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Categories: 21st Century, African, BAME
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (99 pages)
(Pub. Aug 2021)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Aug 2021)
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A Poetry Book Society Autumn 2021 Recommendation
An Irish Times Best Poetry Books of 2021
Virga is the third book of poems by Zimbabwean poet Togara Muzanenhamo, following on from his acclaimed collections Spirit Brides (2006) and Gumiguru (2014).
Set in the twentieth century, Virga features historical events woven together by the weather. From the spiritual silence of a sundog during the 1911 Japanese Antarctic Expedition, to the 1921 World Championship chess matches in the Cuban heat, to the final hours of a young Bavarian mountaineer in the Bernese Alps in 1936 and strange white clouds decimating whole villages in northern Cameroon in 1986 – the poems capture stories of a rapidly evolving century beneath an ancient, fragile sky.
The title relates to the meteorological phenomenon in which a column, shaft or band of rain or snow is seen falling from a cloud but never reaching the earth – evaporating before touchdown. Like Gumiguru, which has so much to do with weather, Virga continues with it, its impact on our daily lives. But, here, his geography broadens out to include wider worlds and different histories artfully strung together by the poet's fascination with the elements.
Togara Muzanenhamo was shortlisted for the Jerwood Alderburgh First Collection Prize and the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry.
Awards won by Togara Muzanenhamo Commended, 2021 Poetry Book Society Autumn Recommendation (Virga) Runner-up, 2015 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry (Gumiguru)
'Follows various weathers and global histories, speaking through a staggering variety of experiences'
Seán Hewitt, Irish Times Best Books of the Year 2021
'Muzanenhamo wears his erudition and research with ease, finding the cracks of light in historical documents and prising them open... There is an energetic tightness to Muzanenhamo's verse that can be turned to both the disturbing and the musical. He is always conscious of the revelatory capacity of syntactical compactness, creating a poetry that is both rooted in the earth and invested in the possibility of metaphysics.'
Sean Hewitt, The Irish Times
Praise for Togara Muzanenhamo 'Togara Muzanenhamo's second collection, named for the hot and dry tenth month of the Shona calendar, is a harsh but heartfelt tribute to the people and landscapes of the author's native Zimbabwe [...] this poet has a rare gift and should be admired for the risks he takes, which have enabled him to write some unusual, moving and yet understated poems about conflict, love and work'
Times Literary Supplement, 16.10.2015.
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