"Reading is my drug. I enjoy words an stories, especially the  delight and energy of creating one. I have also discovered the process of aiding someone to convey with tangible words the jumble of ideas within them is invigorating. I am thrilled to be a part of the Munyori Literary Journal, and for the opportunity to work with talented authors, poets, and any and all brave to share their work with the world."

Originally from Karachi, Pakistan's New York, Ailsa spent an  adventurous childhood there before immigrating to the US a couple of years ago  ready to embrace the opportunities offered to her. Currently, she is a  student at  UC Berkeley aiming for a English degree, and formerly a student  at Cosumnes River  College. She aspires to further her literary passion by  working in the book  industry and be instrumental in bringing the power of language and reading to people as the publisher or editor responsible for transforming a written work to its greatest potential. She has published a  short story in the 6th issue of the literary magazine, the Cosumnes River  Journal 2012 and was a member of the editorial board for the 7th issue of the Cosumnes River Journal. She  participated in the Hart Writer’s  Conference for the past two years. As a member  of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor  society, she was awarded a place on the All-California Academic Team 2013,  and was an All-USA Academic Team nominee.  Working as an English Tutor, she has helped students to seek the best out of their work and themselves, enlivening it to be a way for them to explore a thought and idea through their a unique lens, and how to use mistakes as stepping stones to gain a deeper comprehensive understanding of their work. 
Sacramento, CA  – Local poet Lawrence Dinkins, Jr, aka  NSAA, (pronounced En-Sah- Ah) is releasing his second
collection of poetry, Open Mic Sketchbook, and his  second live recorded poetry CD Lightning in a Bottle 2: NSAA’s
, on June 19, 2013  at 9pm at Queen Sheba Restaurant, 1704 Broadway, Sacramento, CA.

 About Open Mic Sketchbook

 Mahogany Urban Poetry Series is one of the oldest spoken word venues in Sacramento.This new poetry collection,  Open Mic Sketchbook,  is a small glance into that world.  With pictures and open mic lists collected over a time period from  when NSAA started cohosting in 2009 to 2013. The poetry world’s “open mic” culture is unique and rich, and  this book celebrates that culture along with poetry by NSAA  weaving its way through  peeking through sketches, art and photos.

 About Lightning in a Bottle 2

The first Lightning in a Bottle CD was released in 2009 around the same time NSAA started hosting at Mahogany. So it makes sense for a new live  recorded CD to be coupled together with this book where the listener can hear the vibrant poetry venues responding to spoken word with applause, laughter, and groans.

 Contact through website: NSAAtheBlackRoot.com

Memory Chirere is an award-winning Zimbabwean writer who teaches Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Zimbabwe.

NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut novel, We Need New Names confirms the existence
of  a certain special tradition in the literature of Zimbabwe which cries for adequate recognition and evaluation. 

Ever since Dambudzo Marechera of The House of Hunger’s “I got my  things and left… I couldn’t have stayed in that House of Hunger where every  morsel of sanity was snatched from you the way some kinds of bird snatch food from the very mouths of babes” in 1978, there has been a quiet but sustained outpouring of narratives about leaving the homeland (Zimbabwe) because of  crisis.

Marechera and his contemporaries and those immediately after him like  Shimmer Chinodya, Alexander Kanengoni and Valentine Mazorodze produced various  narratives about leaving home (then Rhodesia) to go either to join the  war of  liberation or to exile. These tally well with the legendary escape of  current  President Robert Mugabe himself and colleague Edgar Tekere, from troubled  Rhodesia through Inyanga into Mozambique on foot to lift the war of  liberation  to a higher notch. There are many such stories in the public  sphere.

And in more recent years, specifically dwelling on what is now  called ‘the decade of Zimbabwean crisis,’ we have Christopher Mlalazi’s Many Rivers,  Brian Chikwava’s Harare North, and the multiple voice compilation, Hunting in  Foreign Lands, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s Shadows and now; NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need  New Names, among others, writing on going away.

In all these stories ranging from the 1970s to the present, home is  depicted as going through various forms of turmoil, which expresses itself most  through political instability. The central character, who is almost always a  young fellow, flees home and country in search of an alternative existence.  

