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Julius Chingono
(Zimbabwe, 1946–2011)   
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Julius  Chingono

Julius Chingono's poetry has been published in several anthologies of Shona poetry such as Nhetembo, Mabvumira eNhetembo and Gwenyambira between 1968 and 1980. His only novel, Chipo Changu, was published in 1978 and an award-winning play, Ruvimbo, was published in 1980. His first collection of short stories in English, Not Another Day, was published in 2006, and his stories were included in the anthologies Writing Still, Writing Now and Laughing Now.

His poetry in English has also been published in several South African and Zimbabwean anthologies: Flags of Love (Mireza yerudo) was published by Gazebo books in 1983; Flag of Rags was published by Quartz Press 1996.

However, as Lionel Abrahams states in the introduction to Flag of Rags, "Why Julius Chingono has not long ago become famous in his own country is a circumstance I do not understand. He is a poet of Zimbabwe, saturated with strong feelings about that society and its predicaments, but whose distinctive voice I, a stranger, find persuasive and powerfully moving."

Born in 1946, Chingono was the son of a farmworker, and worked for most of his life as a blaster on the mines. Made redundant in 1999, he worked intermittently as a rock-blasting contractor, the difficulties of which are laconically alluded to in his December 2001 diary, published on PIW.

His often deceptively simple poetry was written with compassion and clarity, feeling deeply as he did for the hardships of the poor and marginalised, while his honesty, humour and ironic eye made him a sharp and witty observer of those who abused their station through corruption and hypocrisy.

Much of his poetry has also been published on PIW, and he featured in the 2009 edition of The Warwick Review. He was guest poet at festivals in Rotterdam (Poetry International: 2004), Durban (Time of the Writer: 2006) and Tel Aviv (Sha'ar International Poetry Festival: 2008).

© Jabik Veenbaas

Julius Chingono was a guest the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2004. This text was written for that occasion.

Publications:
Chipo Changu (1978); Ruvimbo (1980); Mireza yerudo / Flags of Love (1983); Flag of Rags (1996).

 




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