Chirikure Chirikure reviews Splinters of a Mirage Dawn, An Anthology of Migrant Poetry of South Africa
Review by Chirikure Chirikure
As the title indicates, this volume is a collection of migrant poetry from South Africa. According to one of the editors, Naomi Nkealah, ‘this anthology was born out of a need to document, in poetic form, the vast experiences of migrants living in South Africa.’ True to its objective, the volume features twenty poets who migrated into South Africa, from different parts of the world. Migration, as a subject, is complex. The circumstances that force people to move from one place to another differ from one person to the other. The physical as well as the emotional paths that they go through vary. As such, each poet interprets his/her experiences in an individual way. This makes it quite a mammoth task, on the part of the editors, to decide which piece to pick or leave out in an anthology of this nature. As stated above, the main objective of this anthology is to ‘document, in poetic form’. Thus, over and above everything else, the final selection had to be based on the quality of the poetry. This anthology managed to attain that complex balance between subject matter and artistic quality. There is also quite a lot of variety within that ‘confined space’ of one thematic focus. The voices are so different, so varied, in their texture, tone, depth, aroma, and flavour. One’s emotions rise up and down, as one moves from one poet to the other. Some pieces make you drop a tear, while others make you chuckle through their ability to make a sad story very much light-hearted. This anthology is a solid step in the overdue journey towards a world where we all sing from the same page, in our varied, individual voices.
(Born 1962) is a Zimbabwean writer of poetry, prose, educational and children’s books. He writes in Shona and English. He is also a performance poet, performing solo and/or with musical accompaniment. He has recorded his poetry with music. All his poetry books have received several local and international awards and/or nominations. His poetry has been translated into a number of languages. He is a recipient of the DAAD Artists in Berlin fellowship for 2011/12 and the University of Iowa (USA) fellowship for 1990.
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