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Chiwara offers hope in new poetry anthology


THE poetry anthology, Poems of Hope is Tsungi Chiwara’s second literary offering after her debut novel, Reflections of the Heart — A Story of Hope, which came out last year.

Title: Poems of Hope (Vol 1)
Author: Tsungi Chiwara
Publisher: Self (2016)
ISBN: 978-0-7974-9790-0

BY Phillip Chidavaenzi

While timeless wisdom says never to judge a book by its cover, one may as well do that with Poems of Hope, and they will not be disappointed.

Its colourful, almost glossy cover, with a bright appearance, offers an irresistible attraction.

While many poetry collections are often named after one of the entries, Chiwara departs from the norm to settle for a title that best encapsulates the pieces collected here, although it is not the title to any of the pieces.

Indeed, hope zaps through this anthology of 19 poems written over 18 months, according to the poet in her introduction to the anthology.

One distinct feature of these pieces is their length. While short poems — known as “flash” poems — have become fashionable, Chiwara opted for long pieces that allowed her enough space to tell her stories, as it were.

Poems must indeed tell stories, regardless of their length. While Tichaona Zindoga, for instance, is able to tell his stories in largely short pieces — almost like short bursts of emotion — in his debut collection, Death of the Commissar, Chiwara has opted for longer pieces that afforded her enough room to achieve her objectives.

By her own admission, Chiwara’s poetry is a living, breathing entity, characterised by words that “come alive” and “take a snapshot of life” (pp5).

The collection opens with When They Decide to Walk Away, a piece in which the persona bemoans the pain of separation, the agony associated with the breaking of treasured relationships.

This poem, which sets the stage, is likely to ring an echo with many readers.

The conclusion of the matter, however, is that if God allows it, let those who will walk out of your life go ahead.

In Searching, the persona is in vexation akin to that of the biblical King Solomon, who, in the biblical wisdom book of Ecclesiastes, desperately quests for the meaning of life, but which seems to elude him.

In the fog of darkness, however, the light shines as God speaks to the persona and calms their restlessness.

There is also an ode to love in the poem aptly titled Love. Here is an exploration of the various shades of love: is it really what we share at Christmas? Does it really conquer all? Is it what makes the world go round? Or is that burning desire that makes your heart feel like it is on fire?

In The Fact Is, But the Truth Is, Chiwara juxtaposes two words that are often used interchangeably, but are completely different.
The persona in the piece admits that while facts are undeniable, the truth — based in the word of God — supersedes the facts.

She says, for instance, “The fact is there is no way out/But the truth is/God will make a way/Where there seems to be no way.” (pp62).

Chiwara writes simply and with clarity, something that gives her work a universal reach. It becomes accessible to all.
Her choice of diction is such that anyone can read and enjoy her poetry.

In many ways, the poems evoke a wide range of emotions depending with the reader’s circumstances, from the painful When they Decide to Walk Away, through the joyful This is Your Year, to the contemplative If.

There is, therefore, a take-away for every reader.

Through these poems, Chiwara openly professes her Christian faith and this work, consequently, is likely to have many takers within the Christian community.

The anthology, therefore, becomes relevant to those, who may be going through trying times and may need a helping hand in their faith walk.

Many of the poems collected here follow a well-worn path in the Christian pantheon.

Their thematic approach, dealing with concerns that are as biblical as they are real among both believers and non-believers, explore subjects of faith, love, hope, wisdom and encouragement.

We live in trying times in which hard-pressed people are in desperate need of large helpings of hope and encouragement.

And this book might just provide that antidote for whoever will reach for it on the shelf.

 Feedback: pchidavaenzi@newsday.co.zw

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