The Zimbabwe-born writer found her passion for words as a teenager in Yorkshire. Her new play, Ode to Leeds, explores its in-your-face poetry scene.
Home is a complicated idea. The Yorkshire-based poet and playwright Zodwa Nyoni knows that better than many. Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Leeds, she spent her childhood between different countries and cultures. As she celebrates her adopted city in a new play, Ode to Leeds, Nyoni is reflecting on what home really means.
“It’s about time,” she suggests, “the amount of time you spend in a place.” Nyoni was four when her family moved to Leeds in 1992 for her father to do his master’s at the university there. She started school in the city and put down roots, before going back to Zimbabwe three years later. There, she says, she felt like the odd one out. “The kids pick it up so quickly and they’re like ‘you’re the different thing’. But then your parents are telling you this is home.”
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