Chigama tackles women’s issues through poetry

Batsirai Chigama 


AWARD-WINNING author and poetess Batsirai Chigama  has published her second anthology titled For Women Trying To Breathe And FailingIt’s Not Your Fault that comprises almost 100 poems curated under six subtitles.

Published by Ntombekhaya Poetry and edited by Ethel Irene Kabwato, the anthology to be available on the market in a fortnight is an ode to cross-generational pain, struggles, challenges, victories, and joys of being a woman.

The title, For Women Trying To Breathe And Failing – It’s Not Your Fault offering is specifically directed at women caught up in a precarious existence.

In the anthology, Chigama casts her female gaze to unpack socio-political issues with deep care.

Problems besetting the country are mirrored through relationships between men and women.

This is more open in the poem HW (acronym for Harare water), where water, a scarce commodity in the capital is characterised as a filthy non-dependable lover whose comings and goings are never predictable.

In this anthology, sore relationships are explored through transactional engagements, ex-lovers, divorcees, troubled marriages, violence and abuse.

Running the gamut of experiences such as anger, desire, hope, bliss, despair, fear, loneliness, joy, and mischief, Chigamas’ language strains toward freedom and independence.

The telling adverb how repeatedly pops up in many stanzas to introduce direct and indirect questions as well as set up an example. This makes the poetry both instructive, This is how the guitar loses its strings and gets out of tune, and interrogative, how does one return to love?

Ordinary words such as stop, leave, or letting go, are carried with great momentum in her lines.

Through difficult relationships, Batsirai revealed the complexity of a woman’s emotional terrain.

Intimacy is celebrated under the subtitle How Love Should Be, while failed relationships are probed under For Women Failing To Survive, and self-care is subtitled For Women Finding Their Feet.

It makes the reader contemplate the many selves that a woman can be. It allows the image of a fetus on the cover to be seen as both unborn daughter and its mother simultaneously.

Even though the title says ‘… It’s Not Your Fault, the poetess does not exonerate her multiple protagonists.

An element of personal responsibility comes out in the art of survival and several other poems. Men, who are the cause for so much grief in the poems, find grace when responsibility is shared with previous generations who forgot to teach our fathers to give our mothers room to breathe.

The question of blame is put into a larger context of Zimbabwe’s post-colonial saga.

The anthology combines mature observation with a high level of emotional intelligence.

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