On Saturday I went to the Poetry in Motion event at the Scottish Poetry Library which forms part of the Africa in Motion film festival. Five poets were there, mostly from Zimbabwe, but including Yinka Ekundayo from Nigeria, as well as Mara, a story-teller from Kenya who compered the event and contributed some thought-provoking stories between readings.
It would be easy to be side-tracked by some of the issues raised by these poets. 'Diaspora' turns out to be one of the main concerns of the poems in my forth-coming collection (it wasn't my intention, but that's what happened), and it was fascinating to see the take of the new generation on the themes of extended family, exile, ("When did soon become a decade?" to quote from Kennedy Madhombiro), and homesickness - "We sleep with eyes open/ we dream in tears" (Emmanuel Sairosi).
I can't help comparing Luka Bloom's Chicago
In the city of Chicago
As the evening shadows fall,
there are people dreaming
of the hills of Donegal.
which conveys nothing more than a rather faded nostalgia, compared with the writings of men who live their family lives on the phone or the internet, who remember the smell of roast mealie and long for the sun in a grey country "where colour is like sin" (Emmanuel Sairosi again).
But really I want to introduce the poets. They were excellent, especially Emannuel Sairosi, and Tawone Sithole who co-founded Seeds of Thought in Glasgow ("a non-funded urban poetry group, hosting regular poetry and acoustic music events in Glasgow, and beyond. Not your average kinda fluffy cloud poetry, its a fusion of beat / comedic / urban and Conscious poetry"). This pretty much describes his poetry, which was rhythmic, wittily rhymed, upbeat and confident. Seeds of Thought is a group I'm going to be following up.
Special thanks for this wonderful event should go to Stefanie van der Peer of Africa in Motion and Richie McCaffery, who organised it all.