The world has been hit hard by Covid-19 pandemic which continues to claim lots of lives. The pandemic has affected a lot of sectors including the creative industry with artists not able to show the best of their talents.
Some countries are on lockdown while others such as Malawi have not gone the lockdown route but have put up some precautionary measures in the fight against the spread of the pandemic one of which is banning public gatherings of more than 100 people.
As the world continues to battle the pandemic, artists have taken up leading roles to disseminate messages to bring awareness about Covid-19 pandemic.
Musicians have released songs, visual artists have produced different artworks while comedians have used their artistry to talk about the pandemic with poets stitching poems in different languages. Artists in different disciplines have spoken about the pandemic through their talents.
Talent is there not for entertainment only but it can be used for a cause and this is why the creative industry which has been affected greatly has not been left out in terms of disseminating messages.
This is what brings us to an anthology titled Walking The Battlefield: An Anthology of Malawian Poetry on the Covid -19 Pandemic.
The anthology has brought verses from different poets speaking volumes of the pandemic.
In one of the poems titled ‘Covid Everywhere’, poet Lughano Mwangwego, writes: Covid in the train, Covid everywhere, Covid causing pain, Covid in the street, Covid is a scare, No doctor can treat, Covid in the office, Covid in the air…
This is how the pandemic has hit the world such that a lot of things have come to a standstill. Things such as sports have been affected.
Chief Editor Martin Juwa urges people to read the anthology and get to hear more about the pandemic which continues to claim lots of lives.
He describes the anthology as timely fashioned literary work that reflects worldwide voices on Covid -19 pandemic that has raided the globe.
“Poetry has always reflected the voice of the time, and in such a memorable time like this, in the book, we hear raised voices through the lenses of some poets,” Juwa said.
Some of the poets that have contributed their works in the anthology include William Khalipina Mpina, Tadala Nkanaunena, Jonas Chisi, Benedicto Wokoma-atani Malunga, Beaton Galafa, Chisomo Majawa, Robert Chiwamba, Wisdom Uledi, Redson Phiri, Mtende Nthara, Desmond Galafa, Emmanuel Mtema, Precious Chande, Vincent Nyemba and Aaron Mboma.
Galafa, who edited the book alongside Juwa and Mpina, said the project is a collection of poetry on and about people’s experiences with the pandemic.
“Submission was restricted to Malawian writers only. The significance of the project lies in its ability to provide a platform through which Malawian writers are able to bring their hearts out, weave their emotions into word of hope and comfort in these stressful times, in the process releasing their own pain and where possible providing meaning to life through art,” he said.
Beaton, who has also contributed his work in the anthology, said there has never been any literary project on the same at the moment.
“So the idea was to be helpful in our own way, to both the Malawian literary community and everyone else. It is a bilingual anthology with some of the poems in Chichewa and English,” he said.
In his poem, ‘Alone in a Cabin, Galafa writes, To say I will die, You don’t scare me. I don’t remember living. As I’ve trudged up the stairs of life, leaping from second to second…
The anthology contains a total of 38 poems from 21 poets.
“The first publication is digital because we are still working on securing funding for print copies, so in the mean time, we thought of starting with digital copies first. But we do hope we will get it in print form soon, aside the fact that it will be easier to access via the digital format but we still need it in print for both posterity and readers, who prefer print to digital literary works,” he said.
The anthology has been published by Scribble Publications under JC Creations.
“We are looking for well-wishers to fund the printing of the book so that it can be accessed by everyone. This book is meant to be free and not to be sold and so, this is why we are seeking to honour our contributors,” he said.
Malunga said as an art form which is popular in Malawi, poetry can serve as an effective conduit for public health messages targeted at the pandemic.
“When poets, who are also advocates of responsible citizenship, harness their individual talents, to put together a collection of powerful Covid-19 pandemic poetry to save a nation from a public health crisis, the least their fellow citizens can do is to buy the informative and educative anthology,” he said.
The legendary poet, who has also taken up the drive to release more poetry on the pandemic, said people should embrace Walking the Battlefield, saying it was a must.
“This anthology is a rapid response meant to avoid a national disaster. It is also an illuminating antidote to unbridled carelessness and wrecklessness born out of the failure to see and appreciate, the dangers posed by a ruthless pandemic, that has instantaneously brought the world to a standstill,” Malunga said.
The poet has contributed two English poems including ‘Untitled’ and one which is in Chichewa titled ‘Mliri wa Corona’.
In ‘Untitled’, he writes, when an epidemic levels, the playing field of the haves and have nots viciously, it creates a dilemma, turned conundrum, difficult to unravel, like a complex riddle…
“As a global pandemic, Covid-19 rages with seemingly relentless fury, making all of us shudder and shiver with apprehension, while the power of science and technology is being ruthlessly decimated, this timely poetry anthology, carrying a multiplicity of sonorous voices from Malawi on Covid-19 pandemic, wakes the attentive mind to the horrors of our time,” Malunga said.
He said the anthology underscores that God does not give man a bigger burden than that he can carry, but poignantly reveals bitter lessons for the wise to absorb, and the foolish to ignore.
Chiwamba has contributed poems such as ‘Ndi Nthawi Chabe’.
“I think the anthology is coming at a right time when cases for Covid-19 have increased exponentially. I strongly believe that the anthology will help in spreading the message of hope to the infected whilst reminding the general public of the preventive measures that most of them already know,” he said.
The country has registered over 200 cases of the pandemic which originated in the city of Wuhan in China.