This week, our Women and Words series takes us to Zimbabwe as we get a better understanding of the faces behind verbal and written expression through the power of words.
Hailing from Zimbabwe, Tanyaradzwa “Ty’ra Vanadis” Masaire
Tanyaradzwa Masaire is a young woman of diverse passions and talents whose main desire is to use her interests and passions for the betterment of the human race. She is a poet, blogger/writer, business woman and photography enthusiast who has a knack for figures hence her pursuit of a career in engineering.
This is her journey……
Soulfulmiss: Do you have a pen name?
Tanya: Yes I do have a pen name which I use mainly for my poetry. The name is Ty’ra Vanadis. The first part comes from joining my second and first name and then the last bit is derived from Norse mythology.
SM: How old were you when you started?
Tanya: I started writing when I was around 8 years old.
SM: Were you exposed to poetry growing up?
Tanya: My parents love books, so I grew up in a house filled with literature novels and various academic texts. This definitely drew me to the written word. In addition to this, my primary school teachers actually had us write poems during creative writing and I remember my poems always scored highly and I would be asked to recite them in front of the whole class.
SM: When did you realise that its something you really wanted to be doing, what encouraged to pursue it?
Tanya: One morning, during school at the age of 9, I was suddenly inspired to write a poem. I proceeded to show my school teachers the poem. They were so impressed that they made me recite the poem that very day in front of the whole church. And from that point onwards, I knew that this passion and gift was definitely something I wasn’t supposed to let go of.
SM: Where does your inspiration come from?
Tanya: Initially I drew my inspiration from sadness. Poetry was my own therapeutic way of picking myself up and bringing back my sunshine. But now my poetry comes from a happy place and I am inspired to write by anything and everything – be it music, nature, movies and even general conversations.
SM: Is poetry just a pass time to you?
Tanya: Poetry is my life. I take it very seriously.
SM: Do you have a day job?
Tanya: I live a very interesting Iife. I’m a student and I’m also involved in business.
SM: Why isn’t writing your full time job?
Tanya: The main reason is because I have to devote a huge chunk of my attention to my other commitments which consume almost all of my time and focus.
SM: What do you think should be done to make poetry a mainstream art?
Tanya: Funny enough, considering that Africa is thought of as being the hive of poetic expression, somehow, poetry ( like rap or jazz ) is an art form which the majority of the people in our society are not well versed in. Hence it’s generally misunderstood and not as easy to comprehend as genres of music like R ‘n’ B or Zim Dancehall. The one way to change this is to try out more of poetry in mainstream media. Talk about poetry more and demystify it. Host more shows and make these shows more accessible.
SM: Are you working on any projects currently?
Tanya: I’m involved in quite a few projects – the one closest to my heart being The Real Zimbabwe Magazine which is more of a Blogzine aimed at changing the African narrative through creative writing and photography. We provide a platform for Zimbabwean creatives to share their poetry, art and photography on our website and workshops.
I’ve also recently started sharing knowledge from my experience in the wedding industry through wedding blogging.
SM: How do you manage to juggle and balance such a busy schedule ?
Tanya: I wake up very early and sleep late so as to increase the amount of time that I can devote to my activities. Scheduling is also one way to increase productivity.
SM: Did you have any fears when you started?
I was my biggest critic. I never thought I was good enough and I feared being rejected by my readers.
SM: Has your gender ever affected how you or your work are percreceived by your audiences and peers?
Yes it definitely does. My being a strong, ambitious woman who speaks her mind has definitely gotten me confused with a lot of movements which I’ve not consciously pledged allegiance to. This then creates a negative perception towards my work which at one point almost caused me to “dummy it down” and hence stifled my creativity. Fortunately though, I realized that the only perception which should affect my writing is my own and not anyone else’s.
SM: One thing you have learnt since you started writing that you didn’t know before and one you wish you knew when you made that decision to start writing.
Tanya: I have learnt to be more accepting of criticism and not to fear it as much as I did before. I’ve realized my imperfections actually make me a better creative because they create opportunities for me to learn something new.
I wish I had understood then as much as I do now, how ones experiences shape their perceptions and how they view things. It would have saved me a lot of internalised persecution and misunderstanding.
SM: Any advice for someone who wants a career in writing?
Tanya: Let go of the desire to be the “best”. Writing shouldn’t be about the competition or being more outstanding than the next person. It’s about expression of self in whichever way you want to express yourself. Sometimes this expression will attract negative comments but these shouldn’t deter you. Whatever happens in life, don’t let anything – be it a busy schedule, criticism or even fear, steal your voice! Just keep on writing again and again until you live your last day on this Earth.
SM: What do you enjoy more, spoken word or written poetry??
I do written poetry more. I’m always scribbling down my thoughts on my notepads and devices.
Find out more about Tanya on:
Join me again next week for another inspirational African story!