However, this character remains double faced; looking at foreign  territory with eyes of home and glancing back at home through the teary eyes of  new experience and beginning to re-read ‘home’. The resultant chasm constantly  tugs at one’s soul. However, to read NoViolet Bulawayo new book is to take  constant departures and arrivals, inside out and upside down until you lose  count because she is constantly aware of the numerous points of view to the  subject of going away from Zimbabwe. She is aware that the phenomenon that she  is working on is actually in motion and that Zimbabwe will one day rest on any  of her many intriguing sides.

To return home or to remain out here or to forget everything… is  where you locate our character. To return home is to jump back into the fire and  to accept defeat. To remain abroad, however, is to wallow in the invisibility of  a little foreigner. To forget everything is not possible if you  are as sensitive  as NoViolet Bulawayo’s Darling Nonkululeko Nkala. 
It is most ironical that at that very moment,  our character from this  kind of literature asks or fails to ask important  questions about what exactly has happened or not happened to one’s people and  country: How did it start? Who causes it? Who benefits from it? Are we certain  that we see all of it for what it is?

From Marechera to Bulawayo, history may one day judge these stories against that rubric.

The mind of Darling is an encyclopedia bursting with minute details  from, the distinct aroma and taste of guavas stolen from the backyards of a  posh  city suburb to the rigmarole of shanty town dwellers of Zimbabwe. And that  kind  of pregnancy of detail that you find in this novel, like the descriptions of the  onset of Operation Murambatsvina, is  one of its strengths:

“…the bulldozers appear boiling. But first before we see them, we  hear them. Me and Thamu and Josephat and Ncane and Mudiwa and Verona are  outside  playing with More’s new football, and then we hear thunder. Then Ncane says,  What is that? Then Josephat says,  It’s  the rain. I say, No, it’s the planes. Then Maneru’s grandfather comes sprinting  down Freedom Street without his walking stick, shouting, They are coming, Jesus  Christ, they are coming! Everybody is standing on the street, neck craned,  waiting to see. Then Mother shouts, Darling-comeintothehousenow!  But then the  bulldozers are already near big and yellow and terrible and mental teeth and  spinning dust. The men driving the bulldozers are laughing. I hear the adults  saying, Why why why, what have we done?”

NoViolet Bulawayo’s language, as in the blues, is both depressing and  exhilarating. It invites you to laugh and cry at the same time:

“Look at them leaving in droves, the children of the land, just  look  at them leaving in droves. Those with nothing are crossing borders. Those  with  strength are crossing borders. Those with ambitions are crossing borders.  Those  with hopes are crossing borders. Those with loss are crossing borders.  Moving,  running, emigrating, going deserting, walking, quitting, flying, fleeing to all  over, to countries whose names they cannot  pronounce…”

And when they get to the destinations of choice, the Zimbabweans and  fellow migrants find that there is no sweetness here   either:

“And the jobs we worked, Jesus-Jesus-Jesus, the jobs we worked….We  took scalding irons and ironed our pride flat. We cleaned toilets. We picked  tobacco and fruit under the boiling sun until we hung out our tongues and  panted  like lost hounds. We butchered animals, slit throats, drained  blood…holding our  breaths like crocodiles under water, our minds on the money  and never on our  lives. Adamou got murdered by that beast of a machine that  also ate three  fingers of Sudan’s left hand… Ecuador fell from forty stories
working on a roof  and shattered his spine, screaming, Mis
  hijos! Mis hijos!
on his way down”

This novel juxtaposes a tumultuous Zimbabwe against a well fed and   technologically advanced America as seen by a young and impressionable   Zimbabwean girl. Darling discovers that Zimbabwe and America are worlds with  two  very different passwords. What Zimbabwe does not have materially, America  offers  but not for free! Closely looked at, America offers its own kind of  turmoil to  those (like Darling) who do not want to be second class citizens and  who  constantly claim that they have somewhere ‘my country, my people, our  President,  our language’ and other things.

