Wordview 2021: Death and Dreaming in my Language

Last night, I dreamt I held my brother to my chest.

An army of uniforms threw their batons into the air

and onto the body of a man I could not recognise.

What I recognised was the city, its commonplaceness,

the prophetic colour of the clouds and their promise

of something dire. Strange as dreams are,

Harare is unambiguous.

 

In my dream, my brother was a boy of three or four,

body a lump in the dip of my breast, body like pupa,

a metronome, laying close, leaning towards something

other than death. I’ve never watched someone kill a man

but at night, the happening came seeping through my door

and into my bed. It wasn’t the first time I dreamt

of my brother as my own child.

 

In my language, the dead are welcomed into the home.

But the word for home is also the word for sing, so maybe

invited into a song, to begin and end somewhere foreseeable,

to be interpreted by dreams, to give diagnosis to ailment, to clean

up a scrapyard of men from the streets. Maybe home is a dirge

invoked by dreaming, an elegy for those we can’t afford to lose.

Poem recorded as part of Poetry Archive Now: Wordview 2021. Used by permission of author.

Wordview 2021 Winners

Poetry Archive Now! was established in 2020 to enable us to gather recordings from a much wider pool of talented poets from the UK and ...

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Tanatsei Gambura

Tanatsei Gambura (she/they) is a poet, artist and cultural practitioner working translocally. In both artistic and curatorial capacities, her work is foregrounded by creating socially-engaged experiences that foster participation and exchange. Describing her practice as ancestral, Tanatsei petitions her familial and artistic predecessors, invoking lineages, archives, and intertextuality as inheritances in her work.

Tanatsei is the author of Things I Have Forgotten Before, the poetry pamphlet announced by Poetry Book Society as the autumn choice of 2021. In 2020, she was announced as the runner-up to the inaugural Amsterdam Open Book Prize (Versal Journal) and was longlisted by the Rebecca Swift Foundation for the Women Poets' Prize. Her work has appeared in Poetry London, Prufrock Magazine, and New Coin Poetry Journal, among others. She is an alumnus of the British Council residency, "These Images are Stories" and is an inaugural fellow of the Obsidian Foundation.

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A special thank you to our WordView 2021 poets.

Chair of the Judging Panel, Imtiaz Dharker, says: "An idea that began as a response to the world shutting down has, joyfully, become a way to invite the whole world in. It has been exciting to see the entries come in from different countries, from marginalised voices, from people of all backgrounds who now know this space belongs to them. My fellow judges and I were struck by the immediacy of experience and commitment to language in the winning entries. It's also good to think that the rest of the entries will continue to be seen as an invaluable record of our times."

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