Part 3 of 3: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Mbizo Chirasha, Call for Action – Here’s where the rubber hits the road!

Mbizo Chirasha

“I am a Zimbabwean, Zimbabwe is the country in which I was born. It is my country. I don’t have another home except Zimbabwe. I need to live freely in my country of birth. Why do I not get the freedom I need? I wait and watch people gambling and playing games with my life, my freedom, my peace, my health  and any other freedoms.

“Political affiliation – I do not belong to any political party because of my job. My job is very much global and universal. I am a Poet, Writer, Blogger and Organizer of Events. I am supposed to work with anyone or everybody. I am supposed to relate and associate with every Zimbabwean irrespective of affiliation because I am apolitical in my standing.

“My problem – I have been seeing strange stalking, attacks and threats soon after the Lit fest of 2017. I was quiet after the first attack but now I felt it is getting scary, dangerous and life threatening. I need to open up to the government, Media, International Organisations and  the Zimbabwe Human Rights Organizations because I don’t know who is doing this to me and who is planning to take my life and don’t  know for what major reason.” Mbizo Chirasha, Tuck Magazine, February 2017 / the finer details of the threat are described HERE.



HERE’S WHERE THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD

YES! This is a long-shot but all you have to sacrifice is a few minutes of time over your morning coffee to write two letters for Mbizo. If nothing else, it will show this man that people care. When he has safe harbor, he’ll continue his literary activism (as he does even now under threat) and he’ll be able to reach out a helping hand to others in peril. So please stand with us.  Thank you!

LETTER WRITNG CAMPAIGN IN SUPPORT OF MBIZO’S APPLICATIONS FOR SERVICES and SAFE HARBOR:

We need two letters. Please simply throw your support behind Mbizo by encouraging these organizations to provide timely assistance.

  1. International Cities of Refugee Network (ICORN) c/o Sølvberget KF,
    Stavanger Cultural Centre
    p.o. box: 310 4002 Stavanger
    Norway
    ICORN’s mission is “protecting and promoting writers and artists at risk.”  I’ve read Mbizo’s paperwork. Responses to his 2017 application for assistance repeatedly indicate that his paperwork is in process but no action has been taken by ICORN on Mbizo’s behalf over the two years since he filed for safe haven.
  2. Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a project of PEN America “Since its inception in 2017, ARC has assisted more than 181 individual artists from over 53 countries by connecting them to a wide range of services, most frequently including emergency funds, legal assistance, temporary relocation programs and fellowships. Thanks to a core network of over 70 partners, over 50% of them have already received direct support. Please write a letter in support of Mbizo’s application to an ARC partner agency.  He will include it in his application package, which is being prepared now.

CONNECT:

  • Connect with Mbizo on Facebook or email him at girlchildcreativity@gmail.com about the letters.
  • The deadline is :  14th November 2019. Thank you!

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gofundme: Mbizo Chirasha: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile

One Thomas Block of Human Rights International organized this fundraiser asking for $575 to address some immediate welfare needs. Be aware that this is a bandage not a cure, so even if you find yourself able to donate (please!), we still need you to write letters of support. At the time of this posting, $150 has been raised. Link HERE for details and to donate.

