8 November 2018

Zimbabwe: Young Poet's Insightful Anthology

Reading through the newly-published poetry collection "A Lotus Heart" (2018) by young poet Tsitsi Abokoe Muchokwani brought back memories of its editor Sympathy Sibanda Mazuruse's 2009 poetry collection titled "Matters of Life".

One can feel the power of both poets as it shows in their words woven together with a certain spiritual substance and a certain understanding of life we normally ignore in the young woman.

The personae dominating Muchokwani's poems are mostly young female dreamers in search of a certain freedom, and a space in which to express themselves about different issues to do with life and the future.

In 2009 Mazuruse was a youthful woman just as Muchokwani is today -- no wonder she (Mazuruse) too confirms how Tsitsi Muchokwani's life experiences and expressions touched her when she edited "A Lotus Heart".

"When I went through this book for the first time I screamed because Tsitsi reminded me so much of my work published 10 years back when I published my first poetry anthology. Her work represents a young woman who is bursting out of her cocoon, a woman gathering her broken pieces and demanding to be heard by whoever would listen," writes Mazuruse in the preface to "A Lotus Heart".

Poems making up Muchokwani's collection are described as "prose statements from the heart" -- and indeed, they are emotion-packed, a little complex but as gripping as a lotus flower itself.

Here is a young woman caught in deep thought, having gone through a certain season in life which left her hurt. She meditates and discovers solace in her own agony, own broken self. The societal denial of her rights pushes her into situations which provoke meditative expression of her thoughts and one then hears the truth about life struggles, sees the beauty or strength we normally don't see in the young female dreamer.

But why the lotus heart at all? The editor says the poet's words have something in common with a lotus flower which grows in any situation.

"Like a lotus flower that blooms anywhere, I have witnessed the power of words flow from her heart and now that she has published her book, it will take a thousand years to extinguish her light and contain her words. She is here to stay and demands to be heard," says Mazuruse.

In her imagery, Muchokwani captures the beauty, the worth and victory of a woman whom society has dumped in muddy situations. The message in the poems is for every woman to win in whatever struggle she finds herself in. Another author Gelyn Musvosvi who also read "A Lotus Heart" says the title is well-chosen "as a lotus flower has so many wonderful characteristics that parallel the human experience which Tsitsi is able to show through her fascinating poetry". Musvosvi discovers in Tsitsi's poems what she describes as "the purity of a lotus flower which blossoms in a muddy and dirty environment".

In this collection "A Lotus Heart" there are dreams of a young lady, and in these hard times, the girl child is urged to be strong and to never give up her self-worth. In her poem 'Cautious Recklessness', for instance, she pitches the images in very contrasting positions, thus inspiring a new understanding of reality.

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