Registered under the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

23 August 2011

WINZ Newsletter, Issue No 34


Greetings again! So much has been happening and we hope we find you well. Zimbabwe lost one of its heroes, a sad loss, but l hope as artists we will be able to celebrate this life and capture the essentials that make  Solomon Mujuru a national hero so as to inspire future generations.
The highlights of the various workshops and festivals reveal that the arts are alive in Zimbabwe. We need to keep working together, encouraging and mentoring each other whenever possible. On that note Win-Zimbabwe would like to extend its gratitude to Georgia Ann Banks-Martin for the online poetry workshop. Thank you again to the poets who participated because we hope you will pass on the skills you acquired.
Win-Zimbabwe has a mentoring programme that targets schools so that we catch them young and help develop talents. It is our hope that this programme will be able to function at a national level and accommodate all spaces, rural, urban and peri-urban.
Remember the best writer is one who reads a lot. So keep on reading and keep on writing! 

Josephine Muganiwa - Board Chairperson

By Beaven Tapureta, WIN-Zimbabwe Founder & Director (pictured below)


One of the 2011 ZIBF outstanding events was the Writers’ Workshop which discussed the writer-computer relationship on July 30, 2011 at the National Art Gallery, Harare. Certainly, the two-day Indaba conference which precedes other Book Fair events was also an educative issues-based literary platform, laden with much relevance for the local book sector. Yet if truth be told, the ZIBF Writers’ Workshop, led by Fungai James Tichawangana, had a certain influence upon authors, especially local ones.
Interesting to note that the ZIBF Writers’ Workshop took place at a time when Win-Zimbabwe was conducting an online poetry workshop in the background during the months of June and July and the two ventures tied well. While the one-day ZIBF Writers’ Workshop sought to harness helpful mechanics of the internet for local writers, the Win-Zimbabwe online poetry workshop mainly assumed participants are average internet users and/or that they have internet access once or twice a week. That being the case, the facilitator, American poet Georgia Ann Banks-Martin who came on an un-paid basis and mainly wanted to assist local poets, did not waste time to introduce the selected group of Zimbabwean young poets to a discussion of ekphrastic poetry.
Ten local poets, the young and eager to go, were selected for the June/July online poetry workshop.
Conversely, what initially augured to be an enthusiastic workshop suddenly turned into a complex learning opportunity for half of the participants who found it ‘labyrinthine’ and tricky to post anything to the Win-Zimbabwe Google Group created by the facilitator. (Only members could access, view group content and post.) Some of the participants who communicated cited challenges with logging in to the online group and the limitation of internet time.
This urges us, as an association, to counsel that writers need to persevere on acquring more internet skills, and most of all, a sense of wanting to learn new things even if those things are offered by other organizations apart from Win-Zimbabwe.

Notes from the Workshop

 The workshop, mainly focusing on ekphrastic poetry, started with poets introducing themselves and posting their profiles to the Google Group which was to serve as the online meeting place for the poetry workshop with Georgia Ann Banks-Martin (pictured left). Group members needed to post their poems and comments via a group email. 
Ekphrastic poetry, Georgia Martin said, is poetry inspired by other actual works of art and traditionally, it describes a work of art.
The first assignment involved posting to the group two poems, one on anything and the other an ekphrastic poem, every week. A few poets, however, managed to satisfy the assignment. Georgia Martin provided a link ( to some visual artwork to practice with and further provided some useful basic notes on ekphrastic poetry using earliest examples of ekphrastic writings of well-known world poets such as Homer, John Keats, William Carlos William, Mary Jo Bang and others.
She gave detailed notes on how these poets used ekphrastic poetry in different ways to achieve unusual effects and ultimately contributed to its (that is, ekphrastic poetry’s) ramifications in meaning and purpose.
She noted that ekphrastic poetry has its own limitations such as confining a poet to the exploration of a single work, thereby producing a “verbal snapshot rather than a stand-alone work of art”.
However, she said the positive aspect of this type of poetry is that it provides “a way for poets to make their descriptions and characterizations richer; allowing room for such moments to become notional manifestations of the writers’ imagination designed to hold the interest of an audience, while creating and preserving certain cultural myths”.
About the effects of the ‘new world’ on ekphrastic poetry, Georgia Martin said, “Life has changed most of the images we accept as art, they are really bits of celluloid and our world is populated by people who are charged with controlling such threats as nuclear power plant meltdowns, life for the average person goes on as normal; the lawn still must be cut and art still provides a safe place for us to go when things get too hard, despite the fact that our understanding and expectations change. Also, it should be stated that the definition of ekphrastic poetry should be broad to take into account those changes.”
Georgia further explained the meaning of ‘notional ekphrasis’, with samples from Robert Browning works.
Georgia’s second assignment in June involved choosing a new painting and imagining what it is like inside the picture. Participants were urged to ask questions such as ‘Is it hot?’, ‘What are the people doing and are they good people or evil people?’ Then last the participants were expected to write a poem that describes the painting but also to tell the story of what is going on, of how one feels when seeing the painting.
Poet Tinashe Muchuri and Bulawayo-based protest poet Bhekumusa Moyo who seemed to have understood the concept of ekphrastic poetry posted illuminating poems which others commented.
Bhekumusa Moyo posted his poem ‘Run’ which he said was inspired by a photo taken at the height of the 2000 mass demonstrations in the country. The picture, he said, had lots of meaning to him as a protest poet.
Despite staying in an area far from the internet, Patrick Hwande occasionally chipped in with a number of his poems and made sure he left a comment. Hwande has just published his debut poetry collection ‘Echoes of Blunt Voices’ which Tinashe Muchuri briefly talked about in the previous issue of the WINZ Newsletter.
In June the facilitator commented, “I'm really impressed with the poems that you
have sent to me and the poems you have posted to the group.”
Win-Zimbabwe decided to extend the workshop to July to accommodate others who were lagging behind. Initially the workshop was only running until end of June but it then ended in July.
An interesting workshop, it exposed poets to contemporary discourse on ekphrastic poetry. As an association, the workshop had lot of lessons.
Georgia Ann Banks-Martin currently lives in Montgomery, USA. She said she began writing in grade school, but became serious about writing poetry around grade 10. Her inspiration mostly comes from her own life and historical events. Examples of her work can be found on her webpage

