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Fungurani scoops top poetry prize


Spoken word poet Innocent Fungurani, aka Answer, recently scooped the first prize in the House of Hunger Poetry Slam competition in Harare.

The competition was held to mark Black History Month commemorations.

It was organised by the United States Public Affairs Section in conjunction with Pamberi Trust and aimed at commemorating black US icons, especially in the arts sector.

The slam featured twenty poets who were eliminated in three consecutive rounds. Seven poets were left to battle it out in the final round.

“I feel it is significant to win because of the potential it gives me to reach a wider audience through spoken poetry. The show gave me a platform to communicate to more than hundred people of varying identities and express my feelings and passion about the history of black people,”said Answer.

Part of Answer’s winning poem read: “I’m vegetarian but I got beef with the system that’s why I’m tearing them, smoking them like spliff in this rhythm.”

Slam poetry, an art which was incidentally founded by Mark Smith, an American construction worker, has a dedicated following in Zimbabwe as evidenced by hordes of people that attended the show.

Sharon Hudson Dean, Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy said Black History Month started off as the Negro History Week in 1926 founded by Carter Woodson.

“The goal of Black History Week is to educate people about the important contributions by African-Americans to national culture, history and achievements in the fields of work and life,” said Hudson.

“African-American literature is an important part of the great body of American literature, and poems by African-Americans are a key part of this. There are several distinct movements in African-American poetry, including the Harlem Renaissance, Negritude, the Black Arts, jazz poetry slam and the Arts Collective.”

She said African-American writers constantly pursed the theme of freedom in most of their poems.

“Whether read or spoken out loud, African-American poetry gives colour, form, shape and fire to the African-American experience and allows readers and listeners of all races and backgrounds to feel and sense the power of these great poets and their pain and joy.

“A powerful example is Langston Hughes, the great 20th Century African-American poet. Hughes speaks for all oppressed people with simple eloquence in his poem, Democracy,” said Hudson.

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