Thursday, 20 May 2010

k!9 - 'the story that tells the tale' - Philani Nyoni

This month's poet is Philani Nyoni, a young Zimabwean law student studying in South Africa. Born in 1989 in Bulawayo, he won his first literary competition in 2007 and began his career as a performance poet with Zimbabwe Poets For Human Rights in 2008. His love of the Greek classics and epic poetry is evident not only in his chosen stage name, The Poet Pan, but also in the style and themes of his work. In this he differs from many of his contemporaries and contrasts sharply with the work of such poets as his fellow countryman Mbizo Chirasha (k!8) - contrasts, but also compliments. Where Mbizo bites like hunger and packs a bullet into his punch Philani's pen is gentler, seeming at first glance to be concerned with a world far removed in both time and place, but ultimately no less relevant to the modern African or world stage and no less profound. He is working on a novel and on his first anthology. It is a genuine pleasure to publish this whimsically titled example of his work.


His torso was the envy of Apollo,
Where he walked no man could follow.
His chest was a breastplate of amour,
Smithed by the gods, and he found humour
In other men’s attempts at glory. A warrior fierce,
A man rejected by nature, a man without tears,
A breed of warrior unseen before
Whose every step echoed "hero."
But now where art thou oh Achilles? Where do you stand?
Do you not lie restless among those men who you would send
To Hades with your brandished steel?
Where art thou oh warrior? In the grave still
Or in the torment of shades? Where are you Achilles,
Oh son of the gods? You who like a syphilis
Of a kind infested the loins of Troy while Hector
Brave prince, tried to scratch away the new factor
In Trojan underwear brought about by Paris whoredom. You slew
The greatest warrior in the world. Who knew
That “valour’s minion” could fall to one man’s sword?
‘Twas great honour to those who could afford
To watch your amour gleaming as you carved
Your way through flesh. The only thing you loved
More than glory was obstinacy, so you fought
For ten years on foreign soil. You thought
You had gone to conquer, for glory, yet death
Found you a long way from home. No mirth
For you, no smile. You sold your life for
Glory yet, like all warriors, your victory
Was recorded as the king’s and the story
That tells the tale is sometimes distorted
To paint you as some kind of a retarded
Individual while the horror of it all
Is the knowledge that, when men fall,
Great or not, when man dances with fate
He leaves all he is and ever was at the gate.

This Poem Copyright of Philani Nyoni 2010

kushinda! looks forward to your comments and submissions. Enquiries are welcome, please write to artskushinda at

Philani's poem, and work by Mbizo Chirasha, will feature alongside readings by Dumi Senda at Kushinda!Live events in North Wales during June 2010


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