FROM THE DESK OF MBIZO CHIRASHA: Opportunity Knocks for Women Poets

CALL for SUBMISSIONS as well as introducing our iconic Guest Editor for the June Edition Jamie Dedes:

Mbizo Chirasha

This edition gives women poets a platform to reflect as they share their experiences of the COVID 19 menace and  as well visualizing their lives and that of their communities after the COVID19 threats, loss and pain.  Sobriety and healing can be brought back by written word, writing, poetic reflections and reading experiences. We continue to value creativity and diversity. We say every positive change begins with writing. Every revolution  began and ended by WORD. We look forward to reading your  writings and reflections. Thumbs-up to Womawords 2020 Poet Laureate and June Edition Guest Editor JAMIE DEDES. Together We Rise.

The WOMAWORDS press June Edition is to be edited by our Poet Laureate and USA Associate to the WOMAWORDS Hall of Fame, Jamie Dedes.“The call is open to women poets from May 20 through June 20.“Ten poems and poets will be selected from the submissions, which should include a short third-person bio of thirty-to-sixty words and your photograph.“Submissions to be forwarded to BOTH Mbizo Chirasha womawordpress@gmail.com and cc’d Jamie Dedes at thepoetbyday@gmail.com.

JAMIE DEDES is a Lebanese-American poet and free-lance writer. She is the founder and curator of The Poet by Day, info hub for poets and writers, and the founder of The Bardo Group, publishers of The BeZine, of which she was the founding editor and is currently a co-manager editor with Michael Dickel. Ms. Dedes is the Poet Laureate of WOMAWORDS Press 2020 and U.S associate to that press as well. Her debut collection, The Damask Garden is due out fall 2020 from Blue Dolphin Press.

– Mbizo Chirasha

 

INSIDE  JAMIE  DEDES’

POETRY  LAB

MY EARS ARE DEAF, MY EYES HEAR A SONG

mountains rise round, Mother’s ever pregnant belly
and the aspens dance with paper-barked madrone
screeching their yellows and reds, brindle and feral
like the snaked hairs of Medusa, they are warning

looming over me as I lay miles away on a mesa
the bones of my ancestors, the heart of my child
the pelts of the brown minks my father sewed
the vultures circle, mesmerized by my demise

I feed on the pinion and ride mountain lions
down slopes, into valleys, a wanderer, lost and lost
looking eastward, seeking John Chapman
he has something to say, or maybe it’s westward

John Muir, my ears are deaf, my eyes hear a song
emerging from brown bear, a surfeit of salmon
burning sage, clearing America, the wild beasts
are defanged and declawed and I am hawk-eyed.

A CENTURY OF POSSIBLE PEACE

            after Muriel Rukeyser
.
I lived in the century of world wars and
into the century of “hot spots” and “conflicts,”
those isolated regions of hostility and battle, of
choreographed shows of military cliché and the
violent disaffected eruptions of the marginalized

Every day is an homage to some insanity
Media reports are conveyed with facile intensity
by hyperkinetic journalists delivering easy
and ominous conclusions based on seemingly
recondite facts, quickly moving to celebrity
gossip and other insipid topics . . .

I have lived in two centuries of wars
I know what it is to be exhausted by the
vain posturing of the ruling class and
the tired protestations of tribal unity and
supremacy based on accidents of birth

I know what it is to imagine peace across
the circumference of one small blue ball
in a Universe of inestimable size and breadth
I know that darkness can descend with the
speed of light and that love is more than an
anchor and that vision keeps our dreams alive

I have lived into the century where the world is
grown small, where the peacemakers are tireless
and perhaps enough hearts have grown large …
sometimes I think I am living in the century
where peace is as possible as war

THE SIXTH MASS EXTINCTION

the ghosts of our parents search vainly
for wildflowers near the beach at Big Sur

they were deaf to the threat in thunder,
but we were struck by lightning,
heaved in the rain and waves and
the overflow from the melting ice

the computers went down
their screens black as the wicked water,
in whirling chaos they morphed into drums

every fetus turned in the womb,
the men went to the mountain tops
and the women sheltered in caves

the souls of saints and sinners
were run through a cosmic wash cycle
after the spin dry, a new wisdom

but the shades of our parents remain,
they wait in vain for us at Big Sur,
in vain by the Santa Lucia Mountains

jamie100000

About Womawords Literary Press

Womawords, an international eZine based in Africa, is the heart child of multi-award winning Zimbabwean poet in exile, Mbizo Chirasha.  It was established to support women and girls through the publication of activist poetry by women.  Current projects are Womawords companion publication, Liberating Voices Journal, and the newly founded Womawords Hall of Fame.

