (pictured above)

I see a seed
in a place where the sun shines,
I see a seed
in a place where the soil is rich,
looking for hearts to reach
in a place where there is water for it to grow
where it can sprout in a row
I see a seed in a place with so much space
the roots can  spread and gaze
I see a seed longing for a voice
with true tones of cultivation
I see a seed
crying tears of love
to the skies above

I see a seed
harmonious colours
bright ever seen
to bless all children, the lost souls
I see a seed with a future
standing straight and tall
I see a seed
erect and proud,
and stout of will
I see a seed
resting for ever green
as it becomes a peaceful bean
I see a seed.... AFRICA!

(Copyright © Wizzy Mangoma)

Wizzy Mangoma is a Writer, Spoken Word Artist, Screenplay Writer, Story Teller Dancer/Choreographer, Actress, Model, Designer, Event Coordinator, and Motivational Speaker with a head full of colorful dreams. In 2010, she published a poetry collection titled Moment Treasures (ISBN 1451557612, Createspace). In this anthology, there are poems about life, love, happiness as well as sorrow, which everyone carries. The author welcomes her audience to experience her thoughts and energy. Moment Treasures is available on Amazon.Com. Zimbabwean by origin, she resided in Denmark and spent most of her time traveling around the globe through theater, dance, also to host fashion shows with her designs and other African designs. And, out of a sheer interest to absorb other cultures, Wizzy sees herself as a student of life who is forever developing. She feels inspired by helping those around her especially children. She has worked with children from all backgrounds including children with special needs whom she feels have a lot to offer. She also participated as a chairperson for a charity organization called
United Way. And, has been an Area Marketing Director coordinating various community charity campaigns like Breast Cancer, Operation Smile (for children born with cleft) and D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). She is strongly connected to organizations since she feels that giving is the best gift ever. Wizzy is always creating. Her passion is to help inspire and empower people especially women.

Take care of yourselves during the Easter Holidays


  1. Powerful poetry. I like this voice, umm. Strong, you are great Wizz

  2. Thank you Anonymous....I am motivated!