Jessica Hemmings

Textile Writer

Yvonne Vera: the voice of cloth

Author (Kalliope Paperbacks: 2008)

Textile CultureYvonne Vera: The Voice of Cloth explores the presence and purpose of cloth as metaphor, structure and object in the fiction of late Zimbabwean author Yvonne Vera. Throughout this research, the production and consumption of cloth are understood to represent domestic graphologies, a term coined by Vera in her own Ph.D. which refers to communication that goes unnoticed by conventional discourse because of the domestic, and therefore seemingly inconsequential, materials appropriated to convey information. Here an inconsequential and often overlooked element of narrative and life – the textile – is shown to play a central role in the articulation of the often silenced experiences of incest, infanticide, abortion and rape that make up the narratives of Nehanda (1993), Without a Name (1994), Under the Tongue (1996), Butterfly Burning (1998) and The Stone Virgins (2002).

Chapter Five “How All Life is Lived, in Patches” is anthologised in Textiles: Critical and Primary Sources volume 4, Catherine Harper (ed) London: Bloomsbury, 2012: 384-401.

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encountering Yvonne Vera blog post by Tinashe Mushakavandu