In Conversation with: SaintValz

Zimbabwean creative SaintValz

SaintValz is my creative name and my government name is Valentine Tusai. I am a 30-year-old man who grew up and was raised in the City of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. I have been called a social media entrepreneur, so I also think that title sums up a lot of the projects that I have been involved in creating. I am a poet and author with a few anthologies under my name. I also have a book I am working on and that is where most of my spare energy is currently going. I say spare energy because I have a day job and other projects which help me fund these creative dreams.

Where did your passion for poetry come from?

Pinpointing the spark to my poetry is tricky. I have several factors which brought me to falling in love with this beautiful art form called poetry. I read a lot of novels as a boy, reading novels was my great escape and as a creative soul I always found myself writing random stories on notepads and rap lyrics. Hip-Hop also contributed a lot, I was always intrigued by the wordplay of rappers.

How did Poetritis Nirvana come to be?

Poetritis Nirvana was formed in 2015. As a poet I was just penning poems in my room and posting on my blog, I barely knew other poets. I wanted to create a platform to house a lot of poets so that we could share, write, collaborate, grow and make the most out of synergising. Poetritis Nirvana is a poetry series where poets write collaborative poetry and post our episodes online on our pages. A season has 30 episodes and we’ve had 14 seasons so far. Every season has new poets and they are selected from different countries mostly in Africa, we’ve had poets from more than 15 countries and uncountable poets. Besides just penning the series, I’ve met very awesome people and have grown some good friendships.

Tell us more about your work with Bulawayo Bloggers and Curate Bulawayo.

My biggest movement is Curate Bulawayo which is a twitter run platform (@CurateByo) with more than 16000 followers. Every week a fresh person takes charge of the account and they engage with the followers and discuss whatever is relevant in their field of expertise and their Bulawayo experience. I have had more than 200 curators and thankfully the platform keeps growing. I never dreamt it would get such traction and now I run it as a business, I have a team and we have partnered with several individuals and organisations.

Bulawayo Bloggers is also a special baby. My fondest memory is exactly 2 weeks after forming Bulawayo Bloggers, I got a call for BBC asking for my perspective on a survey which was done ranking Bulawayo the worst city in Africa (yes, I know what you’re thinking). So, I was on BBC Radio that night defending my city. They liked my vibe so much they requested that I do another interview on the morning news. And they labelled me “A well-known social media entrepreneur from Zimbabwe”, and that’s the first time I felt I owned the title. Anyway, Bulawayo Bloggers is just a platform that conglomerates bloggers from around the city, not much as an online move but the idea is to hold meetups at resorts and spots around the city and share ideas. Our first meetup was at Hillside dams and it was the coolest meetup I’ve ever been to. We are also a partner to the Tribe of Influencers association and its Zimbabwe Bloggers Awards.

SaiintValz poet

What inspires your poetry and how do you know when what you have made has “that thing”?

I have confidence in my work, when I write I try to put all my focus on the piece I’m working on. Any lack of concentration and the vibe is lost, the muse disappears. I also put myself in the shoes of the reader and see if I vibe with what I’m reading. Mostly I know every genre or topic has its audience, I’m a diverse poet and I grow on the feedback that I get.

What is the most important thing you consider when writing new work?

Honesty! There’s a lot going on around us and we just need to be true to our environment. We need to be real. We got to be authentic. We got to be Honest.

Who are your favourite writers and why them?

Dambudzo Marechera is a local favourite, I admire his work, his self-awareness and well detailed stories that are so vivid.

Mutsa Diana Shiripinda another late poet who was a personal friend of mine. She had ratchet life and totally owned it, she owned the stages she performed on and her poetry was the most daring and had the raw honesty that is hard to find.

Internationally Yrsa Daley-Ward does it for me. Her poetry and storytelling is just amazing. I am also a fan of short powerful poetry. Blow someone away in the shortest lines possible. Yrsa will have you thinking of one line for the whole day.

Pierre Alex Jeanty is a new favourite of mine. His poetry gives hope to lost souls.

What is the one thing you can’t live without?

Data or WIFI.

Given the chance who in the world would you want to collaborate with?

Definitely Yrsa Daley-Ward.

What is the soundtrack to your life?

God Is by Kanye West, off his album Jesus Is King.

What are you most fond of about being Zimbabwean?

The ability to adapt anywhere, we are blessed with that resilience.

How would you like to be remembered?

Remember me the way you remember Dambudzo Marechera.

Social media

Twitter: @SaintValz @poetritis @curatebyo

Instagram: @stvalzpoetryfund @poetritis_nirvana

Blog: https://valzcognition.wordpress.com/

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