Tag Archives: South African poets

Lost Voices: A Tribute

Dr. Graham Ellis writes:
“Many have songs but are silenced before they can sing. Many of the voices lost to HIV/AIDS will never be heard. The talent lost cannot be calculated. Many of those who are lost never ‘hit the Big Time’. The language of their hearts never reached their lips. I don’t know how many or who they were.
Mzwandile Matiwane was one and I knew him briefly.
He wrote poetry while in St. Albans jail where he spent about 14 years. He told me that poetry saved his life there. In 2006 he sometimes appeared at ‘Off-The-Wall’ poetry evenings in Observatory, where he masqueraded as ‘the Hobo Poet’. In the harsh Cape winter of that year he lived under cardboard beneath a bridge near Cape Town Castle.
On one of my trips to drop him off at his ‘home’ he asked me to take care of some of his handwritten pages of poetry. The first page opened with a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: ‘One always hears in the writings of a hermit something of the echo of the desert, something of the whisper and the shy vigilance of solitude’. His health deteriorated and in 2008 he moved back to his mother’s home in Port Elizabeth. He passed away shortly thereafter. In a phone call to him a few days before he died, he said: “It feels as if I am walking against the wind”.
Lost Voices is an attempt, not only to honour Mzwandile’s tragic life, but also the many unknown voices that we have lost to HIV/AIDS.
I have been joined in this project by the remarkable playwright and performer, Monty Jola.
Monty was Mzwandile’s friend and mentor. His acclaimed play, A New Struggle, will form the centrepiece of our short evening of poetry, music, dance and performance. Our collaboration became possible when we teamed up with Dr. Ashraf Mohammed and the Peer Group Educators of the HIV/AIDS Unit of Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Proceeds from the evening will go to Mzwandile’s mother and to Monty Jola’s Township Theatre Performance Group.
We look forward to a memorable evening.
Thanks for your support!”

Beverly Rycroft’s Missing

Beverly Rycroft

Beverly Rycroft was born in the Eastern Cape. She is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand. She worked as a teacher for several years before turning full time to writing and journalism. Her articles have been published widely both locally and internationally. Her poems have been published in local literary magazines such as Carapace, New Coin and scrutiny2. She lives in Cape Town with her family. Missing (Modjaji Books, 2010) is her first collection of poems.

In 1997 Beverly Rycroft was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. The poems in her debut collection, Missing, chart the experience of facing mortality, illness and the hope of recovery.
“This astonishingly moving debut collection reads compellingly as one complete story. Missing covers the archetypal journey from sickness and near-death to transformation and hope. Rycroft wears her exquisite poetic technique lightly – through rich and deftly crafted images, the poems are profoundly inviting, readable and memorable. I could not put it down.”
– Finuala Dowling
The telephone, once a domestic creature
has turned into a raptor.
At nine last night it sprang, the first attack.
The Doctor’s voice spinning from it
steamed warm
and sticky as fresh entrails:


When I dropped the receiver back
the shriek became a burr again.

This morning it perches beside my unmade bed
wings folded, eyes shut
feigning sleep.

I’d like you to look at your X-rays
On the sixth floor we’re almost eye level
with three white clouds that have
strayed into the maze
of buildings around Wynberg Hospital.
They’ve no language for
where they’ve been left, lost
above the traffic
and hawkers selling fruit
and taxi drivers we can hear
even from behind the double-glazed windows
of the doctor’s room.

No one’s forced me here.
I’m free if I wish to catch
– for five rand only –
a ride to
or Cape Town Central Station.
If I wanted I could
take a train to the east coast
disembark at East London
hitch to Transkei.
I’m told long-horned Nguni cattle still bask
on the Wild Coast rocks and
get called back each evening
by barefoot boys in school uniform.
I’ve seen for myself the clouds
that sprawl and slur untranslated
across that sky
beneath which poverty
     and death
are quite unremarkable.
Dying women should not wear lipstick

dying women should not wear lipstick
or pink-checked mini skirts that shriek
sexy! and shoot right up
past their skinny knees
towards their truncated breasts.
they ought not to wear
pillbox hats that lodge on their stubbled heads
like stranded yachts or put on
stiletto heels or shiny earrings
or even oddly-matched shoes. they
must stay at home and
wear brown scarves. they must
turn their dying faces away from the rest of us
and not eat ice cream on Sea Point promenade
or enjoy spring
or breed hamsters.
they may not run in the annual school sports day mothers’ race
and definitely never win.
of course they are allowed to cry.
but only in the privacy of their own
locked rooms
and only when holding
a pillow over their
warm and dying mouths to stop
their children from knowing:
     there is something a little more
     than dying going on in there.
For Thomas in California

