A feast at the House of Hunger

The House of Hunger Poetry Slam is one of the platforms that made a significant contribution to the development of local poetry in modern times.

Started in the early 2000s by Pamberi Trust, it is Zimbabwe’s longest running poetry fest, providing a springboard for word-smiths like Ticha Muzavazi, Godobori, Batsirai Chigama, SoProfound and Madzitateguru to name just a few.

There really is no space for expression of poetry in Zimbabwe, and many such movements have become extinct soon after birth.

House of Hunger almost suffered the same fate after the closure of Harare’s Book Café, a venue that always opened its arms to orature.

Having been off the radar since 2015, Pamberi Trust brought it back the slam — named after the title of one of Dambudzo Marechera’s most read and least understood books — early this year, and recent months have seen momentum building.

The sixth edition since relaunch was expected to be held yesterday at On the Roof at Travel Plaza, Harare, with SoProfound the guest poet.

In an interview last week, Peter Churu of Pamberi Trust said their aim was to keep the spoken word alive.

“House of Hunger has played a big part in promoting local poetry and this is the reason why we had to revive it and despite all the challenges we are facing, we just have to keep on pushing.

“Since the closure of Book Café, the major challenge has been finding a venue where there is regular interaction of poets which in turn stimulates creativity,” said Churu.

The poetry slam has lately been hosted at various venues in the capital as Pamberi Trust is yet to find a permanent home for it. Despite becoming literary nomads, the poetry community has embraced the drive to give House of Hunger new life.

“The momentum has been growing and we have seen plenty of new talent coming through to take part. Established acts are now just coming in as guests as we want to give more emphasis on the upcoming artistes,” Churu said.

“There are several other projects we are working on that are offshoots of House of Hunger; for example, the establishment of poetry clubs in learning institutions. We also want to decentralise so that we will not only be having these poetry slams in Harare and Bulawayo alone but other cities and small towns should have similar events.”

SoProfound, who rose to prominence through this platform, was full of praises for Pamberi Trust for bringing the poetry slam back.

“The return of the House of Hunger Poetry Slam represents the rebirth of not just a platform but the movement of an art form which was slowly dying because of minimal platforms,” said SoProfound.

“This is where I started my career because others had built it to be the platform it was and being called to headline this month’s edition was such an honour because it was a reminder of how long we have come and how much we have progressed.”

He stressed the need to create more platforms to promote poetry.

“House of Hunger is a brilliant concept for development but there is a need to create alternate platforms that are not of the slam format to support it so that many forms of poetry can exist and feed into it.

“We have a lot of new voices coming through but we need to start making content for the digital space, which is where the world is at the moment.”

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