Of Batsirai Chigama’s For Women Trying To Breathe And FAiling (Its Not Your Fault)

For Women Trying To Breathe And Failing (its not your fault)

For Women Trying To Breathe And Failing (its not your fault) is a poetry collection by Batsirai Chigama.

For Women Trying To Breathe And Failing (its not your fault) Batsirai Chigama

Batsirai’s debut poetry collection Gather The Children (2018) won her a NAMA (National Arts Merit Award) for the 2019 Outstanding First Creative Published Work. I had the pleasure of attending the book launch for Gather The Children which incidentally was the first book launch I ever went… and had the honour of attending the book launch for her second and latest poetry offering….

Book Launch set for Batsirai Chigama
For Women Trying To Breathe And Failing (its not your fault)

The launch was a cosy garden affair with spectacular lighting, music by Masa Caroline, Mwenje Mathole, Tina Watyoka and a theatrical book reading featuring actress Charmain Mujeri, dancer Deborah Kabongo accompanied by the music of Othnell Mangoma Moyo.

 I don’t think the audience and myself included were quite ready for the theatrical reading which captured the failing to breathe; an underlying theme in this poetry collection that offers a woman-centric view of roots, life, healing and love.

We need to talk
We are breeding bombs
Under our tongues
That will explode when we kiss
Our children goodnight
Can we talk…?’

The Good

As with her previous work this emotive poetry collection again challenges the age-old adage that women must be seen and not heard; breaking the silence, the rug under which a lot of issues have been swept under…

We are dancers of light
Never slaves to gravity
Daughters of wind.
Daughters of fire.
Silence was taught to our mothers
and we rejected it at birth
-Daughters Of Fire-

The book subtly links together our past and our roots, generations of ideology that have been passed down to bring about this stifling present where women fail to breathe and…. Its through no fault of theirs.

Our great grandfathers forgot 
To teach our grandfathers
To teach our fathers to give
Our mothers room to breathe.
-for mothers learning to breathe and failing (it’s not your fault)-

Its also about respair (a new yet very old word that’s been at the tip of my fingers, read my previous post Coffee with respair) finding hope, healing and love.

Stop, look at yourself
You are walking this journey for you,
Heal for yourself
Only you can bring yourself to a soft landing.
-wounded heart-

Within a tapestry of 93 poems this collection stitches up a comprehensive view of life, in Zimbabwe, through socio-economic and political lenses to everything in between…

Yesterday I bought happiness in a five hundred millilitre jar...
...out here happiness can be bottled as a cough syrup too-

The Bad

Some sections have poetry which explores very heavy themes but then again it’s a book about trying to breathe and failing…. At the back of your mind the idea will rattle around about the man’s whose dying words were “I cant breathe” which has become a rallying call for injustice, inequality and apathy, Zimbabweans Cant Breathe, Teachers Cant Breathe, Learners Cant Breathe… while these phrases does not appear in the book, they will be somewhere at the back of your mind….

For Women Trying To Breathe And Failing (its not your fault)

The Ugly

The book title: For Women Failing To Breathe might have one thinking this book is written only for women…. The title is rallying call, in the way Gather The Children was a rallying call, could have easily titled this Gather The Women… oh but I digress, the book is a call to take one’s power back and when one finds their voice, the next thing is to make people listen…

My father,
He cut my mother's tongue
I don't remember when
it must have been before I was born
All I know is her silence stammers
-breath slayer-

Final Thoughts

With six sections of poetry there’s a bit of something for everybody be you a taxman, a mother, a daughter, a politician or simply a lover…

•Citizen Woman In A Land of the Undead
•How Love Should be
•For Women Who Forget to Breathe While Alive
•For Women Failing to Survive
•For Women Finding Their Feet
•Random Thoughts of A Woman Sojourner



      1. It’s part of my agenda. There is a belief that men have that intrinsic motivation in doing anything yet of late we see standards going low.
        I will star a from for a boy child in a few.
        Thank you

        Liked by 2 people

  1. We are all failing to breath. I can’t breathe you, can’t breathe and they can’t breathe too.
    Its like a slow death thats gnawing at our souls. At this rate we shall all be dead.

    Liked by 1 person

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