Zimbabwean storyteller Tinashe Dylan Manguwa ‘19 independently published and released his first poetry book titled Oblivion. The book delves into a host of topics inspired by his own experiences over the years, from mental health struggles to failed relationships to spiritual uncertainty and discussing his Blackness and Africanity, all of which tie back to the journey to finding and discovering more about self.
Tinashe’s first poetry book titled Oblivion
The book contains five chapters, each with different themes showing a persona’s growth and maturity over the pages. The number five is significant for Tinashe: “Firstly, it is said that there are five stages of grief, so as the book progresses, readers see the persona undergoing all of them until they accept themself for who they are by the end. Secondly, I have been taught that five is the number of grace, so throughout all the hardships these poems detail, I want to invite readers to give themselves grace even when they fall short and relate to my own shortcomings, knowing that identity crises are only temporary through intentional introspection.”
On the title choice, Tinashe credits the inspiration to his own journey with self-discovery: “ I have questioned and neglected my identity a lot over the years. I immersed myself in spaces that proved detrimental to me all because I wanted to ‘fit in’ or be ‘seen’. I had been living in oblivion. I had to realize that before anything else, I am enough. I should never be oblivious of that truth.”
Tinashe recently graduated from ALA where he won the Spirit of Africa Award for his infectious passion to transform the continent. ALA is where he discovered the power of stories, his own and those of others, through taking classes such Writing the African Experience, Africa Through the Lens, and Omang—Foundations in African Identity.
Here are four points Tinashe hopes the reader will become more conscious of or less oblivious to through reading his book.
Meaningful work first starts with humbling the self
“As someone who strives to make a positive impact on the continent, I am learning to first have a sense of self and what I stand for and then also think of more than just myself. I think the call to transform Africa requires a self-awareness that realizes that one is only as human as others.”
Perspectives drive our outlook
“I think there will always be confusion if someone does something and others do not know why. And the only way to understand why is through critiquing how one perceives the specific action. It is important to analyze how one views the world around them and challenge the biases we may possess.”
We are all called to that which is greater than us
“Though I touch on my relationship with God a lot in the book, this can be interpreted even outside spirituality. Every single person is gifted in some way or the other and it is those gifts that will make room for the change we seek to create. It takes intentional work to cultivate and steward over those gifts.”
It is okay to bleed and reach out
“When faced with tough situations, instinct tells us to retreat and cower. But I believe that when we don’t hide our wounds, we can treat them easily, with the help of others since no one is an island. I want this book to show readers that on the other side of the hurt, beauty still exists.”
Tianshe starts his undergraduate studies at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, this August where he intends to double major in Africana Studies and Psychology, with a Creative Writing minor.
Oblivion is free to access through the following link: https://issuu.com/maysixteenth/docs/oblivion__final__9_