OCTOBER 30, 2019:
“We in the United States cannot really understand how poetry can become a dangerous activity. But in societies around the world, our activist-artist colleagues risk their lives for justice and art. Just two days ago, Mbizo’s activist-art brother, Zimbabwean musician Platinum Prince was abducted and beaten in Harare. His crime? In September of this year Platinum Prince released a track entitled NDIYO YACHO HERE MR PRESIDENT in which he seemed to be questioning the President of Zimbabwe over the current economic situation. We stand with Mbizo.” Thomas Block, International Human Rights Art Festival Organizer
~~~~~~~~

“We remain resilient in the quest for justice, freedom of expression and upholding of human rights through Literary Activism and Artivism. ALUTA CONTINUA.” Mbizo Chirasha

RELATED:

MBIZO CHIRASHA is a recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017), Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized Writer, 2017 African Partner of the International Human Rights Arts Festival Exiled in Africa Program in New York. 2017 Grantee of the EU- Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund. Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe, Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. He has published a collection of poetry, Good Morning President, and co-created another one Whispering Woes of Gangesand Zembezi with Indian poet Sweta Vikram.



Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

About / Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Contests, Events and Other Information and News


HELP FOR AT-RISK POETS, WRITERS, ARTISTS

A Place for Freelance Writers and Artists, The Haven Foundation (created by Stephen King) “gives financial assistance to provide temporary support needed to safeguard and sustain the careers of established freelance artists, writers and other members of the arts and art production communities who have suffered disabilities or experienced a career-threatening illness, accident, natural disaster or personal catastrophe. Grants are awarded and renewed at the discretion of the Haven Foundation Board.” Details including eligibility guidelines and application are HERE.

The Authors League Fund (writers helping writers) has assisted professional writers and dramatists who find themselves in financial need because of medical or health-related problems, temporary loss of income, or other misfortune. Details HERE.

Human Rights Watch administers the Hellman/Hammett Grants program for writers who have been victims of political persecution or are in financial need.Hellman/Hammett grants typically range from $1,000 to a maximum of $10,000. In addition to providing much needed financial assistance, the Hellman/Hammett grants focus attention on repression of free speech and censorship by publicizing the persecution that the grant recipients endured. Details HERE: 212 292 4700

PEN Writers’ Fund Grants of up to $2,000 available to published writers in acute financial crisis. No membership necessary. Application and details HEREarielle@pen.org Note the next deadline is February 15.


FELLOWSHIP

The Oxford American welcomes submissions for The Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writers Fellowship. Fellow will receive a $10,000 living stipend, housing, and an editorial apprenticeship with the Oxford American toward a nine-month residency in the thriving creative capital, Central Arkansas. Submissions are open until March 24, 2018. Read more about eligibility and guidelines, here.

CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS

Opportunity Knocks

COTTON XENOMORPH a relatively new “journal produced with the mission to showcase new and ecstatic art” focused on social justice. Its editors categorize it as a “no creeps” publication … that is, no xenophobes, sexist, fat-shamers and the like … much the spirit of The BeZine. Nice!  Although new, it’s clearly getting its groove on with a nice mix of poetry, fiction and visual arts are of interest. No submission charges. No payment. Copyright remains with the author. Details HERE.

ECOTONE MAGAZINE, Reimaging Place, a publication of University of North Carolina Wilmington, is published twice a year and features prose and poetry. Submissions are open from August 15–September 5, and again from December 15–January 5. Mark your calendar. Details HERE.

FIELDS MAGAZINE publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual arts. Submission are accepted on a rolling basis. Query for articles, profiles, interviews and essays. $3 submission fee to help defray operational costs, which may be deferred in hardship cases. Details HERE.

HERON TREE:  invites submissions through 8 April 2018 for a special series devoted to visual poetry crafted for presentation in a black-and-white format. “Visual poetry” means different things to different people, and the editors are open to a wide range of submissions, including but by no means limited to: concrete poetry, calligrams, altered text, erasures, typewriter art, asemics, abstractions, collages of words and/or images, poems in which visual arrangement is primary and unconventional, and poems that aren’t readable out loud but communicate visually. Accepted pieces will be published on the Heron Tree website (herontree.com) and collected in a free, downloadable PDF e-volume.  Editorial reading and decisions are on a rolling basis. For more information about how to submit your work, visit herontree.com/how.

JOURNAL OF MODERN LITERATURE, UNIVERSITY OF INDIANA PRESS is published quarterly and welcomes submission on scholarly studies of literature in all languages. Details HERE.

