How I wish I could slam

The Herald, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 00:00

Poets take centre stage . . . Poets Batsirai Chigama (left), Madzitatiguru (centre) and Vokal (The April Poetry Slam) winner on Stage at the Book Café.

The country’s prestigious poetry festival roared to life last Saturday when more than 20 artistes took part in this monthly event dubbed “House of Hunger” Poetry Slam at the Book Café. The Slam, which has been silent for the past three months, sprung to life and injected a new enthusiasm among poetry lovers, who had been yearning for its revival following the sudden closure of the old Book Café premises late last year.  Pamberi Trust spokesperson Extra Blessings Kuchera said although the development of poetry had been undoubtedly slow, there was a marked improvement.

“We want to pay tribute to the poets who have been resilient and standing their ground to make sure Zimbabwe’s poetry continues to grow,” said Kuchera.  Kuchera expressed his gratitude to some of the poets for their unwavering support.

“I can assure you that this platform will continue to try and raise appreciation for poetry in Zimbabwe and beyond,” he said.
The “House of Hunger Poetry Slam” gives poets a platform to express themselves freely and explicitly through the spoken word and provides a consistent space to practise performance poetry and articulate issues affecting their lives and communities.

Despite the lack of appreciation of the genre in Zimbabwe, a number of poets do cherish this platform, which gives them an opportunity to showcase their work in an environment where it can be critiqued and developed. For some poets, the platform is a springboard to greater achievements.
Poets such as Trust Mutekwa (Ticha Muzavazi), Tinashe Muchuri,Sam Monro and Biko Mutsaurwa have made great strides in the sector after participating at these monthly slams.

The slam has not only elevated the status of poets from being minnows in the game, but to become poets of repute and the process has been enriching to poetry fans as well, who have positively helped in the nurturing of talent, while enjoying themselves thoroughly during the monthly event. However, like any other genre, the poetry slams have not been without their low moments, where fans have had to put up with mediocrity when some of the poets present shoddy pieces of work.
More often than not, the fans complain that the poems are poorly presented, boring, tasteless and are not artistic in any way.
Some of the poems are so absurd and in some instances out rightly indecent, leaving many wondering if any efforts at all would have been made in the elementary stage when a poet sits down to evaluate his or her work. Kuchera, however, defended the uninspiring elements of the slam, insisting that such things were bound to happen since it was a developmental platform.

“I agree with what the fans say, but let me hasten to say the platform is mainly developmental and such things are bound to happen.  “We would like to see a Zimbabwe that appreciates poetry more than what it is now,” he said.  Unlike other arts genres, the growth of poetry has been stagnant over the years, a situation that has seen some individuals dominating the scene, despite the abundance of talent in the country.

Names like Ignatious Mabasa, Mbizvo Chirasha, the Flawchild, Chirikure Chirikure and Albert Nyathi have become synonymous with poetry in Zimbabwe.

Ruth Butaumocho Entertainment Editor