Introducing Mototi Litscape: Exploring African Literature

As the new year begins, I invite African writers to submit works to Mototi Litscapes. Mototi Litscape welcomes works in any of the following categories:

Book Reviews: These can be on any literary book by an African writer on any subject. Send a review of no longer than 2000 words. Proofread your work thoroughly.

Author Profiles: If there is an author, dead or alive, whom you think readers should know about, please send a biography-style essay of no longer than 3000 words.

Poetry: Send your high-quality poetry on any theme. Send 3 -5 polished poems (I don’t do copy editing). Each poems should not be longer than 60 lines.

Interviews: If you have interviewed a writer or plan to do so, prepare and send the interview. There are no lengths requirements, and the content of the interview can cover any aspect of the writer’s work or life.

Fiction: Send short stories of below 3000 words on any theme.

Drama: Short plays are welcome; you determine what’s short.

Mototi Litscapes is currently a non-paying market, but it guarantees you a world-wide readership. Copyright reverts back to you upon publication.

Email your works to: manu@munyori.com and indicate that you are submitting to Mototi Litscape. Include a brief Bio with each submission. Submissions are welcome all year.

Notes to Self

Let me try to use this blog as a diary. So here we go:

Finals are almost over; the semester ends on Thursday. Christmas next week! Next week Christmas!

Forget the diary thing….

Upcoming projects:

1. Finish reading the Uncertainty of Hope by Valerie Tagwira and write the essay on its use of language and post it on Mototi Litscape; try to contact Tagwira for an interview.

3. Read voraciously for no reason (so then I will be a fixture at Borders, like when I used go to Kingstons or the Book Center in Harare and just read, read, read…until someone would come and say, “Can I help you find something?”,and I would end up actually wanting to be helped, would be helped all the way to the cash registers to pay for a Dangarembga, a Marechera, a Hove, or some such name.

Here is what PhiLlip Zhuwao once said about reading at Kingstons:
“The books I couldn’t buy I read in the bookshops, Kingstons mostly. I had to risk the wrath of security guards and the police. I would enter a bookshop, pick up Don Quixote, check for guards, and start reading where I left off the last time … I read many books this way till I was unwelcome at the bookshop.” Read more here.

Well, in my case, I ended up just buying those books. If I wanted Dostoevsky or Tolstoy I would go to the Russian Library on that street where they also had the United States Information Center, where I watched the news presented by Peter Jennings and I would walk out of there toward the post office, buy a stamp or two and proceed to 78 Kaguvi Street where they still house the Budding Writers Association. The Budding Writers Association.

The Budding Writers. Meetings at hotel lobbies, cheap chardonay intoxicating budding zeal, until some established –they used a different word–writer would laugh at a vomiting budding chap unable anymore to showcase those two or three chapters of a novel that was failing to take off. Or did this happen? But there was always wine, there were always some finger foods and manuscripts, plus a sea of budding writers in ties and ironed trousers, often dreadlocked hair, like Marechera. Somehow we managed to make our presence noticed and the seasoned fellows were either the ones in the background or it was the budding writers that were in the background of what was really going on at those meetings and workshops in Harare gardens; make no mistake, seasoned and budding talent needed each other, were inseparable at these events like a nose and its holes…

At Borders or Barnes & Noble they don’t ask if they can help you. So you can actually browse whole shelves at a time. I always find myself heading toward the cash registers after several hours to pay for those browsed books, or to use my discount coupons, which give birth to other coupons, which in turn dictate when I should enjoy them).

Art & Advocacy in Zimbabwe

Mbizo Chirasha has expressed satisfaction with the recent Zimbabwe poetry festival. In an email, Chirasha shared information about future plans for similar events, one of which can happen as soon February 2008. What was obvious at the December 10-12 festival, he added, was the hunger for the arts that the participants showed. He also expressed his gratitude for the participation of distinguished speakers. One in particular, the Australia-born Celia Winter Irving, presented a paper entitled “The Arts As a Tool for Advocacy in Zimbabwe”.

In this paper Irving argues that artists in Zimbabwe “have a strong relationship with society, taking their bearings from their local community.” So, it seems, talk of an artist being a loner and not caring so much about what the society thinks would not stand a chance here. The issue of social responsibility appears in different art forms.

In a bold statement, Winter Irving states, “Today because of the situation (in Zimbabwe), artists have no time for dreams and schemes; they want results.” Irving works with artists as a consultant at the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, a position which often involves travelling to all provinces of Zimbabwe to work with artists ranging from poets, sculptors, actors, singers and others. Her essay catalogues these experiences and makes a case about how art is a form of advocacy.

The full text of the paper may appear under the Essays section of Munyori Poetry Journal

Update: Festival Attracts 60 Poets

The Herald of Zimbabwe has given the following report about the Zimbabwe Poetry Festival:

THE African Drums Poetry Book Tour – a poetry gala attracting some regional artists – was on Monday inaugurated at Alliance Francaise in Harare ending this evening.

