Eppel, seeing Together for the first time, said the collection of prose and poetry had been co-published by the University of New Orleans Press, the Zimbabwean publisher, amaBooks and of course UKZN Press. Although it had already appeared in the USA, it arrived at Lobby Books hot off the press just that day, much to the manager, Andreas Späth’s relief and the author’s delight.
Eppel read an extract from the introduction by Drew Shaw, a lecturer at Midlands State University in Zimbabwe, setting the context of the dual collection: the post-2000 period, a decade of unprecedented decline and hardship in Zimbabwe, which started with the fastracking of the land redistribution that eventually displaced some 900 000 farm workers. This was followed by elections that stirred violent clashes between supporters of Mugabe and the MDC, leading in turn to rampant unemployment, galloping inflation and catastrophic economic collapse, with its attendant erosion of civil, educational and medical infrastructure. Life expectancy for men is now a mere 33 years.
The poetry of Chingono and Eppel does not shy from exploring the indiginities of the “terrible year”, 2008, and Operation Murambatsvina “clear out the filth”, which destroyed people’s homes and livelihoods. Eppel also bravely marches into the taboo of “Gukurahundi Massacre” by the Korean trained Fifth Brigade.
Eppel read Chingono’s ironic poem, “No Funeral”. He said, “It’s almost as if he had some foreknowledge of his death.” He also read his colleague’s amusing “I Lost a Verse”:
I was immersedin working a poemwhen an emergent business manwhom I shared a park bench withreceived a calla business callI presumed.He borrowed the penI was scribbling withI lost a versehe got an order.
Eppel read his own harrowing poem ‘Broke Buttock Blues’, which takes its shape in the jazz idiom:
- Not playing? Watch on BOOK SA TV
- Two further Together videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXiuqZNSO_Y and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFwp6HoD7nA
- An intimate gathering of readers and family joined the author, celebrating the event with wine, generously sponsored by Leopard’s Leap.
- Together by Julius Chingono, John EppelEAN: 9781869142131