Ignatius Mabasa to Read Shona Poetry in San Francisco

photo by Fungai J.T.

Listen, I am too excited about this news to know where to begin, but let’s start with this announcement from the organizers of the Second San Francisco International Poetry Festival:

Second San Francisco International Poetry Festival will Ring through the City in July 23-27, 2009

Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, Mayor Gavin Newsom, Jack Hirschman and the San Francisco Public Library will present the second San Francisco International Poetry Festival, July 23-27, 2009. The festival will take place at the Palace of Fine Arts and various venues and libraries throughout San Francisco.

The Festival honors our City’s great legacy of hosting and encouraging cross cultural dialogue. In 2007, the three-day extravaganza drew thousands of people from the Bay Area for free and open-to-the-public poetry and music at both large and small venues throughout the City, including a street party in North Beach, youth events, book signings, translation workshops and more.

This year’s landmark event will be co-hosted by Poet-in-Residence for Friends of the SFPL, Jack Hirschman; United States Poet Laureate Kay Ryan; California Poet Laureate Carol Muske-Dukes and the San Francisco Poet Laureate (to be named). San Francisco Poet Laureate emeritus Lawrence Ferlinghetti will be presented with a special honor.

Fifteen poets from around the world will journey to the Festival, reading together with the leaders of San Francisco’s own highly regarded literary community. The truly international group of poets, from countries including Bangladesh, China, France, Greece, Haiti, Iraq, Israel, Sudan and Zimbabwe, represent a wide spectrum in the world of poetry, from recognized masters to emerging new talents, who are redefining the art in our evolving times.

Since the 2007 Festival, Friends of the SFPL has presented smaller poetry festivals in a variety of languages, such as the Iranian Literary Arts Festival, Vietnamese Poets of the Diaspora and Flor y Canto en el Barrio: A Celebration of Latino Poetry, in their ongoing effort to continue to build cultural bridges, celebrate the literary arts and foster international dialogue

Mabasa has informed me that he will be representing Zimbabwe at this festival, which will take place only one-and-half hours from where I live. He will be in good company, especially considering that Jack Hirshman (current San Francisco poet laureate) and Kay Ryan (United States poet laureate) will be part of the festival, not to mention the poets from fourteen other countries; they all will get a chance to watch a great performance from the inventor of gospoetry.

Mabasa’s presence may also be an opportunity for the Sacramento Poetry community to see this vibrant performer in action; perhaps I can ask someone to host a dual performance of Mabasa and I, like we did in the old days at UZ, in Mabvuku, in Norton…

Ignatius Mabasa is the award-winning poet and author of the novels Mapenzi and Ndafa Here. Labelled the Marechera of Shona literature by Musa Zimunya, he is also a friend of mine(I had to say this. Had to).


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