Tinashe ‘Mutumwapavi’ Muchuri

Reflections on Chimanimani Arts Festival

This year’s edition of the Chimanimani Arts Festival was an unforgettable event for me. Usually, the festival is officially opened by a traditional chief, and this makes the whole event unique and different from other arts festival in the country.
In this year’s edition after the chief’ blessing ceremony on Friday evening, the Chimanimani Senator also had an opportunity to encourage peace among the people of Zimbabwe. She said arts are a unifying element bringing together people from varied backgrounds, be it political, religious, or social.
The Festival, a free event, took place from August 12 to 14 with fabulous performances in theatre, poetry, music, and traditional dance. There were also exhibitors in the crafts section. However, the Festival wasn’t embraced by well known artists as organizers designed it in such a way that it mainly caters for artists from the Chimanimani community.
 Jusa Mupostori, a dancehall artist whose lyrics have taken Manicaland by storm, was among other talented Manicaland musicians such as Rutendo and the Reverb, Orchestra Mberiyotose and Chimanimani ZCC Stars.
A young female poet called Choice who sat next to me at the Blue Moon Youth Zone told me she wished to perform at bigger arenas but had not yet been given a chance to fine-tune her skills.
Of all the shows that took place at the Festival I enjoyed the time I spent with children of Chimanimani as they demonstrated their storytelling gifts to their peers at the Blue Moon Youth Zone stage.
If one sees the children playing around in the township and villages of Chimanimani district, one would hardily recognize the talents in them. My time with these children proved to me that Zimbabwe has un-tapped talent. I was shocked to discover how much unexposed talent there was in Chimanimani. The children’s storytelling skills actually showed storytelling is still alive in the families from which these kids came from. Their vibrant understanding of the art told me that there is a mother out there who is still telling stories to her children, that there is an aunt who still has time for storytelling with her nieces and nephews, that there are grandparents who still share their cultural experience with their grandchildren. 
But I discovered that something needs to be done to include the literary arts in the Festival. As I left Chimanimani, I felt something kicking in me. It is not enough only to decent on Chimanimani and bombard this border town with the arts and then wait for another year to descent again on it with the same thing. I believe the hard-working Chimanimani Arts Festival Trust will keep on developing Chimanimani upcoming artists through regular skills training programs. This I hope will develop the arts in Chimanimani and expose the artists from this border town to the greater world.
Overall, Chimanimani Arts Festival remains unbeatably the one!

(Daily Monitor)

(Emmanuel Sigauke teaches composition, literature and creative writing at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, US. He is a co-editor of the annual short fiction series, African Roar. He has published short stories and poetry in various literary journals and anthologies. He is also a board member of the Sacramento Poetry Center, where he hosts poetry readings every second Monday. Beatrice Lamwaka brings us his love for books:

How did you fall in love with books?
By imitation; as a child growing up in Zimbabwe I started reading whatever my elder brother and other adults around me were reading. There were no children’s books, so I went straight into novels like Burr by Gore Vidal; then later, it was Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, James Hardley Chase, Shakespeare, and, then Pacesetters, etc.

What do you look for in books?
I look for stories that strengthen my hope in humanity, and books that transform me.

Which characters are memorable in the books that you have read?
Benjie in The Sound and the Fury: great character craft by Faulkner; the narrator of Marechera’s House of Hunger: gripping, flexible. The elder brother character in most of Charles Mungoshi’s stories: he is familiar (I was raised by an elder brother); I look in him for traces of the familiar and the relatable. Then there is Tambudzayi Sigauke in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions: I like her resolve and resilience in the pursuit of her dreams.
Which books are you proud to have read?
There are many of these, but here are some that immediately come to mind: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Paradise by Toni Morrison, The
Sound and The Fury, Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, Harare North by Brian Chikwava, Somewhere in this Country by Memory Chirere, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, and many others. I really believe well-written books, especially the fiction ones, give readers an opportunity to see the world in a more revealing way; the works carry much of what we need to know to understand aspects of a specific society. But I am also proud to have read the many books because they helped build my career as an educator and a writer. 
Read the whole interview at the following site:


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