Do you lie awake at night
– cousin Nolan asks –
and worry about your kids?
I knew someone else – he sighs
She looked fine, just like you.
     Until she died.
And the woman who cut my hair
at the hairdresser’s in Cavendish Square:
She had an Aunt with the illness
who’d been one hundred percent OK.
     Until six months ago.
Then there’s the nurse in Wynberg
who sews prosthetic pockets and enjoys
keeping me up to date with each
fresh death
amongst her dwindling
I save them all up for you, Tom
for Sunday nights
when you phone and I can finally fume:
I’m going to live
to bury all those people who think
I won’t make it

I wait for you to tell me:
Don’t say that
That’s awful
People don’t
mean to
be unkind

But you just say:
Hand me that shovel, girl.
I’m gonna help you dig.

i don’t remember what
made her cry that day
– her brother teasing? her sister ignoring her? –
running to where i sat
in the armchair of the sunny lounge
that was before they allowed
a prosthesis to lie
over the healing scar
and i only remember
– long after she’d stopped –
how hard her skull felt
on the bones of my chest.
What I plan

I plan to eat oat snaps (more than two)
while drinking Lady Grey tea
in a house at Plettenberg Bay overlooking
the mountains and a sea
rolled flat as pastry by the fussy wind.

I plan to not-plan or anticipate
the abrupt scream of metal
or the phone call at 3 am
or the silent busy-ness of my own
multiplying cells.

I plan to forgive myself if I do.

I plan to lose myself – often –
in the temporary
or chilled)
to sit out the turbulence when it mauls
at the equator of my muscle and bone
I plan to remember I’ve kept afloat till now.
And remembering better times I plan
to call them once again to account
to hang them from my warped mainsail
like worn and mended sails that shout:
Here you have held the wind.
from Missing (Modjaji Books, 2010)
The Launch 
You are cordially invited to the launch of Beverly Rycroft’s Missing:
Date: Saturday, 17 July 2010
Time: 18h00 to 19h30
Venue: Kalk Bay Books, Cape Town
Enter your details here to be added to the guest list.
Visit Reach for Recovery.

Floss M. Jay’s A Drawer Full of Flowers

Floss M. Jay was born in 1948 and grew up in the KwaZulu-Natal Midands. She was educated variously at Gem’s Farm School in Dargle, St John’s DSG and Girls’ High School in Pietermaritzburg, the University of Natal in Durban and in Pietermaritzburg, UNISA and the University of the Witwatersrand. She has taught Drama and English at schools and Universities, trained teachers and now practises from home as a psychotherapist in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. She lives with her husband, John Morrison, in Pietermaritzburg, and has three children: Emma, Alice and Guy.

Floss M. Jay

About A Drawer Full of Flowers

Here is a generous volume of poems that invites the reader to experience the “unguarded immediacy, intimacy and frankness” of a poetic voice described by her editor, Lionel Abrahams, as that of a “priestess of feeling”. The language she uses is akin to that which may be used in a sensitive woman’s letters to her intimates but is distinguished as poetic by the expressive imagery used.
Floss M. Jay has selected poems written over a time-span of thirty years and arranged them in four sections. Each section reflects a theme coalesced in moments of feeling. In the notes “About the Poet”, flowers are seen in her life as metaphorically present and blooming, absent, lost and dead or as a living part of her being. The sections take their titles from poems included in the volume and, in turn, they manifest exhilaration (Eating Jewellery), the necessary structures of human living (Bones), the very dark passages of human experience (In the Belly of the Whale) and the gentling acceptances we may be fortunate to arrive at sometimes (Bridged with Stillness).
Summer Paintings in Europe
Floss M. Jay

