BODIES ARE (NOT) HOMES
“Bodies are (not) Homes” is the body of poetic work Phindu Zaie Banda released in 2018. Containing poems with personal themes about loss, love and growth, her original idea was to talk honestly about miscarriages and the loss of children; a story she felt strongly she needed to tell because of someone close to her. The concept of bodies simultaneously being and not being homes evolved from there to addressing how much of ourselves we give to others to our own demise and the importance of loving ourselves enough to take care of our bodies.
A storyteller with a passion for words, Phindu is a poetess whose journey in poetry started in 2014 out of boredom after completing her secondary school. In trying to find her voice, the meaning of life and how she could make herself useful, she found herself binge watching Spoken Word poetry on her uncle’s laptop one afternoon. Watching videos of Q Malewezi and other spoken word videos from P4CM, she thought to herself “Hey! I can do this. I can write stuff, memorize it and share it with others.”
That’s how her journey as a spoken word artist began. Penning down one of her popular poems, titled “Silence”, she stood in front of a small youth gathering from church, pushing past her fear , shaking and worried about getting the words right, she narrated the poem which was about teenage pregnancy and suicide which got great feedback.
“It was one of the bravest things I ever had to do and hearing people applauding me for it assured me I did well even though I tripped over some lines,” Phindu says. It was all the encouragement she needed to work on her poetry and stage presence to become the performer she is today. Phindu is not a stranger to having her poetry dismissed as being too “emotional”, something she has learnt to accept with the knowledge that her poetry is not for everyone. More often than not, the most common reaction to her performances has been awe at how vulnerable she allows herself to be on stage and the emotion she draws from her audience.
“I have people come up to me with tears in their eyes, thanking me for telling their story or congratulating me on being brave and fierce enough to talk about the things nobody dares to talk about,” Phindu says. She pours so much of herself in her craft that it’s hard to pick one personal favourite from her collection, which is filled with poems that feel like diary entries that no one else should be reading.
Phindu draws her inspiration from various fellow poets, citing Q Malewezi’ work which speaks to her own style of writing. She’s a firm believer of writing relatable poetry that audiences will not have trouble understanding, an important aspect of poetry in this day and age. On the international stage, she is inspired by the works of Warsan Shire and Sarah Kay; Warsan Shire because she writes in an intimate manner that makes the reader feel like its personal and Sarah Kay because each of her performances have a quiet fierceness about them. Constantly learning from the artists she comes into contact with, Phindu makes it a point to engage with them and their work as often as possible, finding inspiration and guidance from their patterns and poetic rhythm.
“There has been so much growth in my journey, thanks to the poets I have heard and poems I have read. I look to others to say the same about me,” Phindu says. “My most heartfelt piece from the album is “Note to Self”.
“I dedicated it to myself as a reminder to constantly be kind and gentle with my body and to love myself completely,” Phindu says. Currently working on new anthologies to be published sometime this year, she is looking to explore themes of love, loss, trauma, self-worth, growth, beauty, wholeness and womanhood. The anthologies will consist of poems she has written over the years and finally has the courage to share with the world. Drawing from her own lived experiences, she hopes she will be able to capture every aspect of her essence and put it eloquently enough into writing for herself and her readers to delve into. Be on the lookout for her first solo show this year and her second studio album.