NARRATIVELY, Human Stories, Boldly Told ” is devoted to original and untold human stories, delivered in the most appropriate format for each piece, from writing to short documentary films, photo essays, audio stories and comics journalism. We are always interested in adding new, diverse voices to the mix and we pay for stories. We accept both pitches for story ideas and completed submissions …”  Details HERE.

OXFORD AMERICAN publishes fiction and nonfiction and its window for submissions closes on September 1. Submission free. Details HERE.

WILDNESS REVIEW “is an online literary journal that seeks to promote contemporary fiction, poetry and non-fiction that evokes the unknown. Founded in 2015, each thoughtfully compiled issue strives to unearth the works of both established and up-and-coming writers.” This review works on a rolling submissions basis. Poetry (under 80 lines) and prose (under 2,500 words). No submission fees. No payment. Wilderness reviews does “nominate for most major prizes (Pushcart, Best of the Net, Best American, etc.) and continue to promote contributors after publication.” Details HERE.

WORDRUNNER eCHAPBOOKs publishes short stories collections and is open through April 15.  Some stories may be previously  published. Submission fee. Cash payment. Details HERE.


CONTESTS

Opportunity Knocks

THE ANTIVENOM POETRY AWARD sponsored by Elixir Press is for a first or second collection and is open through March 31. Cash award. Entry  fee. Details HERE.

THE ELIXIR PRESS 2018, FICTION AWARD for short story collections and novels is open for submissions through May 31 and offers a cash prize, publication and copies. Entry fee. Details HERE.

THE KILLER NASHVILLE CLAYMORE AWARD for English-language genre fiction (mystery and thriller) is open through April 1. Cash awards. Entry fees.  Details HERE.

THE NEW AMERICAN POETRY PRIZE “is awarded each year to a full-length collection of poetry. The winner receives $1,000 and a book contract, as well as 25 author’s copies and promotional support. The submission period is usually September 1 – January 1. Mark you calendar for 2018. Details HERE.

THE NEW AMERICAN FICTION PRIZE  is awarded each year to a full-length collection of fiction. The winner receives $1,000 and a book contract, as well as 25 author’s copies and promotional support. The submission period is usually February 15 – June 15.” Details HERE.

TIN HOUSE features fiction, nonfiction and poetry and accepts submissions March and September only. Details HERE.


EVENTS

  • Tin House Summer Workshop, July 8th-15th, Portland, OR is accepting application now. Details HERE.
  • National poetry Series Winners Reading, AWP Offsite Event, Tampa, Florida March 8 Details HERE.
  • Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos, AWP off-site reading, Tampa, Florida, March 9 Details HERE.

100 Thousand Poets for Change (Official)'s photo.

FEB15 Reading: Michael Dickel, Kristine Snodgrass and Terri CarrionHosted by 100 Thousand Poets for Change (Official)

This reading and mixer event presents Michael Dickel, the first 2018 resident for the 100 Thousand Poets for Change On Lake Jackson Residency Program-Tallahassee, FL.

Michael Dickel’s (Meta/Phor(3)/Play) poetry has won international awards and has been translated into several languages. His most recent books of poetry include Breakfast at the End of Capitalism (2017) and The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden (2016). He is co-editor of Voices Israel Volume 36 (2010), was managing editor for arc-23 and 24, and is a past-chair of the Israel Association of Writers in English. With producer / director David Fisher, he received an NEH documentary-film development grant. Michael Dickel lives in Jerusalem.

Kristine Snodgrass is the author of most recently Out of the World (Hysterical Books, 2016), Co-director of Anhinga Press, and a professor at FAMU. She loves collaborating and is always searching for new projects with artists and poets.

Terri Carrión was conceived in Venezuela and born in New York to a Galician mother and Cuban father. Her poetry, fiction, non-fiction, translations, and photography has appeared and disappeared in print and online. She is assistant editor and art designer for Bigbridge.org., and co-founder of the global grassroots movement 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

 


Accessible anytime from anywhere in the world:

  • The Poet by Day always available online with poems, poets and writers, news and information.
  • The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, online every week (except for vacation) and all are invited to take part no matter the stage of career (emerging or established) or status (amateur or professional). Poems related to the challenge of the week (always theme based not form based) will be published here on the following Tuesday.
  • The Poet by Day, Sunday Announcements. Every week (except for vacation) opportunity knocks for poets and writers.
  • THE BeZINE, Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be – always online HERE.  
  • Beguine Again, daily inspiration and spiritual practice  – always online HERE.  Beguine Again is the sister site to The BeZine.

ONLINE POETRY COMMUNITIES

All Poetry dubs itself the largest poetry community, more than 500,000 poets. “Friendly advice and encouragement and detailed critiques when you’re ready. All Poetry hosts free contests with $50 cash prizes, active discussion forums, and an annual anthology to which you may contribute.” Free and optional paid monthly memberships are available. (I have not sampled this myself, but a friend has and reports a mostly positive experience. She was involved for several years.)

d’Verse Poets Pub “is a place for poets and writers to gather to celebrate poetry. We are many voices, but one song. Our goal is to celebrate; poets, verse & the difference it can make in the world. To discover poetry’s many facets and revel in it’s beauty, even when ugly at times.” This is a smaller and more intimate group than All Poetry (above) would appear to be. I can testify that there are some excellent poets participating and coaching one another. This is quite an ambitious project, long running and lead by a dedicated team.


