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The Sunflower Faces East At Dawn by Thokozani Mbwana

  • The Sunflower Faces East at Dawn by Thokozani Mbwana is healing medicine, created with love and resilience. Mbwana explores the meaning of holistic, individual sustainability through his poetry, calling the reader to invest in themselves. In a world that continues to push people beyond their means, The Sunflower Faces East at Dawn is an act of defiance that meets the reader kindly and softly. “to rest, for peace” is possible in the world that Mbwana imagines and adamantly desires with his poetry. This chapbook is both sanctuary from and therapy for everything that has harmed us.


    - Marisa Vito, contributor to Zoetic Press


    The writing of Thokozani Mbwana holds a softness and truth much needed in a world that relentlessly works to convince Black trans and queer people, that we are undeserving of these deeds. This collection of poems is a reminder of the inherent transformative power that words can have, if they are spoken with careful intention. The vivid and bright sunflower imagery invites us as readers to visualize our own growth and the many possibilities of slowly becoming who we dream ourselves to be. Each poem can be read as a manifestation of self-love and collective-care, while at the same time speaking to the experiences of violence that preceded the need for a deeper knowing and understanding of the self and the collective. The Sunflower Faces East At Dawn is an offering to everyone who knows the strenuous work of self-acceptance, -love and perseverance. It is a tender hug, an affirmation and a reflection of the beauty that exists within, no matter how hard it might be to find it on days, when the lies we have been told about ourselves threaten to suffocate the last glimpse of hope for a blooming future.


    - Jean Foncé, poet



    Sunflowers are pretty, but have you ever seen a pretty sunflower boi? A flowerboi who swallowed

    sunflower seeds and grew them out of their throat? A god. A beauty.

    Thokozani weaves tasteful words, soft and delicious like warm sunflower oil. Must be the flowers

    blooming in their body. Or The divinity of existing beyond the binary. Or the Black Agender ancestors

    they call onto. A god. A beauty.

    I too want to be a sunflower. To heal in the sun. To face East when I look for god, in the mirror. To

    be: A god; A beauty.

    And so should you.


    -- Billy Hani, queer writer and photographer


    About the Author


    Thokozani (they/he) is a nosey researcher by day and an Ancestor-summoning poet by night. Their work explores existing and becoming and the murky confusion that lies in between. When not writing, thinking of writing or dreaming of writing, Thokozani can be found frolicking in sunflower fields, hula-hooping, or eating copious amounts of pizza. You can find their debut poetry chapbook titled The Sunflower Faces East At Dawn (2022) with Selcouth Station, their chapbook of personal essays titled Agender Daydreams (2022) with Gutslut Press and other personal projects at



    Page numbers: 28

    Publication date: May 2022

    ISBN: 978-1-7398761-8-0

    Genre: Poetry/LGBTQA+

    Cover art & design: Samantha Mbwana