Book Review: Grace – Notes on Survival

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Chiedza Pasipanodya, 57 pgs, Sorplusi Institute Press, sorplusi.org, $20 

How do we begin to pick apart a collection of poems that speak to the most devastating parts of the human experience? Chiedza Pasipanodya’s life story is a good place to start. The Toronto-based artist hails from Zimbabwe, but has perhaps travelled through more lives and realities than continents. That Pasipanodya is described as a student of Metaphysical Ministry and a healer by profession is easily conceivable: poems like hers trace the image of a woman spiritually awakened with lived-in sensualities.

The beautifully-designed Grace follows Pasipanodya guiding herself through many kinds of heartsickness — to which she seems particularly prone — and emerging with a poise and elegance that suggests a complex, well-considered interiority. Her soul beams from the spaces between her words, its patina shined and buffed by wisdom to reveal a warm glow.

For all of this, the reader is richer. Pasipanodya’s tales, red and raw as they may be, are dressed in hope and a strong sense of resolve, standing steadfast as a beacon for the less well-adjusted among us. Live in your woes for a time and honour them duly, Pasipanodya prods, and then live on. It feels like a privilege to watch the writer lose and find herself many times over within these precious few pages; a how-to manual for staying afloat.

Empowerment is the result. The writer presses that “there is no such thing as a hero” and that “everyday actions are heroic” in a tender call for gentleness with ourselves. The irony in her fable of self-trust and self-sufficiency is that she fearlessly demonstrates for us just how to live so nobly. True as it may be that we find heroes only when we look inward, Pasipanodya’s work of art provides a wonderful blueprint for how we might do just that. (Lydia Ogwang)

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