YOUR SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS may be emailed to thepoetbyday@gmail.com. Please do so at least a week in advance.

If you would like me to consider reviewing your book, chapbook, magazine or film, here are some general guidelines:

  • send PDF to jamiededes@gmail.com (Note: I have a backlog of six or seven months, so at this writing I suggest you wait until June 2018 to forward anything. Thank you!)
  • nothing that foments hate or misunderstanding
  • nothing violent or encouraging of violence
  • English only, though Spanish is okay if accompanied by translation
  • your book or other product  should be easy for readers to find through your site or other venues.

TO CONTACT ME WITH ANNOUNCEMENTS AND OTHER INFORMATION FOR THE POET BY DAY: thepoetbyday@gmail.com

TO CONTACT ME REGARDING SUBMISSIONS FOR THE BeZINE: bardogroup@gmail.com

PLEASE do not mix the communications between the two.


Often information is just thatinformation – and not necessarily recommendation. I haven’t worked with all the publications or other organizations featured in my regular Sunday Announcements or other announcements shared on this site. Awards and contests are often (generally) a means to generate income, publicity and marketing mailing lists for the host organizations, some of which are more reputable than others. I rarely attend events anymore. Caveat Emptor: Please be sure to verify information for yourself before submitting work, buying products, paying fees or attending events et al.


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

“Soulmates” author, Kenchana Ugbabe, to serve as Writer at Risk in Residence at Fordham University

Kanchana Ugbabe (photo courtesy of and (c) Penguin India


The Fordham Department of English has welcomed a new colleague, Kanchana Ugbabe of Nigeria, to serve in the newly created position of Writer at Risk in Residence for one year beginning this fall.

The pilot position was made possible through the efforts of the Creative Writing program in partnership with PEN America, Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), Westbeth Artists Housing, ArtistsSafety.net, and Residency Unlimited. The residency is the second effort of the New York City Safe Haven Prototype, a multi-organizational artist residency program designed to house, integrate, and nurture artists at risk.

Ugbabe is a professor of English and African Literature at the University of Jos, Nigeria, and the author of a collection of short stories, Soulmates (Penguin Books, 2011). She has edited two collections of essays on the writings of the Nigerian novelist Chukwuemeka Ike and contributed three chapters to the Dictionary of Literary Biography focusing on African writers. Ugbabe holds a doctorate from Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia. She holds a master’s in English literature from the University of Madras, India.

Since arriving at Fordham in mid-October, Ugbabe has been visiting English classes as well as courses in other departments, such as “Women and Independence in Africa,” taught by Fawzia Mustafa, Ph.D., professor of African and African-American studies and English. This spring, Ugbabe will teach her own class, “Creating Dangerously: Writing from Contact Zones.”

Over the last decade, the political crisis over ‘indigene’ rights and political representation in Ugbabe’s home city of Jos has developed into a protracted communal conflict affecting most parts of the area.

As a writer and South Asian woman settled in an increasingly unstable part of Nigeria, the risks and uncertainty became personal, Ugbabe says. These risks weighing upon her became intrinsically associated with a place she considered home—the town of Jos, which in the early days was a quaint, attractive outpost but has now devolved into a deeply fractured, overpopulated town rife with ethno-religious conflict. Ugbabe and her family, along with Nigerian friends, colleagues, and neighbors, found themselves at the center of the vortex of events. Disruption of work and a climate of insecurity escalated over the years as Jos deteriorated and the town became divided along ethnic and religious lines.

An invitation from Harvard University, to serve as Visiting Scholar with the Women and Gender Studies program, enabled Ugbabe to leave Jos and continue her writing and academic work in the peaceful environment of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The period also enabled her to distance herself temporarily from the tumult in Jos and to gain new perspective on the risks faced by fellow writers and academics in her beloved home country, Nigeria. As that fellowship neared its end, the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) reached out to Ugbabe with the new opportunity at Fordham. This year-long pilot position will allow Ugbabe to continue writing and make headway with her research while being part of an enriching, safe, and encouraging community.

Street Scene: Jos, Nigeria The pollution comes from thousands of motorbikes which are the main transport in town. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moore under CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic license

Jos is a city in the Middle Belt of Nigeria.

“The city has a population of about 900,000 residents based on the 2006 census. Popularly called ‘J-town’, it is the administrative capital of Plateau State.

“The city is located on the Jos Plateau at an elevation of about 1,238 metres or 4,062 feet high above sea level. During British colonial rule, Jos was an important centre for tin mining. In recent years it has suffered violent religious clashes between its Muslim and Christian populations in 2001, 2008, 2010, and 2011.” MORE

