Poetry from an African writer currently living in America, with musical themes and influences.
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Jaji came to the United States to study piano at Oberlin. In 1998 she performed Robert Schumann’s Carnaval, Op 9., for piano; this volume of poetry mirrors the structure of Schumann’s music while filling in the content with Jaji’s own themes and experiences. The first sequence, “Family Trees,” lays out a genealogy with a fruit/vegetable/garden metaphor, situating the family as a place of growth or rot, depending on how its members are cultivated. The main sequence, “Carnaval,” can’t be described without spoiling it, but trust me: if you thought nothing could improve on Schumann, you’re wrong. With its vivid imagery and bold imagination, Jaji’s work is highlly recommended for serious poetry fans and curious music lovers.