Beating the Graves | Kuyapiga Makaburi

(I hesitated to translate the book’s title, but decided to remain faithful to the bilingual nature of this blog at least for the title of this post.)

Now that I’ve finished reading it from cover to cover, I can share my sentiments about Beating the Graves. I might be slightly biased because of the cover image but this collection of poems is, objectively, excellent. It’s strikingly unusual, unlike anything my I had ever read before; the words used were chosen to great effect, and arranged such that each page is unique not only in content but visually as well. I’m not from Zimbabwe myself but Jaji’s themes are very familiar and speak to salient issues from a perspective that I identify with to a personal degree. Meanwhile, there are also pieces that evade me — but I remain content in accepting that maybe I am not their intended audience. Overall I’m amazed, and actually have renewed respect for the power that poetry holds as a literary genre: that entire experiences can be addressed by a mere scattering of words which, when connected like dots, form a constellation upon the reader’s mind. Reading this was a spiritual experience. Tsitsi, I look forward to seeing what next you bring forth!

(The story behind the cover image: in my second year at Wellesley, I sat for a college friend’s photography project. That friend, Lucia Nhamo, went on to flourish as an artist and this particular shot found its way into the hands of Tsitsi Jaji who selected it to grace her work. I am tickled and honoured.)

Here‘s where to get yourself a copy!

– Sylvia

***

(Nilisita kutafsiri jina la kitabu lakini hatimaye nikaamua kuwa mkweli kwa kutumia lugha mbili, angalau kwenye kichwa cha habari tu.)

Kwa kuwa sasa nimemaliza kuisoma mwanzo hadi mwisho, niko tayari kutoa maoni yangu kuhusu Beating the Graves. Inawezekana kuwa nina upendeleo kwa sababu ya picha iliyoko kwenye jalada, lakini huu mkusanyiko wa mashairi ni barabara mno. Si wa kawaida hata kidogo, sijawahi kusoma mashairi kama haya; ni dhahiri kuwa maneno yatumiwayo yalichaguliwa makusudi, na kupangwa kana kwamba kila ukurasa ni wa kipekee kwa maudhui na pia kwa muonekano. Mimi mwenyewe sio mwenyeji wa Zimbabwe lakini mandhari atumiazo Jaji zinagusia masuala muhimu niliyoelewa kwa mtazamo wa kibinafsi. Wakati huo huo, kuna mashairi yaliyonikwepa — lakini ninaridhika kukubali kuwa kwa hizo sehemu labda sikuwa mlengwa wake. Kwa ujumla nimeshangazwa hadi kuupa heshima mpya ushairi kama kitengo cha fasihi andishi: kwamba uzoefu unaweza kuelezwa kwa maneno machache hapa na pale ambayo, yaunganishwapo, hufanya mpangilio kama nyota kwenye akili ya msomaji. Ilikuwa safari ya kiroho kuyasoma haya mashairi. Tsitsi, ninasubiri kwa hamu kuona kile utakachotoa huko mbeleni!

(Simulizi fupi kuhusu hiyo picha ya kwenye jalada: nilipokuwa mwaka wa pili Wellesley, nilipigwa picha na rafiki yangu kwa ajilii ya mradi wake wa shuleni. Huyo rafiki, Lucia Nhamo, alikuja kufanikiwa kama msanii na hii picha ilimfikia Profesa Jaji aliyeichagua kupamba kazi yake. Nimefurahi mno kupewa hii heshima.)

Unaweza kujipatia nakala hapa!

– Sylvia

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