A Decade of Suffering

“In the past decade, more than 3,800 people have been killed in inter-communal violence in Plateau State, including as many as 1,000 in 2001 in Jos and more than 75 Christians and at least 700 Muslims in 2004 in Yelwa, southern Plateau State. In November 2008, two days of inter-communal clashes following local government elections in Jos left at least 700 dead.” MORE

Some of the killings in Jos hit very close to home for Ugbabe. In 2007, a university professor was kidnapped and never found. Around that same time, church members were attacked, a neighbor’s home was set on fire, and a colleague’s daughter was killed in a bomb blast, to name just a few incidents.

RELATED:

This feature is compiled courtesy of Artists at Risk, PEN America,  Human Rights Watch, Fordham University and Wikipedia 

The Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) brings together organizations around the world that are committed to defending and promoting artistic freedom of expression, and to ensuring that artists everywhere can live and work without fear.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Human Rights Watch

If you are reading this in an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to the site to view this video.

PEN America’s new report…Trump the Truth: Free Expression in the President’s First 100 Days

PEN America Executive Director, Suzanne Nossel


PEN America’s new report Trump the Truth: Free Expression in the President’s First 100 Days clocks more than seventy separate instances where President Trump or senior Administration officials have taken potshots at the press, including Presidential tweets decrying “fake news,” restrictions on media access, intimations that the press has “their reasons” for not reporting terror attacks, and branding press outlets as “the enemy of the American people.” These instances amount to near-daily efforts by the Trump Administration to undermine the press during the President’s first 100 days. Such efforts not only chip away at public trust for the media and its indispensable role in keeping the public informed, but also signal to regimes abroad that the United States will not stand up for press freedom.

“President Trump has aimed more barbs at the press than he has served working days in office,” said Suzanne Nossel, PEN America’s Executive Director. “Trump has set a tone whereby government officials are not obligated to answer tough questions, be transparent to the American people, or demonstrate basic civility toward those who report on their policies. The Trump Administration’s posture towards the press has severe ramifications for America’s democracy and for governments abroad that are looking to legitimize abuses of press freedom. His snide, sneering approach to media he considers unfriendly is unbefitting a President of the nation that has prided itself on being a global standard-bearer for free expression.”

The thirty-three-page report—launched to evaluate Trump’s first 100 days from the perspective of free expression and press freedom—also details President Trump’s attacks on the truth, as well as his administration’s efforts to delegitimize dissent, draw the curtains on government transparency and reduce privacy rights at the border.


2014 Press Freedom Index: dark pink, very serious situation; medium pink, difficult situation; yellow, noticeable problems;, light green, satisfactory situation; dark green, good situation;  gray, not classified / no data


Trump the Truth is the newest installment in PEN America’s efforts to safeguard press freedoms and free expression rights under the Trump Administration. On January 15, PEN America held the flagship “Writers Resist” event on the steps of the New York Public Library before submitting a petition asking President Trump to commit to upholding the First Amendment and to refrain from his attacks on the press. The petition, which collected over 100,000 signatures, included the names of every previous living Poet Laureate. In March, PEN America submitted another petition, again with over 100,000 signatures, to Rep. Louise Slaughter, co-chair of the House Arts Caucus, to protest the proposed defunding of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities under the Trump Administration. More recently, on April 25, PEN America awarded the Women’s March its 2017 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award, for its “clarion call that Americans would not sit back in the face of threats to values and freedoms.”


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


This feature and the photograph is courtesy of PEN America. The photograph is under CC BY-SA 4.0 license; world map showing Press Freedom Index classification by country based upon the report Press Freedom Index 2014 from Reporters Without Borders.


RELATED: 

FREE SPEECH AND UNFREE NEWS, The Paradox of Press Freedom in America by Sam Lebovic, Assistant Professor of U.S. History: 20th century culture and politics; U.S. and the world; media history; democracy; civil liberties; cultural globalization.

Some of us are old enough to remember when freedom of the press went beyond the misconception that the right to free speech also meant a free press, times when cities had multiple newspapers and when journalists – and citizens – had fairly unrestrained access to news and information.

With the current decline of daily newspapers and of corporate consolidation of media and national security that is ever more secretive, Lebovic shows that the right of free speech is insufficient. It does not insure a free press. Lebovic’s exploratiom of the history of mid-20th Century press freedom obliges us to remember, explore – and perhaps begin to expect again – the citizen’s right to unfettered news and information.