A new online journal for Zimbabwean poetry was launched this week. It’s called Ipikai which is Shona for ‘be open to receiving.’ It is an initiative of the Zimbabwe Poets Society, an association that brings Zimbabwean poets together which itself is still to be formally launched A visit to their website reveals the message ‘We Are Gathering the Poets…’
The Zimbabwe Poets Society was started by Batsirai Chigama and Fungai Tichawangana (Yay! Alter ego doing his thing!), who in February 2020 started talking about the possibility of creating something to bring Zimbabwean poets together. Over the course of a year, in back and forth conversations over WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and emails, the initiative took shape.
During that time, they spoke to scores of other people about the initiative and found lots of support from Zimbabwean poets and lovers of literature at home and abroad.
It’s also exciting that the journal has a young editor, Tariro Ndoro, who, by her own admission, geeks out on poetry and poetic forms. Tariro said that it was important to have journals like Ipikai as they helped lay the foundation for a successful literary ecosystem; “Year after year, I have seen that Nigerian and South African writers are able to leverage good publication deals and win international literary awards. Part of the ecosystem that enables their art is having literary journals. Young writers can keep their thumb on the pulse of literary trends and publishers can simply identify fresh voices from the litmag scene. Zimbabwe hasn’t had that for a long time.”
Batsirai said she was excited that this initiative was born of the efforts of poets; “Nothing excites me more than to see poets come together and create something for themselves, learning from those who came before and creating a repository that will inform and inspire future generations of poets.”
The first call for submissions is out and the first issue of the Ipikai Poetry Journal, themed, ‘The Duality of Life,’ will be published at the beginning of April 2022. The deadline is March 21, 2022. Here’s the information on how to submit your poetry.
I’ll end off with a quote from Tariro which I found especially poignant; “The circle of life demands that even dead plants fertilise the soil to make way for the new. As we reset our lives and acclimate to the so-called ‘new normal’, what parts of the old order do we want to bury forever and what new traditions do we want to start? On the other hand, are there odes to the old order that deserve a moment of silence, fallen heroes and loved ones whose lives deserve to be eulogised and, thus, live on in print?”
What’s your answer to these questions? Write them in a poem. Send them to Ipikai.