The Womawords Hall of Fame seeks to amplify women’s voices through literary and other arts and comprises representatives from around the globe: writers, poets, editors, and mentors among others.


JAMIE DEDES is a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. She curates the Poet by Day Webzine [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. Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments. Jamie is also the founder and founding editor of The BeZine, which she currently manages and edits with American-Israeli poet, Michael Dickel (Meta /Phor(e) /Play).

MBIZO CHIRASHA (Mbizo, The Black Poet)  \is the founder of Womawords Literary Press, which is dedicated to giving space to the voices of women and girls. He is a multi-award winning poet from Zimbabwe who is in exile and running for his life. We have been coordinating in the search for safe harbor for him. In part I am posting this today to remind everyone that while we’ve made progress with funding, we still need to find a host for Mbizo, preferably Germany. Open to suggestion.  Connect with me (thepoetbyday@gmail.com) if you are able to help, have leads, or have questions. You can read more about Mbizo and his story: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Poet Mbizo Chirasha, A Life on the Run, Interview.

Call for Submissions by Women Poets to Womawords Literary Press, June 2020 Edition

Photograph courtesy João Silas, Unsplash

Today Mbizo Chirasha, founder and curator of Wombwords Literary Press, announced a Call for Submissions to the June 2020 edition themed Imagining Life After COVID-19.



CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

IMAGINING LIFE AFTER COVID-19

“The June edition is to be edited by our Poet Laureate and USA Associate to the Womawords Hall of Fame, Jamie Dedes.

“The call is open to women poets from May 20 through June 20.

“Ten poems and poets will be selected from the submissions, which should include a short third-person bio of thirty-to-sixty words and your photograph.


TO ENTER

“Submissions to be forwarded to BOTH

  • Mbizo Chirasha womawordpress@gmail.com
  • and cc’d Jamie Dedes at thepoetbyday@gmail.com”

About Womawords Literary Press

Womawords, an international eZine based in Africa, is the heart child of multi-award winning Zimbabwean poet in exile, Mbizo Chirasha.  It was established to support women and girls through the publication of activist poetry by women.  Current projects are Womawords companion publication, Liberating Voices Journal, and the newly founded Womawords Hall of Fame.

The Womawords Hall of Fame seeks to amplify women’s voices through literary and other arts and comprises representatives from around the globe: writers, poets, editors, and mentors among others.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Maintain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



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

MAMA, Goddess of All Times, An Eulogy to Mother (Part 2), a lyric essay by Zimbabwean Poet in Exile, Mbizo Chirasha

Mbizo’s Mom

“In all her doings my mother influenced me to have endurance, dedication, resistance, faith and resilience.” Mbizo Chirasha



Our village rondavels sat on the peripheral fringes of Dayataya, that elephantine mountain of home. It cracked with a fervent babyish glee every promising dawn. Birds sang soprano and black baboons yelped baritone. The chattering monkeys and jiving rock rabbits chanted tenor. Musical Mother, your footsteps to the mountain to pick firewood for our morning meal was a goddess jive, complimenting nature’s rhythm. This is points to the meaning of mothers. They are angels, messengers of life, You, my Mother, are the goddess of all times.

Dayataya wore a light-yellow tinge on its head at dawn. Toward sunset it cracked a harmless oxblood tinted smile. You wore an earthly doek [bandana] with your resilience matching that yellow, the color of freedom.

Dayataya was our mountain of home. Its cousin, Zvegona, remained holy and steadfast, standing still in hard seasons of drought and winter. Like the steely goddess in you, it never surrenders to ravaging winds and tumultuous storms. Zvegona strutted in grey gowns on winter mornings. At night, it switched to black to compete with Dayatayas blankets of shadows that lulled us to sleep and guide us against nightmares and omens.

