By KELVIN KACHINGWE
WHILE Zambian athletes were struggling for medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, award winning poet Cheela Chilalaâ€™s poem Rear View Mirror was being featured in Poetry Postcards, a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) project.
To celebrate the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, BBC Radio Scotland embarked on an ambitious project to collect a poem from each of the 71 competing nations and territories, capturing the essence of who the people of the Commonwealth are today.
Chilala, who is also a playwright and won the Patu Simoko Award for Best Poet at the 2000 National Arts Council organised Ngoma Awards, also did an interview with BBCâ€™s Nick Balneaves.
Producer Liza Greig wrote for BBC Arts about some of the challenges she faced sourcing poetry from some of the worldâ€™s furthest-flung corners.
â€œFinding poets, poems and ways of recording them has been a real challenge on this project, with plenty of surprises along the way. Sometimes it has been frustrating, as I knew there were lots of good poets in a country, but couldnâ€™t get hold of one.
â€œFor the Seychelles, I tried emailing and befriending half a dozen poets with no reply. I wrote to the Ministry of Culture. I wrote to the Tourist Board. I wrote to the National Arts Council. No reply. Then I found out one of the poets was a police woman. So, after a wee bit of worrying about wasting police time, I emailed Seychelles Crimestoppers, and hurrah, they got back to me!
â€œThe final poem in the collection came from possibly the most inaccessible country in the Commonwealth: Kiribati. A group of islands dispersed over 4,000 km in the central Pacific, Kiribati has very limited internet access, and the phones arenâ€™t much cop either. Despite this, I found a poet and, miraculously, we managed to connect online.
â€œAfter three months of intermittent emails, my poet Teweiariki Teaero known as Tevi, somehow managed to send me his poem as an attachment: Kaleidoscope of Hope, a celebration of Commonwealth values and a fitting final poem for the collection.
â€œAnd my favourite poem? They are all my favourites! But if push came to shove, how could I not choose the home nation, Scotland? One of those few poems recorded face to face, with the delightful Kathleen Jamie,â€ she writes.
By KELVIN KACHINGWE