Tendai Rinos Mwanaka

Tendai Rinos Mwanaka


 Published books include, Experimental Writing: Africa Vs Latin America Anthology, Volume 1 (African and Latin America writers in English and Spanish anthology, coeditor);  Zimbabwe: The Urgency of Now (creative nonfiction book), Finding a Way Home (stories novel), Revolution (poetry book), Democracy, Good Governance, and Development in Africa (scholarly essays, co-editor), Best New African Poets 2015 Anthology (African poetry in  French, English, and Portuguese, co editor),Keys in the River (stories novel), Voices from Exile (poetry book), Zimbabwe: The Blame Game (creative nonfiction book), Zimbolicious poetry (Zimbabwean poets anthology, co editor), Pearls of awareness (poetry book), Playing to love’s gallery ( poetry book), Best New African Poets 2016 Anthology (African poetry in  French, English, Portuguese and several indigenous African languages, coeditor).Upcoming books include among others, Zimbolicious poetry 2016 Anthology (Zimbabwean poets anthology, co editor), Writing on Language, Culture and Development, Volume 1 Africa Vs Asia (an anthology of African and Asian writers in English, Chinese, Kiswahili, Hindi, Bengali and several Africa and Asian Languages)…. I work hard to promote African writing as attested by the valuable and important anthologies I have curated and co edited. I have been shortlisted and won several writing awards, among others; shortlisted for a record 7 times by the UK based Erbacce poetry award, 3 times nominated for the Pushcart, nominated for The Caine African Writing workshop 2012… I am also an avid published and exhibited visual artist (photography, painting, drawing, installation, collage, video.), upcoming exhibitions include among others, Alice Art Gallery Johannesburg, April 2017, Le Corridor Gallery, Harare, May 2017, a sound/musical artist using mostly traditional instrumentations like the Zimbabwean mbira instrument. I am also a mentor, translator, scholar, theorist, reviewer, editor, critic… Work has been published in over 400 journals in over 27 countries, translated into French, Germany and Spanish.




Fighting on the shores of; the soul, memories, Beingness

Trying to escape angular poverty; empty books, brooks, shelves, she lives in

In subordination levels, hammering into the soul, such soul sinking oppression

The poet in her, she stinks to the moon and back

Floating her dreams in the vast deep

At her own beck and call


Poetry being her only religion, playing a dirge, the dirge a sacrament

More than wine changed into water or water into wine

Or the fish swallows Jonah, Jonah swallows the fish

It’s a jungle of minds, her insides

Walking dead on streets, empty streets too real for dreaming


Her eyes can see nothing anymore, only the wind

Unhurricaned wind, wild

The “too” soon of tearing, the wind parting the drapes of her mind

The wind, air’s chthonic suction, plenary in volume, in voice

Black, tickling leaves, muslin


She is a life painted by chaos

Her future is painted in a lead colour

Painting asking for a second, seconding, opinion

Screaming in the storm

Like lost beauty, the beauty she had, screaming

Bottles and pills, screaming for freedom from her


Her brain matter is suffocating the space within the walls

In the prisons of her mind

Heartache flows inside her, beaten thick with despair

So sweet the despair, so good like stolen food would taste

Drowned in the depths of a cesspool

That she has created, liturgical lock nobody will unlock for her

This ocean of despair is all too consuming


It’s kind of a zone

Blood zone, life zone, knowledge zone, grinding zone

Danger zone, separate zones, gaps sewed together

With strings zones

Life’s pendulum swinging between the two zones

Life and death’s zones


Death, to be stoned, it’s a charming death for her

Let the poet in her be stoned, she tells them, in her acidic liturgy

The needle is always too closer to my eyes

And my mind is frozen, soaked in fearful, tearful memories

I am a mind-damaged casualty

Recollections only, of feelings

As I journey into the blended earth.





As present as memory

Water is our lifeline

Like memory,

It doesn’t care for borders, boundaries.

The highest precision for wings,

It is everywhere


Water is spiritual

The silence of our ritual departing

I hear the call for water

I hear the call inside me

Water is who we are


We can live without food

Jesus, Moses, John The Baptist, in the desert

The daily bread was beyond their breakfasts

Trust me, we can tell this, or not

We can live without a lot of things

But some truths are ours alone

We cannot live without water


Water is why, when-

The grass wears its skirts of dew

A bionic vision of loving

That binds the natural world of life


In it everything crackles, gleams, shimmers,

Hums, explodes with life like a ghetto street

Water in her veins, nourishing

Our first Mother, Earth

Grows her plants healthily


Life goes in a circle

Water connects the circles

Rest is not rest- it is urgency

Water teaches us about change

Re-imagines the world through dreams

A struggle with eternal death

And of different seasons


Water in a mother’s womb

Her aims are helpful and compassionate

She is here. She is life

That bag of water that

Overlooks the marketplace of human life

Protects, nourishes, starts it all

Right there, accessible to all


Water that comes from the sky

Water that comes from the river, streams, lakes

Water that comes from underground, oceans

Water that comes from the eyes

Water that comes from the breasts

Water that comes in blood, in sweat, in wet

Water that cleanses, nourishes, grows


Care for this water

Speak for this water

Pray for this water

Dance for this water

Bless for this water

Sing for this water

Talk for this water

Teach for this water

Cry for this water


Don’t put this in the “maybe” file

Put this in the “save” file

Don’t let half of the “save” file

Become “miscellaneous bin” in the garage of your soul

Listen to this fateful rap on the door of our undoing

Oh, we can say we were (are) sorry

But that future never takes it back to now.

