|No stopping poetess Blackheat |
|Sunday, 22 May 2011 16:52|
HARARE - Blackheat deShanti is a poetess who was born in 1986 in a small mining town of Zvishavane, which is almost 400km from Harare.
Growing up, she excelled in academia, sport and art. She went on to pursue a career in the sciences, graduating in 2009 with Honours in Food Science and Technology and a major in Analytical Biochemistry.
She started writing poetry when she was eight and then started performing in June 2006 after she met renowned Zimbabwean poet, Chirikure Chirikure, who introduced her to the rudiments of slam poetry at The Book Café, in Harare.
After that, there was no stopping her.
Speaking passionately on consciousness, love, revolution, culture and the delicate, balance of the mind and soul, individuality and freedom, she was soon on the biggest poetry platform at The Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) in May 2007.
From there came the poetry show, X-rated, with DJ Munya Milimo, who was then at Power FM in June 2007 through To August 2008.
This live show, fused instruments such as the djembe, mbira and acoustic guitar and generated quite a lot of interest in southern Africa.
It also explored the poetics of hip-hop by showcasing underground rappers and conscious hip-hop artists.
During the same year, she took her place in the Southern African Artists Against Aids Festival (SAAF), which brought together artists from all over Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Lesotho.
Several other high-profile shows followed, with performances at The Alliance Francaise, Gallery Delta, 7 Arts Theatre, The Mannenberg, CUT Theatre Club Poetry Nights amongst venues in and out of Harare.
She has performed together, most recently at Hifa once more in 2011, with Pitika Ntuli (South Africa), Qabaniso Malewezi (Malawi), Morten Sondergaard (Denmark), Ngwatilo Mawiyoo (Kenya), TJ Dema (Botswana), Quaye Kojo (Ghana) and Mbizo Chirasha (Zimbabwe).
Locally she has done extensive work with Mashoko/ Magamba (Comrade Fatso, Outspoken, Upmost), and The Toyi-Toyi Arts Collective ( G.O.D., Zaza, Cush, 45) as well as The Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights, (ZPHR: Mabwe Mwnakomana, Shoes Lambada, Ronald Jongwe).
She also took part in The African Drums Book and Poetry Tour which was curated by controversial Zimbabwean poet, Mbizo Chirasha.
She is also an actress, having done her last major theatre production at the 7 Arts Theatre in June 2007, titled June, the Stone Cold Season.
Apart from all this, she is also a designer and musician who plays the piano, keyboard, mbira and the recorder.
She also writes short stories and plays although the bulk of her work is unpublished.
The artist has secured a recording deal with Crossline Music for her first poetry album, which should be out next year.
Asked what inspires her writing she says, “tragedy, tragedy, tragedy…the tragedy of disillusionment…that of not knowing and understanding the self… in turn, not understanding creation and consequently, the Creator. Pain, death and just the drudgery of life…with a few rays of sunlight streaming through.”
She also draws her inspiration from the music and culture of the Mande/Malinke jelis(griots) and her band is composed of the acoustic guitar, balafon, djembe and mbira.