A Different Window on Zimbabwe


A Special Focus during the Poetry International Festival

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.

Poetry is important in Zimbabwe.

During the 39th Poetry International Festival, Poetry International — in collaboration with and supported by Hivos-NCDO Culture Fund — is paying special attention to one of the most talked-about domains on [Poetry International Web] PIW.

Despite the political and economic circumstances in the country, each publication in the online magazine, www.poetryinternational.org, is rich in wonderful poets and excellent translations, accompanied by essays and interviews.

In response to the question of how a troubled country like Zimbabwe is capable of presenting such a wealth of poetry, country editor Irene Staunton said: ‘The world knows only one window on Zimbabwe: cruelty, violence and corruption. Poetry International Web allows us to open a different window, so the world can also see our culture, our wealth and our poetry.’

During the festival, Poetry International is zooming in on Zimbabwe with a varied programme full of poetry, interviews, performance, music and film, showing the wealth and possibilities of the international website, which reaches far beyond any political border.

We invite you to discover the poetry of Zimbabwe during the 39th Poetry International Festival, on Tuesday June 10th. The event will feature an interview with editor, Irene Staunton. This will be followed by poetry readings by a young poet whose work, according to Irene Staunton, represents ‘a new and powerful voice in the canon of Zimbabwean poetry’, Togara Muzanenhamo.

Samm Farai Monro, aka Comrade Fatso, will offer musical and slam-poetry intermezzos, accompanied by the guitarist of his band, Chabvondoka. He characterizes his poetry as ‘Toyi Toyi poetry, urban street poetry that mixes Shona with English, mbira with hip hop, poetry with the struggle to survive.’

Apart from ‘new’ poetry, there will also be PIW exclusives of yet unpublished works by well-known poets, Charles Mungoshi and Julius Chingono, both guests at previous Poetry International Festivals.

During the festival there will be a screening of the low budget movie ‘ZIMBABWE’ by South African filmmaker Darrell James Roodt. The film is described as a painful and topical drama about illegal labour migration from Zimbabwe to South Africa; seen through the eyes of a 19-year-old orphan girl.

Prior to the festival you can find a taster of Zimbabwean poetry on www.poetryinternational.org. Here you’ll find biographical information, essays and other articles about the poets mentioned above, and, of course, their poetry in its original language and in English translation. The Zimbabwe programme in the Rotterdam City Theatre will be broadcast live on PIW. You will receive regular festival updates via our newsletter.

39th Poetry International Festival Rotterdam, 7-13 June
Tuesday, June 10th, 21.15 hrs, Rotterdam City Theatre

Source of message: Poetry International Web.

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