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Ashes in a Storm: Ambitious effort with the taste of ash?


IT is a rare occasion to find bi-authored poetry anthologies as the majority are often by single authors or a collection of several poets. Dean Murinda and Tawanda Imbayarwo, however, came together to explore adversity and mishaps synonymous with the 21st century.

By Beniah Munengwa

Title: Ashes in a Storm: An Anthology of Poems

Author: Dean Murinda & Tawanda Imbayarwo

Publisher: Pen Feathers Media (2018)

ISBN: 978 0 7974 8674 4

This particular piece, however, will deal with several other thematic concerns. There seems to be a realisation here that an artist has an obligation to better the world in various ways other than using words.

They, unlike most artists who cry foul for not managing to get enough rewards from their art, divert the little that they have towards charity.

For every $4-copy that is sold, a dollar is given away to charity. To date, the poets have visited Kutama Day Primary School to donate some school fees and to Maunganidze Children’s Home to make some donations received from readers and other well-wishers.

They claim that more lives can be touched only if people continue extending their kind and warm hands. This is the mindset that needs to be carried into the new Zimbabwe whereby the politician is not the sole architect of the fate of everyone. Instead, everyone has a role to play.

As the title suggests, there are ashes to be picked within the storms of love gone wrong, aspirations blown away, missions unachieved and dreams deferred.

As a result, I applaud the project not necessarily from the literary point of view, but from the anthropological and philanthropic appreciation of the actual intent that the two poets harbour.

Dealing with the context of the anthology, it’s not a stellar so to say. For Imbayarwo, some poems stand out. The poem Old Church is reminiscent of the purity that used to characterise the church of yester-year that “opened hearts to the calls of heaven” and “setting ablaze the passion” in people’s souls for heavenly riches.

Die Young oozes out the dominant theme in his pieces: that of loss and incapacitating experiences that leave a person entrenched in unproductive tendencies, whereby they develop no more and become dead men walking.

Murinda, on the other hand delves more into life. Dance with Me Well takes a gender slant, giving a woman a voice and provoking her thoughts on issues of gender based violence through persuasive language.

I, however, feel the editing could have been tighter as most of the poems lack synchronised word interplay. Neither were grammatical loose ends of the poems neatly tied up to move away from the clutter that is associated with first or second drafts of a book.

The packaging also leaves a lot to be desired, as a more decent and less sneaky appeal could have been better. In its current state, it looks more like a pamphlet rather than a poetry anthology.

This project stands as a case study for inexperienced writers on two fronts. One is found in the need to be cautious of the temptation of giving anyone masquerading as an editor their work, because that it is often a recipe for disaster.

The second learning point is found in the need for writers to be agents of the change that they want to see. Not only should the writer be all fangs out for feeding their pockets, but they should also look at the wider scope of getting onto the ground and helping the people who most inspire the subject of their content.

But as I hinted at the beginning, this is a collection that I would buy not for the expectation of adding outstanding literature to my personal library, but just for supporting the philanthropic cause. Remember the way you buy your church youths’ music CDs? Buying just for the cause and not primarily for the content.

Thus, in spite of Imbayarwo and Murinda’s inability to match the magnitude set by the likes of poetry griots in the mold of Samuel Chimusoro, Musaemura Zimunya and Chenjerai Hove, they still deserve a mention for their service towards humanity; for nothing is as bad as leaving great deeds unmentioned, unappreciated and forgotten.

 Beniah Munengwa writes in his own capacity. He can be contacted on benmunengwa@gmail.com

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