June, 1993
Oh – and these are not paintings:
This shoulder of wheaten gold
tumbling across the low hill
susceptible to breeze and wind
as Van Gogh predicted.
And these three brides with their men,
festive and naïve,
across the warm cobble-stones,
trailing yards of white lace,
trains of children, friends and strangers
across the dust,
weaving a visible serpent of Romance
through the village
to the wedding feast:
these are living within my grasp.
This small metal sculpture
Giacometti made
standing free of the page
in a courtyard,
its thin edges clean
against the light:
it is a man
with attitude
manifesting cautious, poised loss,
it is cold and real
against my skin.
And the girl
framed in the coffee-shop door
reading a book
dark cool behind her,
cream hair lighting her shoulders
and the sun bathing the courtyard that divides us:
she is flesh and blood.
At this distance,
home trickles imperceptibly away
taking on a waiting role,
somehow in the wings,
painted on memory-pages.
from A Drawer Full of Flowers (Selected Poems 1980 – 2010)
(umSinsi Press, 2010)
Order A Drawer Full of Flowers.

A conversation with Richard Fox

Richard Fox

Born in 1975 in Cape Town, Richard Fox graduated with a BA from the University of Johannesburg, with majors in English and Philosophy. 876, Richard’s poetry collection, is published by Third Word Publishing. His poetry has been published in New Coin, Carapace, Botsotso, Green Dragon, Glass Jars Among Trees (Jacana) and Donga. Richard lives in Melville, Johannesburg, where he is a Bookdealers’ manager and the owner of Tshirt Terrorist.
Richard, tell me something of your family origins and what you were like as a child.
My grandparents were of Polish, Afrikaans, British and German descent. My mother grew up in Cape Town while my father travelled extensively around southern Africa with his parents before they settled in Cape Town.
As a child I was well-adjusted and inquisitive. Unruly in the manner of most children, perhaps. I have very fond memories of Kraaifontein in the Cape Town southern suburbs.
You’ve lived in Kraaifontein, Durbanville, Belville, Roodepoort and Krugersdorp. During your childhood, how did your surroundings impact on you? Was moving from Cape Town to Johannesburg a beneficial experience?
Kraaifontein was a small suburb. I grew up on Selbourne Street. As children we spent our time jamming between each other’s backyards.
Moving to Johannesburg was huge. It was here that I encountered the veldt. For me it was a revelation. Where we stayed in Roodekranz, one stretch of veldt led to another, eventually to the Roodekranz Botanical Garden, and further to what is now the Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden. Across the fences were endless stretches of untamed grassland and koppies. This is what I remember most from this period, exploring these landscapes. Later, in Krugersdorp, I would walk out beyond the houses, return and write for hours. For all the natural beauty of the Cape, it is the highveldt that captured me.
Was your home full of books? What did you read as a child?
Both my parents read avidly and there were always books around. I spent a lot of time in local libraries. I developed a penchant for horror, science fiction and fantasy. Before that, the usual suspects: The Hardy Boys, Biggles, Willard Price, ghost stories, adventure stories.
Did you enjoy school?
Tremendously. I was a total clown, always getting into trouble. I attended a convent until standard five and have memories of getting caned by the nuns. I enjoyed Science and Maths, but English came naturally to me.
When we came to Jo’burg, I was enrolled in West Ridge High School and honed my skills in anarchy and petty debauchery. In my senior year, I cut loose and came close to being expelled. I did get suspended with a mate. My parents were not impressed.
When did you start writing?
I was 16. We got a household PC. I had written some stuff in longhand before then, but the PC suited me. It was a little 386. After the 386 there was a 486. Then came an old Mitaki laptop, a beauty. It was my father’s old work laptop. It used to shock me slightly if I used it for too long.
Who was your introduction to poetry?
When I was seven, I remember reading a collection of ghost stories. One of the stories featured a quote. I’m sure it was Coleridge:
          Here lies the Devil
          Ask no other name
          Well, but you mean Lord?
          Hush! We mean the same.