The vivid backlash or maybe the ‘cruelty’ of this story is  contained  in poor teenage - mother-Chipo’s words from Zimbabwe in a telephone  conversation  with Darling:

“Just tell me one thing. What are you doing not in your country  right  now? Why did you run off to America, Darling Nonkhululekho Nkala, huh?  Why did  you just leave? If it’s your country, you have to love it to live in it  and not  leave it. You have to fight for it no matter what, to make it right.  Tell me, do  you abandon your house because it’s burning or do you find water to  put out the  fire? And if you leave it burning, do you expect the flames to turn  into water  and put themselves out? You left it, Darling, my dear, you left the  house  burning and you have the guts to tell me, in that stupid accent that you were  not born with, that doesn’t even suit you, that this is your  country?”

Chipo’s analysis may have its own problems but this and other acute   questions raised by this novel, will mark it as one of the tightest rope  walking  narratives by a Zimbabwean. Zimbabweans, wherever they are today, will  find out  that this searing novel, begs the citizen’s position to the Zimbabwean  question.  The book is to be launched this May 2013 and the author is currently  based in  the US.

The first chapter to this novel, ‘Hitting Budapest’ won No Violet   Bulawayo the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing when it was presented as a   separate short story. Announcing Bulawayo as the winner of the £10,000 prize at   a celebratory dinner held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, the chair of judges   and award-winning author Hisham Matar said: “The language of Hitting Budapest   crackles. Here we encounter Darling, Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Stina and Sbho,  a  gang reminiscent of Clockwork Orange. But these are children, poor and  violated  and hungry. This is a story with moral power and weight, it has the  artistry to  refrain from moral commentary. NoViolet Bulawayo is a writer who  takes delight  in language.”
Why We Need New Names A Review by Okwudili Nebeolisa. 

The novel We Need New Names boldly begins with  the story of six children (Darling, Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Stina, and Sbho)  who are on their way to Budapest to steal guavas. One of them, Chipo, is  pregnant and usually hinders their walk to Budapest. Budapest, here, is pictured  as one of those suburbs these children see in movies, with magnificent houses that  have satellite dishes and trees full of fruits because their owners are not  interested in them. We are carried through the shack streets of Paradise to  Fambeki to Shanghai (where there’s a Chinese construction site) in the lives of  sharp-eyed kids. Darling, the narrator, dreams of leaving her Zimbabwe for  America, while the foul-mouthed Bastard dreams of leaving for South Africa.

 NoViolet carries us through communities with urging need of housing units,  schools, clinics, in the most humorous way you’ll not just center your thoughts   on a blurry and ‘shacky’ neighborhood with people incapable to aid themselves, while the Chinese are building ‘big big malls’ and ‘all nice shops’ where  people can find designer wears like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Versace, and so  on…

 Darling’s father has been off to South Africa, so  she has to live with her mother and grandmother (Mother of Bones) in a tin house in Paradise. Since her father no longer lives with them, there’s an unknown man  who comes when it is supposed that Darling is asleep and the candlelight is put  off and he and her mother leap unto the bed made of chicken and duck feathers,  ‘old pieces of clothes, and all sorts of things’. A man who is not concerned  about her, who is pretending to be  asleep.

 There are harrowing incidents seen through  the eyes of a guileless girl, like when the female children gather to abort  Chipo’s pregnancy because they feel it is hindering their normal lives and  afraid Chipo might die out of childbirth; there are stiffening incidents, like Darling’s  father returns with some sickness that her mother warns her not to tell anyone  because they have to watch him, cook for him, feed him, worry over him, and even change his clothes; funny ones like when their pastor, one Prophet Revelations Mborro says that he’ll need $500 and two white virgin goats for the their father’s healing. There’s the lurking urge of people who are most eager to leave their country for greener pastures. 

The book could as well be broken into two parts:  the first where Darling narrates incidents in Zimbabwe, and the second where she  lives with her Aunt Fostalina in America, who is her mother’s twin. This second  part begins with something like a sad poem of how people are leaving in droves  to far and near countries, and even countries whose names they can’t  spell,  the poem beginning like this: ‘Look at them leaving in droves, the children of  the land, just look at them leaving in droves…’ In America, Darling misses her  friends, hates snow, and only relishes when Aunt Fostalina’s friends from  Zimbabwe visit, so they can speak their language and cook home meals and listen  to  music from their country. It is evident that even with the homesickness and the bad  America weather, she’s losing touch with her friends back at Zimbabwe.

