Harare, March 22, 2011: The United States Embassy hosted Mbizo Chirasha, popularly known as ‘The Black Poet’ in performance circles, for a discussion of the “metaphor of voices and rhythm of words” featuring a scintillating recital of his works to mark World Poetry Day.
“The Embassy is pleased to mark this important day. Poetry calls forth those voices in society that would otherwise go unheard and gives them a powerful tool for expressing their deepest feelings, thoughts and beliefs. Poets have the power to influence hearts and change minds,” said Michael Brooke, Public Diplomacy Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Harare.
In typical poetic form, Chirasha told his audience, which included students from Westridge High School in Harare, that, “metaphors are the lotion drying political syphilis from the manhood of the state, my pen is a broom sweeping vendetta pebbles from talk tables, and my ink is a detergent cleansing political stains from parliament overalls.”
Describing his works, Chirasha said the common theme in most of his poems has been respect for women and recognizing their suffering and endurance. “It’s a coincidence of creation and creativity, that’s what I believe in,” said the poet whose work is featured in over 40 journals and anthologies around the world.
However, Chirasha’s poetry cuts across issues to include children’s rights, politics, social lives, gender issues, praise and protest, culture and African pride.
Chirasha read some of his published works, including “Identity Apples,” published by the Memorial University English Department in Alberta , Canada; “Anthem of the Black Poet” and “Decade of Bullets,” published in India; “Haiti My Generation,” published in United kingdom; and the popular, “African Names.”
“This poem reshuffled cabinet; the rhythm resigned the president and its metaphors adjourned parliament,” said Chirasha reciting his poem, “Letter to my daughter,” published locally.
Asked why he preferred publishing outside the country, Chirasha bemoaned the lack of structures to support writers in Zimbabwe, and said he was thinking seriously about writing his poems in Shona for local audiences.
“We lack that administrative connection in terms of writing. We lack consensus as writers, and publishing houses are closing shop,” he noted. Contributing to the discussion, another poet, Thando Sibanda, said the study of literature should be made compulsory at all levels of education in Zimbabwe so as to promote an environment that supports writers and poets.
World Poetry Day is celebrated on March 21st, as declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999, to “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements.”- ZimPAS © 2011
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