FlowChyld, known to her parents as Cynthia Marangwanda, identifies herself as a feminist and creative activist and has become the darling of spoken word stages with her confident, well-thought out and insightful poetry.
She was selected by Pamberi Trust out of a slew of other talented poets to perform at the festival.
An ecstatic Cynthia could not hide her excitement when asked how she received the news that the House of Hunger Poetry Slam, a project by Pamberi Trust had singled her out to represent Zimbabwe at The Poetry International Festival. “When I was told I would be attending the Poetry International Festival I was so shocked I literally burst into tears!”
The Poetry International Festival was first held in 1970 and has grown to become one of the most authoritative poetry festivals in the world. The 43rd edition will take place from the 12-17th of June and FlowChyld will take to the stage on the 15th, performing among the world’s most renowned poets, including Najwan Darwish, Dolores Dorantes, Ulrike Draesner, L.K. Holt and Hédi Kaddour.
She joins a list of veteran Zimbabwean poets and literary aficionados who have participated at the Poetry International Festival in recent years. These include John Eppel, Chirikure Chirikure, the late Julius Chingono and editors Irene Staunton and Murray McCartney.
“My art is rooted in Harare’s vibrant urban culture scene and fuelled by the protest sounds of hip-hop and reggae. I consider myself a part of the city’s underground artistic subculture,” says FlowChyld.
“My poetry is mainly concerned with themes of identity, emancipation, the deconstruction of oppressive structures, socio-political commentary, individual power, as well as in transformation, all seen through the lens of a twenty-something African feminist.”
Her performances are powerful and memorable and she has left many an audience in awe. One such poem being “Art of Invisibility” which delves in the issues of true beauty and being African – the misconception, underrepresentation and misrepresentation of the African beauty.
“I’m the type that hides behind blank facial expressions
Behind neutral conversations
Because I cannot bear to be seen
I find it’s easier not to exist
In this world of mass-media constructed images
Of a kind of beauty most of sub-Saharan Africa seems to lack
Which means a darker-skinned ethnic looking sister like me
Is pretty much non-existent in the eyes of the global machine
Except as the stereotypical victim of poverty, disease & conflict
The concept of an intelligent, beautiful, natural African woman
Has to be a lie, a myth
Because I can’t seem to find myself in your magazines
Cynthia started performing spoken-word in 2008 at Sistaz Open Mic and the House of Hunger Poetry Slam at the Book Café and believes these platforms have helped to nurture her talent and greatly assisted in her growth as a performance-poet. “I have gone on to perform at many other events and places nationally including the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) and also regionally in Namibia and Lesotho. I also co-founded Chimoto! – a platform for fellow emerging performance-artists and an urban creative-outreach project - in 2010” she says.
Why spoken word? “I believe in the power of words as tools for transcending boundaries and limitations, healing psychological wounds and freeing the collective human spirit. To me being a creative artist is not about seeking fame or awards but about being the voice of the unseen and the unheard, about being unafraid to challenge the status quo or defy convention. As a poet I believe my work is to always speak the truth, provoke minds and represent the cause of progression through my craft.”
Besides performing, Flowchyld will together with other poets and poetry editors, discuss the status of poetry in areas of conflict during an event themed “Every wondering is a slithering rope.” Other participants of the debate are Sascha Aurora Akhtar (Pakistan), Vahe Arsen (Armenia), Najwan Darwish (Palestine) and Umar Timol (Mauritius), and the Poetry International website editors Arundhathi Subramaniam (India) and Hasif Amini (Indonesia).
“I feel very humbled and honoured to have been selected, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I'm not taking it for granted. It has the potential to take my poetry to the next level and I know I'll gain considerably from interacting with other people involved in the poetry industry from around the world,” said the lyrical artist.