NoViolet Bulawayo is a Helen Oyeyemi with a distinctly African voice.

 But the book is not all perfect – I find that she’s pretty protecting of national images on the scene of America, yet trying to make it known that there are 419 email scammers from Nigeria, and of all  instances of madness mentioned in the novel, it is only men who are known to  suffer from it. There are also the questions of time-shifts I had problems with, like the case of the 9/11 Twin Tower bombing, which, in relation to the 2009 case  of Chris Brown beating his girlfriend Rihanna, is a too-far age for these children to be reminiscent of the former case.   

It  is a startlingly interesting book all through, a dazzling debut, not just all  about poverty in contemporary Zimbabwe, and migration, but it is a daring look into the question of identity…

Bio: Nebeolisa Okwudili is currently a student at Federal University of  Technology, Minna. His poems and short stories have been published in The Latin  Heritage Foundation world series, the New Black Magazine, The African Street  Writer, The Sun Newspapers, Blueprint Newspapers, and other national dailies. He  won third place at the 2012 Asian International Writing Competition in the  poetry category.
Elias Machemedze, described by Memory Chirere as "Zimbabwe's hottest rural writer", is pictured here reading from his latest novel, "Sarawoga".

Elias Machemedze, author of the novels; Sarawoga and Nherera Zvirange is an unassuming  lanky young fellow. However, he has a robust personal story which he tells
slowly and carefully. Machemedze’s life story stunned the gathering of writers  at the Zimbabwe Writers Association meeting in Harare on Saturday 2 March 2013.  

His  story is that of a rural based writer of our time who overturns the tables.
Before he was through with his O levels, out in rural Shamva of Zimbabwe, he had
already begun to work on the script of what was to become the novel, Sarawoga.
It was developed from a thin line story narrated to him by his father, Chisango

This  is an intriguing ‘old world’ story about Chief Nyasoro who raises a step son,
Sarawoga. In his youth, the cunning Sarawoga, tries in various ways to usurp
Nyasoro’s throne with the help of the newly arrived white settlers. His appetite
for power can only be equated with evil. As a result, the spirits of the land of
Chipindura intervene and Sarawoga is killed mysteriously. Done in impeccable
Shona language with no lapses, this novel reads like a rendition from another
time. This is work that no upstart village teenager could have written all by

But  Elias Machemedze’s elder brother could not have it! He could not tolerate a
younger brother who killed precious time scribbling and claiming to be a writer.
How can you claim to be a writer when you should be in school, he ranted at
Elias. You cannot afford to lose your way when I am still around, he promised.
In a fit of rage, he tore Elias’s whole script to pieces! Writers do not come
from the villages and the nook, he reasoned. In no time, the young Elias was
running for dear life.  

Not  to be outdone, Elias did not run far. He resorted to the bush and the nearby
Kakomo Kembada hill to brood and be ill for some time. Here, he would secretly
resuscitate and finish the Sarawoga script, far away from the prying eyes of his
elder brother. At every stage, Elias would however come down the hill and
surreptitiously show his work to his teacher at Zvomanyanga Secondary School,
one Enock Kalani. He got the much needed approval. He would then walk home and
pretend to be normal and yet, he was so inspired that it hurt!  

In  due course, the script was published into a novel by Priority Projects
Publishing in Harare in 2004. It later became a school set text, to be read and
studied across Zimbabwe. The life of a celebrity began for Elias Machemedze. The
village was stunned. Later, when Oliver Mtukudzi adopted Sarawoga into a feature
film that appeared on Zimbabwe television and even made a song based on it, the
villagers were speechless.

Elias  continued to till the lands and to herd cattle. He continued to write. Despite
his youth, he continued to accompany his father into the mountains and the
villages to consult the svikiros over various matters. Apparently, the
Machemedzes belong to the Chipadze chieftainships who are the original rulers of
the present day neighbourhood of Bindura. That is why Sarawoga has names of
rivers and hills in present day Bindura town. Because of the constant touch with
the spirit mediums and seers, Machemedze became familiar with various lore, far
beyond his age. In his works, the spirits of the land proselytise at length. In
his speeches and in ordinary conversation, Machemedze speaks like an oracle,
animated and definitive.

