Beaven Tapureta Bookshelf
Practical book critics know it’s true it takes a couple of books to discover a certain trend or common trait in a selected generation or group of writers.
A new English poetry collection that has just come in the Bookshelf confirms the above and is itself like a progressive brick in a particular structure being raised by young Zimbabwean women writers.
This year alone, a group of young women, comprising poets, novelists and motivational writers, mostly writing in Shona and English languages, published works directly or indirectly dipped in the pursuit of a true expression of what can simply be called freedom of heart and mind. Only countable weeks have gone by since we last read such empowering kind of poetry mostly meant for young women written by young women like Tsitsi A Muchokwani (A Lotus Heart), Tabeth Manyonga (Passage of Life), and few others.
The girl child experiences are written down as part of the universal agenda, spiced with other themes and captured in moving poetry, are what 21-year-old Christine Nhamo readies for the reader in her fresh collection “A Handful of Tears”.
The title and some of the poems, and how the poet blends two forms of media — an expressive photo accompanies each poem — carry the solemnity of the poet’s ideas and emotions about certain issues she observes within herself or outside her.
This does not imply that one finds much sorrow than joy in this collection. There are some comic images and diverse subjects to lighten up the mood or give the reader something pricking or different to think about.
“A Handful of Tears”, in its own classic way, has the power of irony, rhyme, imagery and word choice which you are apt to discover and feel in previous collections by other emerging female poets. It uses the power of photography and words.
About forty poems, each tagged with a photo expressing the poem’s idea or spirit, investigate a range of issues such as gender, motivation, human behaviour, lost cultural or patriotic values, children’s rights, religion and family, and death.
The collection opens with a poem about a 13—year old girl on the street, begging from passers—by who care more about tithes or church offerings than the needy like her. You see the plight of a same—aged girl in ‘‘Forced to Marry’’.
In ‘‘I Married a Monster’’, a woman regrets marrying a lover—turned—monster who makes her “his punch bag” even when the children are watching. Christine, through her poem ‘‘Men Don’t Cry’’, teaches us that crying is a human feeling, and some men turn into ‘monsters’ because society has prejudiced the crying habit as a weakness in men. Yet, there are loving men out there in some homes as represented in pieces like ‘‘I Love You My Wife’’.
There is an element of autobiography in some of Christine’s poems such as ‘‘A Letter to My Mother’’ and ‘‘The Strongest Woman I Know’’ — and both poems distinctly honour the poet’s mother.
This daughter—to—mother attachment carries a background which Bookshelf got curious to delve into and Christine’s mother, Mrs. Glandina Nhamo, to whom the two poems are dedicated, gladly told it all.
She said Christine at three was already showing inklings of an artist. She remembers her little daughter would amaze her by tidying up the house in very creative ways.
The home gradually and naturally turned into Christine’s art academy as she would come back from school and stage a solo drama performance or apportion roles to her young sisters while she took the main act.
“I thank the Almighty Jesus Christ for blessing my daughter. What started as a game has now manifested as a reality. I am proud and feel honoured to be her mother and I pray God that her wisdom can be increased,” said Mrs Nhamo.
Christine Nhamo lives in Harare, Zimbabwe, but she is currently in Russia where she is studying International Law.
“A Handful of Tears” is her third book, but the first poetry anthology.