More than 60 poets are taking part in the festival that is running under the theme: Celebrating the Energy and Culture of Words.

A brainchild of poet Mbizo Chirasha, the festival which seeks to promote collaborative efforts among Sadc artists, has also attracted some big names in Zimbabwean literature as guest speakers.

“This programme is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe by young poets who want to see the culture of appreciation and growth of poetry in Africa.

“This is the time for poets and writers to be innovative, progressive, idealistic, creative, ” said Chirasha.

Susan Haimbala, a performance poet from Namibia, said the festival was instrumental in integrating regional poets.

“I am very excited to be taking part in this festival that helps in building relationships among regional artists. I have learnt at this festival many things that I did not know,” said Haimbala who doubles as a musician.

Haimbala, who performs in Oshiwambo, said she hoped to persuade some Namibian artists to come to Zimbabwe using her own initiatives in order to collaborate with some locals when she returns home.

Simon Longwe, a University of Zambia student, who hailed performance poetry as an expressive genre of art, echoed similar sentiments.

“Performance poetry is one genre of art that helps in educating and informing people about what is happening in their societies,” he said.

He praised the state of poetry in Zimbabwe saying in Zambia, it was beginning to take shape.

Longwe also described Zimbabwe as peaceful despite negative media reports meant to tarnish the image of the country.

Some of the guest speakers who deliberated at the festival since Monday include Musaemura Zimunya who spoke about the response Zimbabwean literature and his poetry has garnered abroad.

Dub-poet Albert Nyathi tackled the issue of originality in relation to performance poetry and how it has developed in Zimbabwe.

He also handled the issue of choreography as a necessity in performance poetry.

University of Zimbabwe lecturer and social commentator Dr Vimbai Chivaura deliberated on a broad spectrum of issues that include the relevance of culture in poetry.

Tonight, more than 35 artists will perform under one roof at Alliance Francaise as the curtain comes down at 10pm.

Fiction Writing Workshop

This message is for current and future greater Sacramento residents.

In the Spring Semester I am offering a fiction writing workshop (course) at Cosumnes River College. The class is on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 to 10:20 am. The same class will be offered again in the Fall on Mondays and Wednesdays in the evenings. You write your fiction (short stories, etc) and the class critiques it. Speed up the writing process by joining this workshop! You know what they say about opportunity…!

Julia Connor Reading A Success

“Now tell me what’s real and what’s not real in this poem,” said Julia Connor at one point in her Tuesday, December 11 reading at Cosumnes River College. Her statement was a response to a question from the audience about whether or not one of her poems was real, and she explained that, indeed, poetry is always real, although it may contain the unreal, but then, “what’s the unreal”?

Julia Connor is the Sacramento Poet Laureate. Her reading at Cosumnes River College was part of the college’s Fall 2007 Poetry Series, which ends tomorrow with a reading from the English Department faculty. The series readings have been well-attended, and tomorrow’s closing reading promises to be another success. So poetry is always in the air at Cosmuness River College, which houses some of Sacramento’s emerging and experienced voices like Lisa Dominguez Abraham, Samuel Iniguez, Dennis Hock, Heather Hutcheson, and others. The college also publishes Cosumnes River Journal, an annual literary journal.

Julia Connor commended the Sacramento Poetry Center for their role in nurturing poetry talent in Sacramento. The center, which hosts poetry readings every Monday, has been in existence since 1979, indeed a credible poetic presence in Sacramento.
“If you only go to the readings about eight times a year, double that number,” advised Connor, whose early publications were through the SPC’s little in-house journals.

I will be doing my first SPC reading with Shevonn Blackshire on January 14, 2008.

Zimbabwe Hosts African Book and Poetry Festival

The AFRICAN DRUMS BOOK AND POETRY FESTIVAL is the brain-child of Mbizo Chirasha, a Zvishavane-born performing poet in Zimbabwe, and One Ghana One Voice co-founder Julian Adomako Gymah of Ghana. Mbizo Chirasha reports that “the project seeks
to promote poetry collaboration and intergaration within Southern Africa,” and the involment of Ghana in the collaboration gives this important event the authentic Pan-Africanist feel.

Taking place in in Zimbabwe at Alliance Francaise, this poetry explosion runs from December 10 to 12, exploring creative skills developmemt, opinion seminars on poetry, perfomances of poetry and readings by poets from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and others.

“Poets need to come together and celebrate the energy and culture of words”, writes Chirasha.

To speak at opinion seminars are writers and teachers of literature like Dr Chivaura, Musa Zimunya ,Memory Chirere, Albert Nyathi ,Celia Winte Irving, among others. Poetry performers include Julius Chingono, Batsirai Chigama, Sussana Himbala (Namibia), Simon Longwe /Zambia ,Blackpoet, Black Heat ,Manikongo , musician Rusere.

Brief Program.

10 December: seminar day 1030am-230pm/reading evening

11 December: workshop day 1030-/poetry reading evening

12 December: AFRICAN DRUMS POETRY EXPLOSION/630pm-1130pm.