I must have read it a thousand times, and it’s stayed with me all these years, even if I can’t be sure that it was Coleridge. I haven’t been able to find it again.
Which writers have inspired and influenced you?
Stephen King got me interested in the physical, emotional and psychological act of writing. I was very young, 11, and here was someone who could make a story dance, and his mind was dark. I loved that. Palahniuk is another writer whose work I admire. Hemingway. I always cry when I read Hemingway. There are others. Mark Z. Danielewski. Jeff Noon. Bukowski. Fante.
In the ABC of Reading, Ezra Pound wrote: “Music rots when it gets too far from the dance. Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music”. Has music influenced you? Have any musicians influenced you?
My poetry seems to lend itself more to music than to literature. Perhaps it’s my vocal style. I write performance pieces, poems meant for recital. Many musicians have piqued my interest, inspired my work, including Ian Curtis of Joy Division, Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke and Thom Yorke of Radiohead.
Two musicians deserving particular mention for their influence are Maynard James Keenan of Tool and Michelle Breeze of Fetish. Keenan I’ve never met, Michelle I have, but both came along at the right time and pulled the rug out from under me. Keenan’s lyrics, as a backing, as an accompaniment, scored, if you will, many poems that made their way into 876. At this time, I fell for Michelle Breeze, the front of one of South Africa’s supergroups of the 90’s, whom I met at a Johannesburg gig. Michelle became, for a time, my muse. Or a representation of the muse. I am wary of attaching titles to something I still don’t completely understand, either the concept of a muse, or Michelle’s role as muse during an intensely prolific period.
You studied English and Philosophy at the University of Johannesburg. Did university benefit you?
University was crucial to my creative development. Initially, I enrolled for a BSc (Physics) at Wits. It was the wrong move and I lasted five months. I didn’t want to spend every afternoon in a lab doing tickertape experiments. I realised halfway through a Maths lecture that I wanted to write, so I dropped out. RAU, in 1995, with its traditionally Afrikaans campus, its conservative structure, was perfect for a hell-raising hooligan.
Dr Dirk Klopper, the head of the English Department at the time, referred me to Robert Berold, the then editor of New Coin, and my first poem was published in 1997. That was ‘Losst’, followed by one of my favourite poems, ‘Paper boat’.
How do ideas for poems come to you?
I think a poem builds in me. There’s a window period where I know I have to write something. I can feel it working its way loose, in a series of images maybe, or words and thoughts that link together. I don’t always have a clear picture of what the poem is going to be about, but I can feel the presence of something that wishes to be said, that I have experienced. My job is to make sure I am sitting behind the computer during that window of opportunity. Sometimes I sit down without knowing how I am meant to start, and before I know it the poem is complete, and the words seem to have always been written in that particular way. I’m not sure if that makes sense, the poem writing itself and myself getting dragged along, but that’s how it feels.
Would you describe your collection, 876?
876 is part creative footprint (an impression of what I have written over the past ten years), part autopsy (a retrospective look at what I did before I started Tshirt Terrorist). I conceptualised a series of images, a spoofed computer game, with the intention of compiling my first book of verse using these images. Robert Berold received a copy of the design brief and agreed to publish it through Deep South. I couldn’t complete it so ended up settling for the text only version, which became knows as 876. Then, I stopped writing and lost interest in publishing a collection. In the years following, I withdrew 876 from Deep South. I put it aside until 2007, when I felt enough time had passed for me to approach the manuscript from a different angle, hence my feeling that it is something of an autopsy.
What is the numerological significance of the title?
One possible interpretation of 876 is a downward spiral. The concept of spiralling inward on a journey of self discovery. I’ve always been fascinated by numerology and 876 represents a beautiful and pristine sequence of numbers. Beyond that I can’t say. It developed over a number of years for many reasons. There’s too much number theory and magical thinking here for me to accurately pin it down.
How did you go about arranging the poems in the volume?
