‘Both feared and loved, an enigma to most’: Zimbabwean Spoken Word and Video Poetry between Radicalisation and Disillusionment

Thumbnail Image
de Haas, Ricarda
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Rights Holder
The ubiquitous use of digital technologies has influenced contemporary African literature, especially with regards to the younger generation of urban poets. Events are posted on the Internet, and many authors use the communication tools offered by social media to create literary networks (e.g. Facebook). Contemporary Spoken Word performances can be seen as artistic practices that merge old media such as live performances or printed texts with new media such as video recordings or social media tools. By focussing on two poems by Harare-based poet Synik my paper describes how Zimbabwean poets of the Born-free generation use digital technology to re-imagine the revolutionary impact of Zimbabwe's artistic tradition of dissident criticism. Furthermore, it aims at analysing how video technology and social media enable artists to re-create the immediacy of live performances within the virtual sphere. My paper also reflects on the meaning of the venue as a space of performance: The monthly event House of Hunger Poetry Slam, for example, took place at the Book-Café, Harare, which until its forced closure in 2015 has been a long-established venue for a multitude of cultural activities. Insofar, space can be seen as the site of performance as well as the space inhabited by a certain community. As mediatized interaction between artists may also be realised in the virtual space, which is both local and global, space gets de-localised and enables artists to create an (imagined) co-presence in time and space
Dissident literature, Social media, Video poetry, Zimbabwean poetry