Your motherly love was big and it filled the caves, thickets and crevices of Dayataya. Zvamapere hills and Gwenyuchi kissed the sunrise exchanging breath in a sprightly romantic parody. At that time Corona Virus and his ancestors Influenza and Whooping cough were not yet born, the earth was virgin and fresh as a country damsel. The Zvamapere hills danced in blue bridal veils. Gwenyuchi shuffled in his grey silver suit passing the holy mist to his beloved bride Zvamapere. You giggled with joy at nature’s lively escapades.

Dear Mama, you trudged through hills and mountains and along fields hunting for life and food to feed your brood.  When hunger folded its legs on our doorsteps and our stomachs roared with emptiness, you wept passionately. You persisted and won the battles against hunger. We, your brood, jostled in ignorance of your motherly dedication. We were overjoyed by the gift of food after the restless sleep of empty bellies.

You are the goddess of all times. When poverty erected its manhood into our homestead, you fumbled metaphors to gods and you chanted resistance. Then poverty, the coward scampered to other villages, those lacking your determination.Your hoe cracked palms defended our bellies from the devastation of hunger and poverty.
.
The earth roasted time into years and years baked themselves into war.  Chimurenga war arrived with its sleepiness nights, beatings, violence, blood, songs and massacres. You fought side by side with combatants with zeal and spirit for a new country. A war collaborator par-excellence, you slaughtered and stewed road runner chickens for comrades and scampered for blankets and jeans to clothe war cadres, you endured the pain of gun butts’ beatings inflicted by colonialist dans.  The rattling of rains and the rat tat of bullets during Pungwes Nights. You were a blessed soul   heaving the breath of the revolution. I dangled on your backside chanting verses imitating war time songs . . .

Vana Mai bikai Sadza, Vana Venyu Tauya

Vana Mai bikai Sadza Vana Venyu , Yuwi vana bikai  Yuwi vana bikai Sadza

Vana Venyu tauya

You sang with war collaborators and comrades despite the incessant clutter of guns and hair harrowing grenades explosions. I am child of war, of rain, of the hard road and victory songs.

The storms of war raged. You protected my young body through thickets of demons and jungles of lions as I smelt the rhythm of Chimurenga and the wave of gun smoke. Behind your revolution hardened back, I carved poetry from your sweet lullabies and grieving hymns, I became a griot before I teethed. The gift I carried and still carry in my DNA, a gift from gods. Shaped by your love, I am a griot of the land. I speak to Kings, Queens,, Mediums and Revolutionaries. I preach justice to unjust. I sing truth to political imbeciles. I voice human rights to immoral ideological zealots. Dear Mama, I remain resolute. I am a griot, prince to carry forward your ideals and example. You remain my goddess of all times.

Sometime back you told of the day when I was born, that the sun went back early into the womb of earth, the moon was torn into two halves, wind raged, a storm ensued, thunder roared, lightning bolts cracked in synchrony with gun claps. The rat tat of pelting raindrops witnessed your labor pains on God’s night. I was born. The angry earth was reversed to harmony, the Chimurenga war paused, freedom songs vibrated the grenade pregnant earth. You and other peasants of the land danced fervently for the black cockerel and his revolutionary cabal. My tender soul smiled at the paradox. You, father and the villagers drank the socialist revolutionary propaganda like whisky. You munched the Nkurumaist-Castroist-Mugabeist Ideological biscuits like any other war-time peasants. Nevertheless, black cockerels drank the revolutionary eggs and you returned to scratch for dear life on the rock fringes of Dayataya. Still, you remained the goddess of all times.

I grew up as Ndoda [Xhosa term for man], a weakling because gun claps broke my ears and my lungs. I suffered from asthma, chest pains, and chronic ear infections. You carried me to hospitals in light and night for years and decades, you wept in between the my tortured  seizures until your tears dried. You consulted with every hospital, healer, and prophet on my behalf. Time passed and the gods and ancestors freed me from the bondage of Satan. I grew perfectly then like a sweet potato enjoying the warmth caress of red earth. Years stewed into decades and roasted into more decades. I became a steadfast griot, toiling in the land of the Almighty Lord. I am your prince. You remain the goddess of all times.

