Sunday, February 5, 2012

Homage to a great poet

From The Financial Gazette

The Embassy of Spain yesterday hosted an event to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of one of Zimbabwe's great poets, Julius Chingono.

The event, held in the Theatre in the Park in the Harare Gardens, was attended by family and friends of the late author and dignitaries from a cross-section of the Zimbabwean society and other invited guests.

Chingono died on January 2 last year. He was 65.

His work has been published in several anthologies of Shona poetry including Nhetembo, Mabvumira eNhetembo and Gwenyambira between 1968 and 1980. His only novel, Chipo Changu, was published in 1978, an award-winning play, Ruvimbo, was published in 1980, and a collection of poetry and short stories, Not Another Day, in 2006, by Weaver Press. His poetry in English has also been published in several South African and Zimbabwean anthologies: Flags of Love (Mireza yerudo) (1983) and Flag of Rags (1996). He was guest poet at festivals in Rotterdam (Poetry International 2004), Durban (Time of the Writer 2006) and Tel Aviv (Sha'ar International Poetry Festival 2008).

Chingono was also published in the short story compilations, Writing Still (2003), Writing Now (2005) and Laughing Now (2007).

In 2009, he made headlines when he was detained by the police for reciting his poem My Uniform which spoke of a policeman who used his uniform to engage in corrupt activities.The most recent work he left as his legacy is a collection of short stories and poems in English that, along with those from John Eppel, forms the book Together co-published by amaBooks with the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal Press and the University of New Orleans Press.

There are also more recent, works in which Julius' work appeared (both published by amaBooks) - Long Time Coming (2008) and Intwasa Poetry (2008).

Before he died, Chingono was also working on a collection of short stories in Shona.The Spanish Embassy's cultural attache, Marina Garcia, said "the idea of organising the homage came from the Spanish Ambassador, Pilar Fuertes Ferragut, who was a personal friend who respected his work and considered him one of Zimbabwe's best poets". Chingono was a friend of both the new generation of writers and the old. He was easily approachable for many. His association with young writers saw him working with young artist organisations such as Writers International Network Zimbabwe, where he was one of the board members, The Voice Magazine of which he was an associate editor, Magamba Cultural activists fronted by Cde Fatso and Outspoken, The Pamberi Trust's House of Hunger Poetry Slam event, Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights and Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe.

Garcia said her embassy had organised the event this year thanks to many of the contributions sent in by writers, poets and musicians "who wanted to participate altruistically to this homage, showing how much they respected Chingono and his work".

No comments:

Post a Comment