I started out with a manuscript of 100 poems, to which I added and subtracted pieces. Once I had decided on the poems, I spread the entire collection on the floor of my study over a weekend and I picked up certain poems until I felt I had a couple of segments that seemed to fit. Finally, I gave the whole lot to Eva, my partner. She really helped. I needed a fresh perspective on the poems and their relation to each other.
Can you tell me about the colour plate at the front of the book?
The image is linked to the 876 sequence. It describes a galaxy of stars – a 6 over 9 spiral – with the two ‘numbers’ overlapping, creating a circular middle space occupied by an eye. The image came to me as a drug induced vision. Then, in 2006, I came across the visuals taken by NASA’s Cassini probe of Saturn and I was like: “There’s my eye”. There is a giant storm on Saturn that swirls around the South Pole. The centre of the storm is a huge eye. I heard about the Lucifer Project, a conspiracy theory that states NASA plans to crash their Cassini probe containing a plutonium-based propulsion system through the eye into the planet, detonating the plutonium and igniting Saturn into a Giant Solar Sun. I took the eye and hired an artist to superimpose it over a galaxy design.
Tell me about the process of writing your long poem, ‘PRESS DRUK’.
I had just returned from the 2001 Grahamstown Festival. (I first went to the festival in 1999 when Robert Berold invited me. I had just broken my femur and had written ‘Visitors Welcome’, a poem about my stay in Helen Joseph Hospital. Robert agreed to publish it. He said I should come down to meet some poets. So I went. On the train. On crutches. I had a blast.) In 2001, I took the train down again and it turned out to be a bizarre journey. Grahamstown was great, but it was the train ride that stuck. On my return to Jo’burg I gave it a week then sat down and churned out this eight page monster. There were recommendations from poets and editors that it needed editing, but after writing it in one session where it came out one word at a time, like hammer blows, I found that hard to do. I eventually succumbed and rewrote certain lines about the cop from Noupoort, which were a bit clumsy.
What feelings would you like readers to take away after having read your book?
I would like them to feel they’ve encountered original work, poetry that doesn’t follow a worn, washed-out routine. I want readers to arrive without expectation. How they leave is up to the poetry.
Where has 876 been distributed and how could one get hold of a copy?
876 is distributed by Bacchus Books and available through selective Exclusive Books stores around the country. A few copies are available through Bookdealers of Bedfordview in the Bedford Centre. Thorold’s Books in Harrison Street also has a few copies. Anyone struggling to get hold of it can contact me at thirdword@iburst.co.za.
How do you prepare for a performance?
Preparing for a performance requires a few minutes of quiet. I find a corner of the garden, a field, a deserted corridor, anywhere with no people, and I recite the work repeatedly, in a hurried whisper. During a performance I try to focus on people. Most of the time all I can see are the bright lights. I’m sure I must look headlight struck.
Tell me about Tshirt Terrorist and your t-shirt designs.
I think the t-shirt designs are drawn from the same creative pool as poetry. The ideas, when they come, feel like poems. Multimedia poetry. But it’s so much harder than writing mostly because I outsource the process, directing and managing to get the results I feel best fit my intentions. I’m an agitator. I tend to upset people by twisting things to mean what I want them to. Tshirt Terrorist allows me to continue to be my subversive self while striking out for a broader market than my poetry permitted. I tend to do a lot of work with freelance designers, but the ideas are conceptually my own.
I still write, but less frequently, and with less expectation. I realised I needed to do something else or I would begin to unravel against the lack of certainty in my creative work. In 2003, I ended up in hospital after a particularly nasty motorcycle accident. When I came out I had a rough time of it. I had lost my mode of transport and spent about a year on crutches. If it wasn’t for Eva I’m not sure what I would have done. Eva and I had just moved in together and she pulled me through. I owe much of my success to her ability to hold both of us together during this period. The t-shirt ideas started flowing, a trickle at first, then with more urgency. It’s not as easy as it seems, but I seem to be pointing in the right direction.
You can buy my t-shirts online at www.tshirtterrorist.co.za.

