from Panorama Magazine:
Togara Muzanenhamo and John Eppel were in Harare for the launch of their poetry book, Textures, published by Bulawayo-based amaBooks.
The well-attended and engaging session was marked by readings from Textures by the two authors, followed by a conversation the two had with poet and publisher, Ignatius Tirivangani Mabasa.
Speaking at the event, British Council Director, Samantha Harvey, said they were always looking to see how they can add value to the literary and publishing sector.
The event coincided with World Diversity Day, an occasion set aside by the United Nations International for the promotion of diversity issues.
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing individual differences. But it also requires the need to recognize how much people have in common.
Addressing a cross-section of guests at the Harare launch, amaBooks’ Brian Jones referenced the opinion of the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, saying:
“Every poem is unique but each reflects the universal human experience, the aspiration for creativity that crosses all boundaries and borders, of time as well as space, in the constant affirmation of humanity as a single family.”
He said Muzanenhamo’s words in the introduction to the book are apt and quoting the much-travelled poet said:
“It fascinates me how similar people are. You can go to any country and find we all possess the same emotions; perhaps we speak different languages, and there’s a different landscape, but the baseline to all humanity strums at the same rhythm.”
Muzanenhamo and Eppel, he said, are two very different poets with much in common.
Eppel was born in South Africa, moved to Zimbabwe when he was very young, and stayed, apart from a few years away in South Africa finishing his education.
Muzanenhamo was born in Zambia, moved to this country when he was very young, and stayed, apart from a few years away in Europe finishing his education.
Eppel has had four poetry collections published – all in Southern Africa. Muzanenhamo has had two poetry collections published – both in the United Kingdom.
Eppel won the Ingrid Jonker Prize for his first collection, Muzanenhamo was shortlisted for the Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize for his first collection.
Eppel is well respected as a writer – in poetry and prose, winning the MNET Prize for his debut novel, having his second chosen for the Times Literary Supplement series on the most significant books from Africa, and having five other novels, two collections of stories and poems, and two collaborations with other writers, Julius Chingono and Philani Nyoni, published.
Muzanenhamo is well respected as a poet – he was chosen as Zimbabwe’s representative to Poetry Parnassus – the greatest gathering of poets in the world that coincided with the 2012 London Olympic Games, as well as attending the World Literature and other international festivals and residences. Soon after this launch he will be heading for Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom for a residency and festivals.
In this collection Eppel’s poems are noticeably rooted in the soil of Bulawayo; Muzanenhamo’s range more widely, from the Arctic wastes, down through North America to South America, across the Atlantic to Britain, the Netherlands and France, down to Somalia and then to rural Mashonaland farmland.
But, as Drew Shaw says in his introduction, “they both weave words beautifully, making music, and they both adhere to a core structure of poetry – the rhythm, the rhyme…” They are both recognized masters of the craft of poetry.
Quoting from some of the reviews of Textures, Brian Jones said: “This is a book about precious feelings”, “A journey of wonder” and “A well crafted and creatively satisfying anthology that often oozes with perfection.”
Australian poet Fred Simpson says in his review of Textures: “Their differences are obvious: one poet, grounded in Bulawayo, generally writes short, evocative, personal and structured poems to probe the subconscious and unearth, in heart-breaking beauty, penetrating truths; while the other, a citizen of the world, crafts longer narratives gathered from everywhere, and delivers them in spell-binding voice and imagery.
“Stepping back, however, we see a pattern emerging, a collaboration that spurns the pettiness of competing poetry schools and prescribed content; we see a portrait of love which takes our breath away. Robert Graves stated that his poetic intention was ‘to mesmerise time with stored magic’. Textures achieves this.”
The launch at the Book Cafe was supported by the Culture Fund and British Council.
Drew Shaw wrote the introduction to the book; Helen Leiros donated the painting that appears on the cover; and Veena Bhana designed the cover.
Accompanying are some of the images from the Harare launch of Textures. – © Panorama Magazine 2015.