Review of Blind Moon - Pambazuka

Blind Moon on Pambazuka
Chenjerai Hove

A new collection of evocative and defiant poetry from one of Zimbabwe's leading literary and political writers. The poems reflect on the plight of the individual citizen and the state of Zimbabwe, the poet's birthplace and spiritual home. They convey empathy for those who suffer anonymous deaths at the expense of tyrannical power, and yearning for a more peaceful world and spirit of common destiny; their intention being
in his words ' to persuade the heart and the soul and human body to be together and to gently cry out to the world'.

Review of Blind Moon - World Literature Today

Blind Moon
Chenjerai Hove
2003: (pp: 60) 190 x 115 mm
ISBN: 1779220197

World Literature Today (79, 1)
January–April 2005

Reviewer: James Gibbs

When Chenjerai Hove’s first collection of poetry appeared in 1982, newly independent Zimbabwe was deeply wounded and buoyantly optimistic. In the troubled intervening years, Hove has published novels, short stories, essays, and poems in which he has found an individual voice. Now he is simultaneously a central figure in Zimbabwean letters and a wanderer: he has been a writer-in-residence at the University of Zimbabwe and, at the time of the preparation of Blind Moon, was living in France.

Hove believes in the power of words and explains his faith by reference to his Shona background. In the justification for poetry that prefaces his 2005 collection of nearly fifty poems, he writes:

‘The world is the leaf that is floating in the wind next to me. The task of the poet is to tell the story of how that leaf is floating in the sky with his or her heart also.’

In his poem entitled ‘Hope’, the poet, who confesses to boyhood drams of flight, thinks of a leaf ‘floating, floating, floating / in the wind / not falling’. Just why the leaf defies gravity is not explained, but it may be held up by the poet’s conviction, his heart. However, in all this somewhat etiolated talk, Hove does not close his eyes to facts. This is illustrated by ‘Search’, where he writes bleakly: ‘After the search / there is nothing / except the coffin / and a dying homestead’.

From the lines quoted, Hove’s concern with the power of words, acquaintance with suffering, and his interest in nature imagery are apparent, as is his somewhat affected suspicion of capital letters. One may also detect elements of song and become aware of fiercely controlled and spare diction.

Hove’s sojourn in Europe has produced distinctive tensions. He is living among those who, he maintains, are blind to outrages and put procedures before action. In this situation, the poet becomes inquisitor and demands: ‘What were you doing / when civil war reigns / when spears are sharpened / when guns run the household / in the hands of the rulers?’ Hove clearly remains passionate, and, on occasion, the passion is fused with the controlled, assured, prophetic voice of the poet. Near the end of the collection, it is a poet-prophet who points to the ‘footpath of illegitimacy’ where the tread is ‘to the tune / of praise singers / flatterers / charlatans’.

The high production values of the best Zimbabwean publishers are clearly evident in this attractive volume. This volume demonstrates that brave Zimbabwean writers are finding defiant support at home in their wars of words and ideas, their tussles with praise-singers, flatterers, charlatans, and gun-wielding dictators who leave homesteads dying.

© The author/publisher

Review of Blind Moon- Fanuel Jongwe

Blind Moon
Chenjerai Hove
60 pp
ISBN: 1 77922 019 7

Review from The Standard
September 24, 2004
Reviewer: Fanuel Jongwe

For readers in Zimbabwe, this collection marks the return – not in flesh, sadly – of one of the country’s most prolific writers, Chenjerai Hove, who went into self-imposed exile two years ago.

Read more ...

Review of Blind Moon - The Standard

Blind Moon
Chenjerai Hove
2003: (pp: 60) 190 x 115 mm
ISBN: 1779220197

The Standard
24 September 2004

Reviewer: Fanuel Jongwe

Chenjerai Hove returns

For readers in Zimbabwe, this collection marks the return – not in the flesh, sadly – of one of the country’s most prolific writers, Chenjerai Hove, who went into self-imposed exile two years ago.

Hove, who is now based in France, was among thousands who fled Zimbabwe at the height of political tensions and economic uncertainties that have gripped the country during the past four years, to seek asylum in the UK, the US, Australia and neighbouring South Africa and Botswana. He expressed fears about his safety in Zimbabwe during an interview in August 2002, where he said pro-Zanu(PF) militants were the law unto themselves and one’s safety was not guaranteed if one did not belong to the 'right' political group.

The Noma award-winning novelist-cum-poet-cum-media freedom activist-cum-cultural consultant and former Standard columnist packed his bags to join his fleeing compatriots following a freak burglary at his Harare home, in which he allegedly lost several computer diskettes and various works-in-progress that he had stored in his PC.