Lucille Greeff’s Glaskastele

Lucille Greeff

“At the root of Lucille Greeff’s best offerings lies an otherness of perception, an enchanting, quirky linguistic and imaginative bent, which vindicates the search by our publishers to develop new talent, and which is a delight to encounter. It is a search that does not shy away from what is endemic to South African experience but rather tries to retrieve it with love and care.
Lucille skryf om die beurt in Engels en in haar harts-Afrikaans. Ek hoop om hierdie grinterige jong vrouestem in die toekoms weer teë te kom.”
– Charl-Pierre Naude
“Lucille Greeff offers a fresh, resounding voice with extraordinary perception and humour. Her poetry is uniquely bilingual; she seems equally and lyrically at ease in Afrikaans and English, making both languages sing.”
– Deborah Steinmair

Book Launch

You are invited to the launch of Lucille Greeff’s debut poetry collection, Glaskastele / Skylight of the Heart.
Featuring Khadija Heeger, Tania van Schalkwyk, Winslow Schalkwyk
Music by Maxim Starcke
Live Art by Elaine Millin
@ Novalis Ubuntu Institute
39 Rosmead Avenue, Wynberg
between Wetton & Ottery Rds
Friday, 5 February 2010
18h30 for 19h00 – 20h30
Entrance R30 p.p. at the door, u/12 free (CES Talents Accepted)
Fundraising Event for Symphonia for South Africa.
Books for sale on the evening @ R100 per book (cash only).
Free drinks (non-alcoholic) and snacks served.
RSVP & Queries: 021 786 2627 / lucille@treetops.co.za
Glaskastele / Skylight of the Heart is available online here and here and at selected independent bookstores in Cape Town.

Sharks, Poets and other Endangered Species

On Thursday, 30 July 2009, the Two Oceans Aquarium, in collaboration with the UCT Writers Series, will present DEEP: A Night of Creative Currents featuring Sharks, Poets and other Endangered Species.  The event is in support of the Aquarium’s Adopt-a-School Programme.
Tickets cost R40.00 and include entrance to the Two Oceans Aquarium and a free glass of wine on arrival.  Fairview will present cheese and wine and a cash bar will be available. Art, and books from the Book Lounge, will be on sale.  Doors open at 18h30 with performances starting at 19h00.
Writers and poets have been inspired to speak and write in celebration and defence of the oceans.  In today’s rushed world there are fewer and fewer places available for contemplation and creativity, especially in cities.  Just as our creative spaces and practitioners are under threat, so too are our oceans and their creatures.  DEEP is an opportunity to celebrate the oceans and some of South Africa’s most creative artists.
Central to DEEP is the launch of Hyphen, a debut collection of poems by Tania van Schalkwyk, which is published by the UCT Writers Series.  Included in this collection are a number of poems inspired by the sea including ‘Siren Song’, ‘Abyss’, ‘Lionfish’ and ‘Water’.  Lindsey Collen, author of The Rape of Sita, Mutiny and Boy, and twice winner of the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, Africa, said, “Tania van Schalkwyk’s poems are warm, sensuous memories that often shock and surprise at the same time … They are not just on inner space, but are poems of place, as they move from islands to the veld, from cities to the desert”.  No stranger to the Aquarium, having assisted with the launch of Shoreline Café, van Schalkwyk also curated DEEP in collaboration with Michelle Matthews of Electric Book Works.
The launch of Hyphen will be supported by a collection of three minute sea-inspired flash readings and performances by select poets and writers, including Gus Ferguson, Justin Fox, Sarah Lotz, Helen Moffett, Malika Lueen Ndlovu, Henrietta Rose-Innes and a collaborative piece by Toni Stuart, Michael Mwila Mambwe & James Jamala Safari.  The MC for the evening is the inimitable Suzy Bell; writer, columnist and pop culture aficionado.
Ferguson has had seven collections of poems and two books of cartoons published; Fox is deputy editor and senior photographer at Getaway magazine; Lotz is a scriptwriter-cum-krimi author with an insatiable greed for the macabre; Moffett has recently published her first collection of poems; Ndlovu is dedicated to creating indigenous multi-media works in line with her personal motto ” healing through creativity”; Rose-Innes won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2008; Stuart works with young people, using poetry as a means of self-expression; DRC born Mambwe’s has performed on various stages from the Cape Town Book Fair to the Africa Centre’s Badilisha Poetry Exchange and Jamala Safari’s earliest artistic exposure came in the form of theatre at a young age in Bukavu, South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
These well-known word-artists have a wealth of performance experience and publications behind their names and will give voice to the ocean’s deepest secrets.
Word art by Gabeba Baderoon, Gus Ferguson, Tania van Schalkwyk and others in The Vinyl Collection, will come to life against the backdrop of smaller exhibits in the Aquarium.  Baderoon is the author of three collections of poetry and was the recipient of the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Poetry in 2005.
The evening will also feature seven short films including three from the City Breath ProjectWaitless, The Electrician and Omdat ek die stadsrumoer (Because I chose the city noise).  The writer of the latter film was blinded at age four, but at sixty-nine, still has vivid memories of visiting an aquarium.  A film, alpha, by Kai Lossgott, curator of the City Breath Project, will also be shown.  City Breath is an urban oral history video project which seeks to interrogate the official understandings of South African cities conveyed in television, film and other mass media.
Other film pieces include Umbilical Cord by poet/filmmaker Shelley Barry and Sea Orchestra and The Tale of How by the Blackheart Gang.  Barry’s films have been screened at major festivals and events around the world and The Tale of How has won numerous international awards, including “Best Independent Film” at the Bradford Animation Festival in London in 2006.
Artists Rebecca Townsend and Colwyn Thomas will show their work which will be available for purchase. Townsend works predominantly with glass and creates sculptural glass vessels that reveal the magic of the ordinary things we live with every day.  ‘Kelp’ by Thomas is a 12-part light-box installation which, according to Thomas, “is a rumination on some of the changes that take place when we grow up.”. Thomas is influenced by traditional and modern Japanese art and his works often show both humans and fish or animals in dreamscapes animated by trailing clouds, plants or jellyfish tendrils.
Local band Benguela will take to the stage against the spectacular backdrop of the I&J Predator Exhibit.  The trio, including Ross Campbell, Alex Bozas and Brydon Bolton, has played at many of the festivals around South Africa.  According to James Garner, “Benguela’s sound is an atmospheric, uncompromisingly adventurous fusion of constantly shifting elements…”  The name ‘Benguela’ is taken from the cold current running up the West Coast of southern Africa and reflects both the flowing nature of the music as well as being geographically representative of where the band came together and the climate in which they live.
Proceeds from DEEP will go towards the Aquarium’s Adopt-a-School Programme.  This programme provides the opportunity for children from previously disadvantaged schools to visit the Aquarium and to discover the wonders and beauty of the ocean and its inhabitants.  Such an opportunity can be a life-changing experience for these children and instill a deep and long-lasting appreciation for the oceans.
Tickets cost R40.00 and include entrance to the Two Oceans Aquarium and a free glass of wine on arrival.  Fairview will present cheese and wine and a cash bar will be available.  Art, and books from the Book Lounge, will be on sale.  Doors open at 18h30 with performances starting at 19h00.  For more information contact:
Helen Lockhart
Communications & Sustainability Manager
Two Oceans Aquarium
Tel: 021-418 3823
Email: helen.lockhart@aquarium.co.za
Website: www.aquarium.co.za