In the wake of a pregnant anopheles [a type of mosquito] humming its blood-sucking hymn, and after bedbugs launched a terrorist bombing against my skin, I got dizzy and convulsed. I swatted the mosquitos with my big thumb and the bedbugs scattered in no time. I slept again and a  revealing dream spoke to me in the rush of a presidential motorcade to long waiting hope-drained villagers.

I dreamt of you Mother, wearing a sparkling silver wedding dress, walking side by side by the great king of all times, my departed father. The Mahosa totem appeared. I carried a lit white candle and you had a bunch of white roses. A wedding song boomed feverishly from a big stereo. I can’t remember the singer, but I remember the beautiful poetic song,

Vul’indlela wemamgobhozi
He unyana wam
Helele uyashada namhlanje
Vul’indlela wela ma ngiyabuza
Msuba nomona
Unyana wami uthathile
Bengingazi ngiyombon’umakoti
Unyana wam eh ujongile this time

You looked gorgeous like Zvegona pastures during rainy season. Your smile was wide like a full summer moon. Father winked to you with heartily contentment and then swallowed their desire. I smiled to the dream and you smiled back then disappeared in a white wedding limousine. I pondered. I failed to calculate the meaning and the reason. Then on the Saturday that followed that Friday night dream, a windy morning, and my brother wept in the phone, telling me of your departure. Your death was unexpected and I failed to be there to say goodbye for the world is now ravenous.

The revolution is roasting its own grandsons and daughters. The devil is manancing. His threat long , coy  and rogue. He gave birth to a cruel goblin of a son called Corona Virus. Now every door of every home is locked. Every gate of every country is locked. The goddess have take a breather, those pacesetters and trendsetters. I know I was not there to cast the last lump of shovel dust to say goodbye spirit Queen. I did what I can as a prince, your griot son, including prayers. God knows I sang a spirited supplications to the angels of God to welcome and place your motherly in the and resilient soul in the warm embrace of the Almighty God.

I failed to weep not because I am a coward. Today as I write this eulogy and my heart caves, bleeding grief. I remain chanting resilience as every morning I see you floating in the mist of dawn and later wrapped in the cloaked night  I watch you sending guardian angels to guide us against evil, to protect us from poverty, hunger and demons. Dear Mama, I remain resolute knowing death is not a good guest nor a best host. I know we meet one day in the heavenly mansions of God.

Fambai Zvakanaka Shoko

Makwiramiti, mahomu-homu
Vanopona nekuba
Vanamushamba negore
Makumbo mana muswe weshanu
Hekani Soko yangu yiyi
Vakaera mutupo umwe nashe
Vana Va
Pfumojena
Vakabva Guruuswa
Soko Mbire ya
Svosve
Vanobva Hwedza
Vapfuri vemhangura
Veku 
Matonjeni vanaisi vemvura
Zvaitwa matarira vari mumabwe
Mhanimani tonodya, svosve tichobovera
Maita zvenyu rudzi rukuru
Matangakugara
Vakawana ushe neuchenjeri
Vakufamba hujeukidza kwandabva
Pagerwe rinongova jemedzanwa
Kugara hukwenya-kwenya
Vari mawere maramba kurimba
Vamazvikongonyadza kufamba hukanya
Zvibwezvitedza, zvinotedzera vari kure
Asi vari padyo vachitamba nazvo
Zvaitwa mukanya rudzi rusina chiramwa
Maita vari Makoromokwa, Mugarandaguta
Aiwa zvaonekwa Vhudzijena

You remain the goddess of all times. I chant resilience!

© 2020, Mbizo Chirasha 

Link to Part 1 HERE.

Mbizo Chirasha

MBIZO CHIRASHA (Mbizo, The Black Poet) is one of the newest members of the Zine team and  a recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017). He is a 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.

MAMA, Goddess of All Times, An Eulogy to Mother (Part 1) by Zimbabwean Poet in Exile, Mbizo Chirasha

Mbizo’s Mom

“In all her doings my mother influenced me to have endurance, dedication, resistance, and faith.” Mbizo Chirasha



Recently, Zimbabwean poet, Mbizo Chirasha, lost his mom. Knowing that his sense of loss and grief is compounded by the fact of his exile and an inability therefore to be with her in her last days and hours or to attend whatever funeral and memorial services are customary in his country, I invited Mbizo to write about his mom, explaining that today in the U.S. we celebrate mothers. We publish Part 1 in this post, an interview, to be followed by a hybrid poem in Part 2. / Jamie 

1.) JAMIE: Mbizo, I’m sorry to learn of your loss and thank you for being willing to share some of your thoughts and poetry with us on what is Mother’s Day here in the States. When you think of your mom, what is the characteristic that stands out most?

