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Kanyanisa Poetry Slam comes to town

By Style Reporter

Theatre In The Park in partnership with LitFest is scheduled to launch the inaugural Kanyanisa Poetry Slam on Saturday at their Harare Gardens base in Harare.

The spoken word competition will mark the first in a series of monthly poetry slams set to take place at the venue throughout the year.

In a statement, organisers described the concept as a platform for local performers to showcase their art and coalesce into a united movement that will spread its wings into the continent.

“Kanyanisa is intended to give a platform to Zimbabwe’s performing poets, culminating in an international African Poetry Slam in November open to poets from all over the continent,” read part of the statement.

“This is the first time Theatre In The Park has produced a poetry slam with the intention to bring together aspiring, emerging and established spoken word artistes to develop and showcase their talents and to build one of the strongest slam communities in Africa.”

The name “Kanyanisa” is a Shona word that means to “mix for best results” while it is also borrowed from veteran poet Chirikure Chirikure’s piece of the same title, which the late jazz icon Oliver Mtukudzi turned into a song back in 1995.

According to the statement, the poetry slam, just like the poem, intends to explore themes about building community cohesion, understanding and tolerance.

“Ultimately the aim is to develop the art of performance poetry locally and internationally by establishing a space where poets can share their stories, craft and grow their talent,” it reads.

Theatre In The Park creative director Peter Churu described the open-to-all event as a space to blend “languages, styles, genders, points of view”.

“The idea is to bring together different people to mix their ideas and energy to create a new, vibrant monthly performing poetry space,” said Churu.

“We are bringing together the audience, performers, and poets in order to build peace, tolerance, and the spiritual and moral well-being of our communities.”

Meanwhile, well-known poet Shoes Lambada will be the Slam Master and poets will compete for prizes in an event that the organisers say is meant to illustrate the role of poetry in creating harmony in Zimbabwe. At the end of the year, poets will be invited to take part in the African Poetry Slam along with other African poets.

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