Joan Metelerkamp’s Burnt Offering

Body of work
Joan Metelerkamp

As coming upon
a puff-adder coiled on the carpet
under the desk
or a boomslang
slithered off out of its tracks
then its skin and later even
its bones …
perhaps they didn’t even know it
was done when it was done,
those alchemists,
perhaps it felt too easy –
like waking drugged out of sleep still
sloughing it off –
maybe they didn’t even feel better
for a while, if at all
after all
they didn’t know what they were doing
when they started
nor how terrible they’d feel
nor for how long –
they were dead scared
was it the fear itself or was it the fear
of mercury poisoning or the poisoning itself
god’s truth they must have got sick of it –
right arms aching down to the little finger
right side of the head aching
right down the back aching
sick of it sick of that vocation that exhaustion that compulsion
to make something of something as nothing
as love making matter what mattered
so little to anyone else if at all –
ridicule, poverty, social ostracism
they weren’t worried about those they worried
about their work
not working their fear not resolving
what they knew: what they were
working on
their material, their metal, to make
come like the mysterious body
they didn’t want to end up with
the same stuff they started with
the residue of the time before
all they knew they were
burning thickening melting
into air finding wanting
all they could ever hope for
From Burnt Offering (Modjaji Books, 2009).
Read my interview with Joan on Litnet.
To purchase Burnt Offering, contact Colleen Higgs at Modjaji Books: cdhiggs@gmail.com.