MBIZO: I was born during the 1970s liberation struggle and my mother still even suckling a baby who was myself. She remained dedicated as the struggle collaborator. She trudged in many areas working hand in glove with combatants of the struggle, cooking for them, washing for them, and working as messengers of the war against colonialism.  Nights they endure the brunt of war violence, heavy rains and ravaging wild animals, walking war bases for vigils and all night chores . Thus, she was a great example of unmatched resilience and dedication to change, to freedom for positive transformation.

My mother was gifted with the spirit of hardworking mother love. Everything we ate came from hard work, days of sweat and scramble in the fields to plant, cultivate, weed and harvest food and cash for uniforms and other necessities. She had a blessing of collectivism. She believed in collectivist approach in life. We used to have traditional beer gatherings that involved a lot of relatives, neighbors, and fellow villagers. Mother would send out a call to villagers who thrashed millet and shelled maize, from which the beer was traditionally brewed. It was shared along with goat meat and nonalcoholic traditional beverages.

We were taught to be focused, work hard, and nurture the spirit of never giving up through all those years of menacing when my mother would walk miles and miles in the scorching weather with other women. Their resolute intention was  to fetch and hunt for food for our survival. We were taught to be strong, diligent, creative, hard working. We were taught to live according to our means. A great mother indeed. A dedicated soul.

2.) JAMIE: I remember that your dad was a griot, so some of his influence on you is clear in that very title.  In what ways did your mom influence your love of and work on arts and literature?

MBIZO: Yes, my father was daring with words: poetry and other literature and stories. I learnt reading, spelling and writing from him from the tender age of four. My mother played a big role in everything to make me understand I must work hard in everything I do. After the death my father, she carved a creative spirit in me.  She never gave up life. Her ways remained intact. She remained loyal to our clan. She never got married again but she continued to look after us throughout the conflicts. Her leadership, her energy, her resilience, her dedication to life is in my DNA, carried with me as the seed that sat in her womb.

She might not have known much of literary arts but the kind of shaping she did gave us our character, our life and everything is what you see today as I work to grow my griot career. Like my mother, I never have given up , I survive and soldier on even in traumatizing challenges. It is a gift from a mother who was a diligent formidable spirit. Thanks to her, I can be an unrelenting griot. Thanks to her I learned to think outside the box, to the rise to every occasion that warrants attention, to challenge naysayers. My mother was a tigress, unrelenting in her fight.

3.) JAMIE: How did your mom influence your activism?

MBIZO: She was part of the liberation struggle system, that were unrelenting in the struggle for the freedom of the country we have today.  I believe they did their part well. However, in post-independence Zimbabwe we as people we have issues with the way the country is being governed.  There is a lot corruption since 1980.   Masses are suffering. Hence, I understand that freedom does not come on silver platter but its fought for with faith and resilience. Thus today I switch my roles to writing, activism, and spoken word performances. today I stand fighting to right wrong perceptions with the guiding example of our mothers and fathers who fought their own war and they won. I fight my war through literary activism . In all her doings my mother influenced me to have endurance, dedication, resistance, faith and resilience.

© 2020, Mbizo Chirasha (Mbizo, The Black Poet)

Link to Part 2 HERE.

MBIZO CHIRASHA (Mbizo, The Black Poet) is one of the newest members of The BeZine core team. He is the founder of Womawords Literary Press, which is dedicated to giving space to the voices of women and girls and is a partner in The BeZine International Poetry Month,a blog event. He is a multi-award winning poet from Zimbabwe who is on the run. We have been coordinating in the search for safe harbor. In part I am posting this today to remind everyone that while we’ve made progress with funding, we still need to find a host for Mbizo, preferably Germany. Open to suggestion.  Connect with me if you are able to help, have leads, or have questions. You can read more about Mbizo and his story: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Poet Mbizo Chirasha, A Life on the Run, Interview.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Sustain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



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