Khadija Heeger’s Beyond the Delivery Room

Khadija Heeger 
 
 
 
Khadija Heeger was born in Cape Town, South Africa. She was raised on the Cape Flats in the township of Hanover Park. She is a well-known and popular performance poet.
 
In 2007 she was commissioned to write a multidisciplinary theatrical poetry piece in collaboration with indigenous soundscape artists, Khoikonnexion, for the Spier Poetry Festival in 2008. These performances were greeted with standing ovations. The piece, Stone Words, was later taken to the Grahamstown Festival in 2009 (funded by the National Arts Council of South Africa). Stone Words is the first part in a trilogy called Separation Anxiety. She is currently writing the second, Blood Words, following the crooked lines of DNA. Khadija has also performed in Amherst in the United States as part of an artist exchange programme.
 
 
 
 
Beyond the Delivery Room 
 
 
 
“Heeger’s is a poetry of sincerity and acumen, searching for nuanced understanding and meaning among the welter of public clichés and private rationalisations by which most of us live. In a country where people are ‘vrek van pille roek met ‘n apartheid spoek’, these declarative, propulsive poems urge us to renew a process of reflection, self-examination and action.”
 
– Kelwyn Sole
 
 
 
“Khadija Heeger is a mould-breaker, a contemporary South African griot of the ancient tradition of griots described as poets and storytellers whose “wit can be devastating and knowledge of local history formidable”. In her poetry Heeger reconstructs and re-imagines vital histories. From the raw and personal to the locally relevant and globally political she unflinchingly names what has been intentionally erased, overshadowed or forgotten.”
 
– Malika Ndlovu
 
 
 
 
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Home 
  
 
I have to draw maps.
I have to ride my feet like chariots.
I have to speak like stone and rock.
I have to see like water.
I have to love like mother tongue.
I have to wrestle with the bones of my dead.
I have to wade through the sands, leap through the dungeons
so I feel,
so I feel as I wonder through my life
not knowing me, not knowing now.
See my mirrors and my footprints dance,
me my back to the wind posing in the cracks of my winded smile.
See my questions barren, black shoving marks against these walls,
burning holes in charcoal dreams.
I am here but seldom seen.
I am here,
I am.
 
I have to draw maps.
I have to ride my feet like chariots.
I have to speak like stone and rock.
I have to see like water.
I have to love like mother tongue.
I have to wrestle with the bones of my dead.
I have to wade through the sands, leap through the dungeons
so I know,
so I know the dust-stamp footfall,
a murmuring earth call,
knowing where, knowing how
knowing me, knowing now.
 
I have to draw maps
to make the swindler mute
to sound the horn
to speak by using my own tongue and annihilate the mutant words.
 
I have to ride my feet like chariots
to win her back
to find her soles and grow my own
in the new places I call home.
 
I have to wrestle with the bones of my dead
so I may live here in their stead
carrying their wisdom on the lean road
learning the lessons by which I am led.
 
I have to wade through the sands,
leap through the dungeons
to find her footprint, to find her footprint
to make a footprint
to make a footprint of my own
so I will know
that I am
home.
 
 
 
 
from Beyond the Delivery Room (Modjaji Books, 2013).
 
Order Beyond the Delivery Room from cdhiggs@gmail.com
 
 
 
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