You are cordially invited to Burnt Offering’s launch – Joan will be reading – at the Cape Town Book Fair on 14 June 2009 from 17h30 to 18h30 at the DALRO Stage in the CTICC exhibition halls.

Sindiwe Magona’s Please, Take Photographs

It takes a village
Sindiwe Magona
It takes a village
To raise a child
Mother to tomorrow’s
It takes a village
To heal broken accord
Child to tomorrow’s
It takes a village
To plough the widow’s field
So her children will not steal
To live.
It takes a village
To sow seeds of life
Cooperation, life-blood
To communal living.
It takes a village
To raise a standard,
Kill competition, father
Of greed and unending strife.
From Please, Take Photographs (Modjaji Books, 2009)
To purchase Please, Take Photographs, contact Colleen Higgs at Modjaji Books: cdhiggs@gmail.com
You are cordially invited to Please, Take Photograph’s launch – Sindiwe will be reading – at the Cape Town Book Fair on 14 June 2009 from 17h30 to 18h30 at the DALRO Stage in the CTICC exhibition halls.

Helen Moffett’s Strange Fruit

Another Country
Helen Moffett
In other countries, I become a different person.
In Uganda, I drink beer after Tuskers beer,
and in Barbados, home-made herb rum.
In Alaska, I drive a four-by-four.
In Ireland, I stick out my thumb.
In Greece, I share a room with strangers.
And everywhere, I get up before dawn,
climbing out of windows if I have to,
scrambling to catch first light.
On the sacred isle of Iona, adrift in the Hebrides,
I walk along a beach, confessing,
clutching the hand of an impossible man
I have known for all of three days.
And I skydive into love, freefalling,
wind whistling past my ears.
A day later, I kiss him
in the middle of the night,
in the middle of a storm,
spray wet on our faces,
caught in the boom of a kettledrum.
At home, I never do any of these things.
I’m a white-wine girl who doesn’t see sunrise.
My car is small and second-hand.
I seldom take risks.
And while I might fall in love,
I no longer jump out of planes,
hurtle into the heart of the wind.
But maybe I should. Live in another country.
for Sean McDonagh
From Strange Fruit (Modjaji Books, 2009)
Read my interview with Helen on Litnet.
Read four poems from Strange Fruit at Rustum Kozain’s blog,
To purchase Strange Fruit, contact Colleen Higgs at Modjaji Books:
You are cordially invited to Strange Fruit’s launch – Helen will be reading – at the Cape Town Book Fair on 14 June 2009 from 17h30 to 18h30 at the DALRO Stage in the CTICC exhibition halls.

Fiona Zerbst’s Oleander

Legacy – after Frida Kahlo
Fiona Zerbst
‘We must sleep with open eyes, we must dream with our hands’
Octavio Paz

This column of air.
These nights of broken stone.
This flesh that speaks.
If Mexico is Frida,
It is also
Fig and prickly pear,
Water gods, dry ears
Of corn, torn as petticoats.
Vanilla jar of dead water
Circled by a peacock.
This is what is left to those
Who linger in the courtyard.
Her legacy of nails in flesh,
Tears of pomegranate:
A broken column
Painted as herself.
Frida dreams in turquoise;
Now vertical, her bed
A crushed infinity.
Reflected in her mirror,
This heart that frills the sand’s
Dry life with blood.
This column of air,
These nights of broken stone,
This flesh that speaks.
If Mexico is Frida,
Then it is also
Paintbrush and suffering,
Icon of desire,
spine of jewelled bone.
As she paints,
She dreams with her hands.
As we watch,
A butterfly sticks
To coils of her hair.
That flat plate of brow
Is a golden canvas
To feast from.
From Oleander (Modjaji Books, 2009).
Read four poems from Oleander at Rustum Kozain’s blog, Groundwork.
To purchase Oleander, contact Colleen Higgs at Modjaji Books:
You are cordially invited to Oleander’s launch – Fiona will be reading – at the Cape Town Book Fair on 14 June 2009 from 17h30 to 18h30 at the DALRO Stage in the CTICC exhibition halls.
Visit Fiona’s blog.