There is You


There is where your eyes must be

There is that moment of meeting

There is a world of possibilities

There is where you have to start

There is where looking has to begin

There is a point, a place, a moment

There is you. You are there

Do you see it?


have we sounded the gong to announce our presence?

congratulations and decorations, at once!

boys and girls, please intake this phenomena

a thing in a thing, ladies and gentlemen-

it’s something left unsaid, a thought still in the head

in and of itself


what we have seen is what the world acquires

from the strangeness of the way we see

have seen, what we have heard, hear-

mere echoes of ourselves, of others

sometimes, we speak: echoes, speech

so pure, almost unrecognizable, indecipherable,

and it’s what we must wish for, for

no clutter, stripped bare, pure,

original, unswayable, colours

itself directly echoing in us


You are a moment, a place, a point

You are pointing us to you

You are full of possibilities

You meet yourself, you must be you

There is you. It is you.

Do you see it?


the worse part about looking at it for long

like looking at your chin whilst shaving it

is having to look at your face for far too long

staring at what has forgotten you

staring at the sight of lost breeze


that which is observed is a very wily,

mischievous, ruthless, insane, seer, seen (sin)

made up of eyes angling inwards (in)

willfully it produces the light by which it sees

everything that it does, says, thinks, feels

impacts, shapes, its soul

dents its world by, in, itself


it’s hard not to see the water

when looking at a fully flooded river

the river listening, seeing itself, flowing away

let the water’s voice lead the river

and some days the river is enough

some days the river knows our names

and calls us.




Constructing a meeting with her

She weaves an appearance

Allowing the impossibility to enter

South winds of desire rising

Ready to snuggle in cotton candy dreams


She kisses you: brown lips

Dark honey, the sweet lips

Dripped in spit like a newborn thing

Her tongue pushing in, bequeathing

Assaulting each other with love

Your heart is caught on her lips


Your cold, ideal slowly melting

Under her hot particulars

While the moon-red, soft

Inevitable, sizzles around you

It is a full moon rolling down

The stairs, like a heavenly

Body, gliding, crashing onto

The earth, the light, the weight

Of its heat pressing layers

Of your flesh down.


A deeply planted splendour

Burns beneath your breast

You are a teenager bursting

Into his surprising body,

Headlong and you, alive to the light

Telling you of steps to be taken


When the kissing consumes you

You face each other

With vengeance, ripped

Each other’s clothes, rolled

Around in the dirty

And make love like animals


So she is born, and you watch

Born of men, born in need

In lust that is in love

You are her world, she is yours

You have a partner for anything

Competition, copulation

Cooperation, conversation?


Night Carrying Night


The curved sun of the night lounges

On the floor of heaven, in its western skirts

This sun that no longer shines

On all four corners of the earth

As night comes for a visit

Night carrying night in its brooding wings


There is exuberant growth of confused images all around me

Crackling geometric shapes, shaping up in the skies

Many more images obscure my lines of seeing

I delude myself more as I move into this delusion

This hidden world which I inhabit

Is invisible to those who are not a part of it

So, how good is good, what good is good, what a lie!

Complex things are always out in the open

And it’s only what’s simple that is always hidden, what a lie, again.


But every night my cricket visits me

Sings for me for several hours

Sad pretty music that sings with the dark

Music whispering in sign language into my soul

A tale of choices, of reflections, of faces, of coincidences

It’s not so lonely, a story!


This night comes to me as one big continuous strand of night,

A waking world, the executioner of green thoughts

A magnetic field of wishful thinking

My thoughts escapes from me in the dark night skies

In little grey, greyish, darkish pieces,

I know I will never be able to change them back to green


There is memory of a man drinking

From the white basin where the sun prays,

Pays its respect, if he prays, tonight,

He prays that someone gives a soul

To cages that binds him in fear

That he would learn how to unlearn fear


He is in a room of things to lose

Outside stood fields of paths to chose

Ballsy as the blackbirds, but a pure sham,

An owl hoots its feathered fear,

Only darkness is its full stop

Whilst a foghorn booms bright light

In the dark night’s mind, ruinous light


And a moon waltzing to the music of the blowing trees comes

The Zimbabwean moon is a waning smile, sky shy,

Singed against the velvet of the eastern skirts

Waxen and dermal is this moon’s light

The moon spills and pours white light

On my sour night through the windows


This moon draws forth a wild mineral gleam on the windows

Holly with moon glow, with moonlight,

So charming, worth of magnetic truths

This moon houses the dead; I can see Michael Jackson’s

Worn out, crackling face= faces

The moon whose pieces are my heart,

The past lost, the past falling back down


Pellucid in some luminescent candling

Some stars are floating in the mist of my thoughts, of a past life

Eyelids opened are stars, as the face of God, laughing mischievously

Warping net of omnipotent laughter

He is near crying, he is near laughing


Telling me of a hope that pricks my fingers and bleeds and bleeds and bleeds

Even the most peeping sun will know that this sky is exhausted

Even the flight of a bat from the exhausted heat of the moon

As the moon licks the western skirts of the sky, half swallowed

I can’t make this moon whole again. Sew it back together!


It’s now at 2 AM, frogs confers on genius

Night falling away in embrace of dawn’s yoke

I have my sure footed truth of

How I could only learn through my fears

As the years have, I feel more and more

Like an old man apologizing for stains left behind.

And I know I am getting too old to die young!



Book covers and links

Experimental Writing, Africa Vs Latin America, Volume1



Best New African Poets 2016 Anthology



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