New Zimbabwe.com

On African poetry and Life: Exclusive with Philani Amadeus Nyoni (PAN)

NOW and again, a Zimbabwean writer comes along and transcends readers minds with the offerings of his writing. Philani Amadeus Nyoni’s (PAN) poetry knows no boundaries, his voice is established and he handles his work with care and authority.
I met PAN for drinks in Bulawayo, on a day when the long awaited rains had finally given way. Our conversations are grounded and humorous, our silence is comfortable and thoughtful. He has clout and is boldly fearless. At times I want to cacoon him in an impenetrable fortress, but his poetry is as free as the African eagle that looms over Matebeleland, and he asks that we, his readers let him be, because at his best he is writing poetry. Philani is as feisty as he is controlled; he is ahead of his time and he chooses to write within the bounds of his homeland, surrounded by the spirits of those who came before him and paved the way for amazing writers and readers alike.
PAN talks to Dorcas Gwata, Director of Tribal Sands:
DG:  PAN, your work, your art is a readers treat, how did you find the pen, or did the pen find you? 
PAN: Thank you, I do what I can. My relationship with the pen was a gradual courtship. I was wooed at an early age; in fact, I can remember the first time I said it out loud that I wanted to write. I was ten, talking to Babili. Even then I was deeply aware of my ability to use words in a unique way. In fact when I changed schools in third grade, I was supposed to repeat the second because they felt I was not ready for their vigorous curriculum. One of the interviewers strongly opposed the motion on the basis of my exceptional reading.
Five years later I wrote my first poem. I will not go into the details of who was who, but there was a writer on a park bench, another walked with me. He is dead and somehow I was aware of his presence and absence. He was narrating something to me about the other writer (they were great friends in this life). The words kept ringing in my head when I woke up. I wrote them down and stood back and said, “wow, I can write poetry!”
DG: Your personality, your sense freedom, stands out as much as your writing, do we as readers understand you in the light that you want to be understood?
PAN: The funny thing about that is I hadn’t noticed this until I got a signed copy of “More Than A Woman” by Ericah Gwetai (Yvonne Vera’s mother) signed. The MC had arbitrarily decided I should read a few pages at the launch and I happily complied. She wrote something similar to what you are accusing me of being and now I have to sit back and wonder.