Blind Moon follows on the heels of Palaver Finish, an anthology of hard-hitting essays on the degenerating socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe. It was originally published as opinion pieces in Hove’s weekly column in The Standard.

The title poem is about a moon that Hove says is 'doomed to see all these corpses' and 'all these shadows of political corpses'. He says it is better for the blind moon to remain unsighted than being able to see the various iniquities that have blighted the political landscape.

In the poem 'What are you doing?' Hove poses a challenge to latter-day Neros who 'sit in palaces/debating stale possibilities / and futile scenarios' or smile 'drinking good German wine / debating outcomes already there' while every hill harbours a political corpse / when the teachers bare buttocks / are exposed in front of the school parade/ when the lady teacher is raped / in front of the children she teaches.'

In one of the longest poems in the collection, 'Trail', the poet condemns the culture of politically motivated violence where human life is devalued and defenceless, people sacrificed for the sake of political power. The poem is addressed to politicians who leave a trail of broken hearts, broken bricks, orphans, widows, unsmiling faces and nameless graves on their way 'to the house of power'.

The collection is not all gloom and sombreness. In the typical African tradition of laughing in order not to cry, Hove pokes fun at his fellow writer and close friend Charles Mungoshi, whom he says 'now has a missing tooth' and 'smiles only on special occasions' and hides his shaven head under a cap.

Hove expresses his sympathy for those who suffer at the hands of tyrannical power and yearns for a more peaceful, gentle and loving world, where all live in harmony.

© The author/publisher

Review of Blind Moon - Fahamu

Blind Moon
Chenjerai Hove
2003: (pp: 60) 190 x 115 mm
ISBN: 1779220197

Fahamu (27) (
Reviewer: Patrick Burnett

Chenjerai Hove used to dream of flying so much that his father even considered sending him to a traditional healer so that he could be cured of the ailment. He refused, telling his father: ‘Why should I not dream like that? It is so beautiful to fly.’

Hove writes in the introduction to the extraordinary collection of poems contained in Blind Moon: ‘the borders of human geography are broken only when poetry speaks. and poetry speaks not only about landscapes, but about peoplescapes, the human body and its aspirations to be someone else. the human soul and its dreams be all the souls of animals and birds and the winds and the skies. life is like that. and life is poetry.’

Blind Moon is extraordinary because it seeks to fulfil the ambition of life as poetry; poetry as life. Given Hove's dreams of flight, it is no surprise that much of the poetry contains allusions to flying, although the immediate temptation to associate this with escape would be wrong. Perhaps it is just beautiful to fly, to give expression to the soul that is deep within each of us and yearns to be released into the space that is the sky, to take off and soar, not as a way to leave our daily lives but as a way to fulfil our own individual potentials. It is sometimes helpful when reading the poetry to imagine yourself ‘flying with outstretched wings’ along with Hove through a universe of human experience.

This is not to say that the poetry is always uplifting or lost in a Wordsworthian consciousness of babbling brooks and fields of daffodils. There is a sadness and contained fury in much of the poetry, born out of the situation in Hove's birthplace and nation, Zimbabwe. It is clear that to fly does not mean separating the individual from the land, from the politics of daily life, although politics of a tyrannical nature is seen more as a restriction to human potential – a restriction to flight – than something which helps to lift the human spirit.

Hove feels the anguish of Zimbabwe acutely and gives voice to it throughout this collection, sometimes in haunting and evocative style, as in ‘there is a painful piece of land inside me / a pain without a name, inside me.’ Nor is Hove afraid to direct his anger. He writes, ‘on your way to the house of power / you refused to listen / to the tunes of the birds / the birds of your conscience.’ Sometimes poetry that dabbles with the political risks being reduced to diatribe. But the strength of Hove's poetry is that it does not fall into this trap: it is firmly located in the broader context of human suffering and experience, and because it touches emotions on this level it is all the more stronger, all the more representative of the general human condition.

Apart from the mastery Hove demonstrates over his lines and the skilful and innovative way in which he makes the language work for him, the wonderful experience about this volume is that it is a mere 60 pages long. Yet read as a whole it is rich in touching a range of human experiences and emotions, seeming to move effortlessly between earth and sky, love and death. It is angry and sad, but it is not bitter. In Hove's world there is still hope, there is still love, there is still emotion. There is potential for a better world where the human soul can be released to fly like a bird.

Hove was born in Mazvihwa communal lands in southern Zimbabwe, near the mining town of Zvishavane. He is best known for Bones, which won the Zimbabwe Literary Prize in 1998, and the 1989 Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. Other published works include Masimba Avanhu? (1986), Shadows (1991), and Ancestors (1994). He has travelled extensively throughout Africa, Europe and the United States on lecture tours and his books have been translated into several languages, including French, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch and Danish.

© The author/publisher