New collections from Batsirai Chigama & Togara Muzanenhamo
Two poets whose journeys I have watched for over 10 years have new collections out this month.
Togara Muzanenhamo and Batsirai Chigama are two of the most committed poets I know. They have consistently worked on their craft for many years. Togara’s new collection is titled ‘Virga.’ Batsirai’s collection is ‘For Women Trying to Breathe & Failing.’
“Virga is the third book of poems by Zimbabwean poet Togara Muzanenhamo, following on from his acclaimed collections Spirit Brides (2006) and Gumiguru (2014).
Set in the twentieth century, Virga features historical events woven together by the weather. From the spiritual silence of a sundog during the 1911 Japanese Antarctic Expedition, to the 1921 World Championship chess matches in the Cuban heat, to the final hours of a young Bavarian mountaineer in the Bernese Alps in 1936 and strange white clouds decimating whole villages in northern Cameroon in 1986 – the poems capture stories of a rapidly evolving century beneath an ancient, fragile sky.
The title relates to the meteorological phenomenon in which a column, shaft or band of rain or snow is seen falling from a cloud but never reaching the earth – evaporating before touchdown. Like Gumiguru, which has so much to do with weather, Virga continues with it, its impact on our daily lives. But, here, his geography broadens out to include wider worlds and different histories artfully strung together by the poet’s fascination with the elements.
Togara Muzanenhamo was shortlisted for the Jerwood Alderburgh First Collection Prize and the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry.”
For Women Trying to Breathe & Failing
“‘We need to talk
We are breeding bombs
Under our tongues
That will explode when we kiss
Our children goodnight
Can we talk…?’
From ‘can we talk?’
Batsirai Chigama’s second collection of poetry is deeply rooted in the past, the present and the future. It is a poetic survival manual guide for a 21st Century citizen trapped in the deep end. The poet draws on her experience and passion as a spoken word artist to speak on behalf of the citizen. She reminds us to be conscious of the voices on the street where we live, the voices of family and friends…and the silent voices yearning to breathe again and exhale. Chigama’s rich, timeless poetry is a remarkable achievement and an important contribution to our education.”
Video: Batsirai Chigama
On The Map 2019
University of Iowa – International Writing Program
Video: Togara Muzanenhamo
Craft Talk – Poetry International Festival Rotterdam