BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
A 2019 Iowa Writers Programme Honorary Fellow, Batsirai Chigama, is set to launch the Harare Writers Open Mic platform this week to benefit young writers through a raft of activities geared at helping them perfect their craft.
The award-winning spoken word artist and short story writer told NewsDay Life & Style that the platform was inspired by the Iowa Writers Open Mic.
“The Harare Writers Open Mic will include performances, readings, workshops and mentorship of young writers,” she said, adding that the open platform would rely on the generosity of venue owners and writers.
“The first event, dubbed Women Reading & Writing Zimbabwe features three incredible poets and will be held on Thursday February 20, at Elephant Pineapple from 6:30pm to 7:30pm.”
Chigama said during the first edition she will perform alongside Charity Hutete, a dynamic published author and Mutare-based poet and songwriter Ruth Tsopotsa.
Hutete’s work has been published in several poetry and literary journals including New Contrast Review and the Kalahari Review as well as on online platforms such as the Badilisha Poetry Exchange while Tsopotsa, a dental surgeon by profession, is working on a collection of poems.
Chigama — whose debut poetry collection Gather the Children won the Outstanding First Published Creative work at the National Arts Merit Awards last year — is largely known as a spoken word poet and currently on the international writers programme in Iowa, United States.
Her work with young people has taken her as far as Denmark and the US performing and facilitating creative-writing and spoken word workshops in schools.
On her return from the United States last year, she told NewsDay Life & Style that her experience in Iowa — a city that literally breathed literature — was so inspirational that she was encouraged to consider ways of reviving the literary scene in Zimbabwe.