Many a times we spend our time thinking how to find happiness. No one has ever bothered to think of the beauty found in sadness (if there is any). Tanaka Chidora the poet assigned poetry lovers some home work to do through his debut poetry anthology Because Sadness is Beautiful?. The title which in my reading of it is a question left me pondering how could one even think if there is beauty in sadness.
Upon reading the anthology and rereading some of the poems I realized sadness has the potential of being wonderful bricks of sweetness if condensed in words the way Chidora the poet did in this collection.
What caught my eye and soul even up to now is the endless interference of the past in the now. The first two lines that I read as an untitled poem, hooked me in to the book and left me looking forward to the rest of the collection. The lines read ‘there is a country whose main pre-occupation// is to allocate sadness to its people’.
The lines left me wondering where the country is and how the citizens are utilising their slices of sadness? Maybe the following poems provide answers, maybe the pose more questions.
‘forgotten doubles’ shows the past’s presence from a different dimension. This time the past is not only enjoying itself at the same space. The persona is worried of the past who which can grow wings to fly and repeat itself in a different land. ‘forgotten doubles’is therefore a letter ‘to Sudan from a Zimbabwean’. The Zimbabwean is warning Sudan that
Bothered by the ‘ugly underbelly of the new’ the persona in the poem the ‘opening lines’ in remarkable fashion followed the nameless narrator of Marechera in The House of Hunger’s classic act of packing things to leave. The persona’s leaving in this poetry is remarkable because it couldn’t happen ‘before pissing on freedom’s cleft’. The coming of freedom and her aging failed to stop the idea of leaving post 2017 when the ‘new dispersion’ came riding on the ‘new dispensation’ myth.
Interestingly where the past seems like it’s not interfering with the present, the changes happening are not bringing any joy to the common man and woman,. For instance in ‘sounds’ where the poet used his keen eye to see through everyday life used the sounds of drums, grazing cattle, crow, children versus the sounds of gunshots, wailing mother, dusty storm, angry snake, running feet, gun butts connecting skull and tired sighs to give the contrasts of the then happy times and the now sad times to give a chilling effect to the reader.
Chidora shows that sadness’ rubbles can be used to capture human experience. The residue can be used to create poetry which we can use to reflect on the richness and nothingness of existence at a time when the emperor is no longer ashamed to display his anus. Filth is part of the aesthetics of this anthology as found in pieces such as ‘open defecation’. The beauty is reflected in the author’s communique with memories of the rural and the urban, the country’s failed dream versus the will to leave, of the literary heroes (and war veterans) who traversed the Zimbabwean terrain and even the world at large.
Because Sadness is Beautiful? captures the human condition. The poems leave the reader on reflective mode trying to make or unmake sense of his or her socioeconomic and sociopolitical environment versus their individual and collective dreams and aspirations
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