Machemedze’s  second novel is called Nherera Zvirange. It is another heartrending old world  story about a banished orphan who fights against all odds to reclaim his
father’s throne. Before that he falls in and out of trouble many times. He  leaves home to stay in the bush and troops are despatched in order to catch him.  Here are crude military strategies that keep the reader on the edge of the  precipice.

Elias  says when inspired, he writes very furiously, not caring about method.
Afterwards, he puts the papers aside for some time and goes fishing in Mukwari
or Gwetera rivers, returning only much later to perfect the script. Sometimes he
visits the locations on which his stories are set so that he remains in touch
with the space and time of his stories. Terrain means a lot to  Elias. 

He  is following closely in the footsteps of Patrick Chakaipa and Francis Mugugu who
wrote about the Shona people in the pre-colonial times. He says he enjoys
writing about power because that is maybe one of the oldest subjects around and
he is royal himself. He has numerous manuscripts that he will release sparingly
because, as he says, "It is getting to be too fast out there!"

With  the help of partners, Elias Machemedze is in the process of establishing his own
publishing company; Pangolin Publications. He hopes to work with and publish
young writers who are in circumstances as his. Here is an example of a writer
who writes from amongst the people about the people’s enduring traditions. He
says that whenever he meets his readers, they seem to wonder if he is the real
Elias Machemedze. He also wishes to get married and become settled one

Permissions: This article is published here with permission from Memory Chirere. It was originally published on his blog KwaChirere.
William  O’Daly  is a  poet,  translator, and fiction writer. His translations include eight books of  the  poetry of Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda (Still Another Day, The  eparate Rose, Winter  Garden, The Sea and the Bells, The Yellow Heart, The Book  of Questions, The  Hands of Day, and World’s End), all published with Copper  Canyon Press. Also  with Copper Canyon, he has published a chapbook of his  own  poems, The Whale in  the
Web. Mr.  O’Daly was a finalist for the 2006 Quill Award in Poetry and was  profiled  on
  NBC’s The Today  Show. He is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow.  O’Daly will be joined by  the Chilean  poet, Maria Elena   B.Mahler, who will read two of her
Spanish translations of  O’Daly’s poems and several poems of Pablo Neruda’s in  the original Spanish,  which O’Daly will then read in his English translation. 

Francisco  X.   Alarcón  is the author of eleven volumes of poetry.  His most  recent book of bilingual  poetry for children,
Animal  Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press  2008), was  selected as a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International
Reading  Association, and as an Américas Awards Commended Title by the
Consortium of  Latin American Studies Programs. Mr. Alarcon has been awarded the
2006 Jane  Addams Honor Book Award for his previous bilingual  book  titled
Poems to Dream  Together (Lee & Low Books  2005). He has been awarded the  1997, 2000 and 2002 Pura Belpré Honor award by  the American Library Association  and the National Parenting Publications Gold  Medal for his  acclaimed:  ”Magic  Cycle of the Seasons” series  published by Children’s Book Press of San  Francisco.

Benefit fundraiser reading  for C.O.R.E., $6
suggested donation.
July 30 at 7:30 PM
25th Street  SPC
Paco Marquez and Frank Graham
photo by the Chimanimani Arts Festival Trust
This annual celebration of the arts, filled with family fun, will run from August 10 to August 12, 2012. As the name implies, it takes place in the most beautiful place on earth, Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, near the Mozambique border. The domineering Chimanimani ranges in the east of the location of the festival is a fantastic backdrop of artistic celebration.

Activities will include theatre, music, arts and crafts.
It's that time again in Harare, when writers, artists, booksellers, publishers, readers and all those interested converge on Harare for the Zimbabwe International Book Fair. This year's Book Fair runs from July 30 through August 4. Themed "African Literature in the Digital Era", this book fair promises to be an enriching experience for visitors, vendors and all other participants. It's definitely something to attend!