Tag Archives: South African small presses

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.
  
Launch
  

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
Village.
  
It takes a village
To heal broken accord
Child to tomorrow’s
War.
  
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
  
Launch
 
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,
Groundwork.
  
To purchase Strange Fruit, contact Colleen Higgs at Modjaji Books:
cdhiggs@gmail.com.
  
 
Launch
 
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

  
I.
 
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.
 
 
II.
 
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.
 
 
III.
 
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.
 
 
IV.
 
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.
 
 
V.
 
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:
cdhiggs@gmail.com
  
 
Launch
  
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.

Modjaji Books

 
Four wonderful new Modjaji poetry collections go to the printer this week.  The volumes are available at the special offer of R100 each if you buy one this week.  They will sell for R120 plus in the shops when they are out.  The books are:
 
Please, take photographs by Sindiwe Magona;
 
Burnt Offering by Joan Metelerkamp;
 
Oleander by Fiona Zerbst;
 
Strange Fruit by Helen Moffett.
 
All four collections are available for R300, if you buy them this week.
 
If you’re interested, contact Colleen Higgs at Modjaji Books:  cdhiggs@gmail.com.
 
 
About Modjaji Books

Modjaji Books was started in 2007 by Colleen Higgs.  Modjaji is a new independent press that publishes the work of South African women.  “Modjaji – which means rain queen – is a press that will make rain and generate spaces for new voices to be heard that otherwise may not find a platform.”