Sunday, July 23, 2006

He asked for intellectual rigour and receives rigor mortis.

Two statements from Poetry International Web.

Reading Marechera, you may not be way off the mark if you consider Marechera’s poetry a form of mental banditry…Marechera skipped on to the scene lightly wearing the cloak of individual experience, which he can toss over his shoulder like a prince.
Chikwave (Caine Prize winner for African Literature, 2004).

His autobiographical poems are very conventional in their use of allusion, reference, vocabulary, and poetic form, though they often strive to attribute significant meaning to every mundane action and utterance… He also uses conventional poetic diction, and has a particular fondness for abstractions reminiscent of the English romantics. His importance does not lie in the revitalising of the poetic idiom but in… his articulate energy
Muchewna. (Zimbabwean Open University, 2006).

Have I got the wrong poet?

1) mental banditry? Exactly the wrong phrase: banditry=to band together. It suggests social pillaging and a binding of thoughts.
2) skipped…lightly…to the scene? He did not do the “scene” and there is nothing “light” about him.
3) cloak of individual experience: cloak=covering. If he is difficult, it is because he refuses to dress up in experience and believes in nakedness.
4) like a prince? Only in the sense that King of the Road can be a euphemism for bum. He was a social outcast, born in a township, lived in UK slums, died on Harare’s streets.
5) convential? I have spent my life being forced to read convential poetry of the English tradition, it’s nothing like Marechera.
6) strive to attribute significant meaning? But his poems are not about attribution, assigning thoughts in some easy manner.
7) abstractions reminiscent? Marechera uses abstraction that are human thought. They are not reminiscent of anything. They are thinking. (Why do we fear the abstract?) This is not evidence of a Romantic sensibility.
8) articulate energy? That couldn’t be more wrong. Davie, whose phrase this is, saw syntax as the joined ribs of feeling (and got this, in part, from a mis-reading of Langer’s early Philosophy in a New Key). Articulate energy became the base for the restrained Movement poets. Marachera, however, is no hymner of syntax. Syntax is not the energy: that's where he puts the explosives.
Where is the poet of the cemented buildings of the world's cities who lived the Cemetery of Mind?


Unsane said...

Are they criticising his non-conservativism?

eshuneutics said...

Chikwave seems to be an adorer of M, just comes at him at the wrong angle? Muchewna clearly wishes to disparage him--as an English poet--and make the most ludicrous claims, comparing him with Eliot and Hardy, and his comparison with Okigbo/the African is two-faced!