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moon - Collection of poems by Chenjerai Hove
Patrick Burnett, Fahamu
December 16, 2004
Published by Weaver Press LTD. Exclusively distributed by African
Books Collective Ltd, The Jam Factory, 27 Park End Street, Oxford
OX1 1HU United Kingdom email@example.com
used to dream of flying so much that his father even considered
sending him to a traditional healer so that he could be cured of
the ailment. He refused, telling his father: "Why should I
not dream like that? It is so beautiful to fly."
Hove writes in the introduction to the extraordinary collection
of poems contained in Blind Moon: "the borders of human geography
are broken only when poetry speaks. and poetry speaks not only about
landscapes, but about peoplescapes, the human body and its aspirations
to be someone else. the human soul and its dreams be all the souls
of animals and birds and the winds and the skies. life is like that.
and life is poetry"
Blind Moon is extraordinary because it seeks to fulfil the ambition
of life as poetry; poetry as life. Given Hove’s dreams of flight
it is no surprise that much of the poetry contains allusions to
flying, although the immediate temptation to associate this with
escape would be wrong. Perhaps it is just beautiful to fly, to give
expression to the soul that is deep within each of us and yearns
to be released into the space that is the sky, to take off and soar
not as a way to leave our daily lives but as a way to fulfil our
own individual potentials. It is sometimes helpful when reading
the poetry to imagine yourself "flying with outstretched wings"
along with Hove through a universe of human experience.
This is not to say that the poetry is always uplifting or lost in
a Wordsworthian consciousness of babbling brooks and fields of daffodils.
There is a sadness and contained fury in much of the poetry, born
out of the situation in Hove’s birthplace and nation, Zimbabwe.
It is clear that to fly does not mean separating the individual
from the land, from the politics of daily life, although politics
of a tyrannical nature is seen more as a restriction to human potential
– a restriction to flight - than something which helps to lift the
Hove feels the anguish of Zimbabwe acutely and gives voice to it
throughout this collection, sometimes in haunting and evocative
style, as in "…there is a painful piece of land inside me…a
pain without a name, inside me." Nor is Hove afraid to direct
his anger. He writes: "…on your way to the house of power…you
refused to listen…to the tunes of the birds…the birds of your conscience."
Sometimes poetry that dabbles with the political risks being reduced
to diatribe. But the strength of Hove’s poetry is that it does not
fall into this trap: it is firmly located in the broader context
of human suffering and experience and because it touches emotions
on this level it is all the more stronger, all the more representative
of the general human condition.
Apart from the mastery Hove demonstrates over his lines and the
skilful and innovative way in which he makes the language work for
him, the wonderful experience about this volume is that it is a
mere 60 pages long. Yet read as a whole it is rich in touching a
range of human experiences and emotions, seeming to move effortlessly
between earth and sky, love and death. It is angry and sad, but
it is not bitter. In Hove’s world there is still hope, there is
still love, there is still emotion. There is potential for a better
world where the human soul can be released to fly like a bird.
Hove was born in Mazvihwa communals land, southern Zimbabwe, near
the mining town of Zvishavane. He is best known for Bones, which
won the Zimbabwe literary prize in 1998, and the 1989 Noma Award
for publishing in Africa. Other published works include Masimba
Avanhu? (1986), Shadows (1991), and Ancestors (1994). He has travelled
extensively throughout Africa, Europe and the United States on lecture
tours and his books have been translated into several languages,
including French, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch and
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