Tag Archives: South African writers

Reading

  
    
Edited by Sophy Kohler (who is also the Cape Assistant Editor of BOOK SA), Imago publishes poetry, short stories and creative essays by University of Cape Town past and present students and staff. The journal is designed and produced by Sophy Kohler and Electric Book Works.
    
Issue 1 includes contributions by Simon Abbott, Diane Awerbuck, Leila Bloch, Kyle Fullerton, John Higgins, Karen Jennings, Matthew Kalil, Jordan Kantey, Matthew Koehorst, Sophy Kohler, Emma Lombard, Peter Merrington, Masande Ntshanga, Redvers, Farrah Schwab, Oliver Strang and Nick Wicht.
    
Email queries to imago.journal@gmail.com.

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.”

A Fork in the Road: André Brink on Ingrid Jonker

  
“Until recently, I have chosen not to be drawn into discussions or evocations of her life, notably in documentary films, some unforgivably bad,” he writes.  “But precisely because of these I have begun to believe that perhaps I owe it to her at last to unfold, without drama or melodrama, some of the things I have kept to myself.  Not the icon but the person. The woman I loved.  And who nearly drove me mad.”
  
Read Andrew Donaldson’s article in The Times.
 
Read more about South African poet, Ingrid Jonker, on the Poetry International Web.

Why I Write

 
Poet and activist, Dustin Brookshire, invited me to contribute to his Why Do I Write series.
 
Why do I write?  Author, naturalist and environmental activist, Terry Tempest Williams, covers it all in one of my favourite writing quotes.  It’s from her prose piece entitled “Why I Write” in Writing Creative Nonfiction, edited by Carolyn Forché and Philip Gerard (Writer’s Digest Books, 2001).
 
This year’s contributors to the Why Do I Write series are Mary Jo Bang, Robert Pinsky, Ellen Steinbaum, Paul Lisicky, Virgil Suárez, D A Powell and Didi Menendez.  Last year’s line up included Charles Jensen, Erin Murphy, Dorianne Laux, Matthew Hittinger, Christopher Hennessy, Paul Hostovsky, Courtney Queeney, Julianna Baggott, Ellen Bass, Sandra Beasley, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Kurt Brown, Cecilia Woloch, Denise Duhamel and Dara Wier.
 
I think there’s something for everyone.

An interview on Poéfrika

I have an interview on Rethabile Masilo’s Poéfrika, an interesting and informative site for Africa-inspired writing. 
 
Rethabile, a Lesotho national living in France, asked me some challenging questions and I’ve contributed a line to an ongoing poem here.
   
This is the first in a series of poet interviews on Poéfrika, so stay connected to the site.

Isobel Dixon’s ‘Gemini’


 
Gemini
Isobel Dixon
  
Below my heart hang two pale women,
ghostly, gelid, sea-horse girls.
Without my telling you would never
see them, tiny tapioca clumps suspended
in the silt between my bones.
  
So nearly motionless, they are both breathing,
dreaming their amoebic dreams,
and I swear when I wake before dawn, try
vainly to return to mine, I hear them, faintly,
murmuring. But my ribs make a shallow hull
  
and one of them must go. Duck, bail out,
flushed into the sewage and the wider sea.
I can’t endure them both, adrift
among my vital parts, sizing each other up
with tadpole eyes. I must decide
  
and feed the lucky one. Let the other shrink,
dissolve back to this body’s salty soup.
Look closely at them: soulmates, secret
sharers, not-quite-siamese. Who stays,
who goes, which one of them is history?
  
She kicks up an almighty storm, makes
waves, enormous, tidal; while her sister’s
calm, pacific, dull. Our oil-on-troubled-water-
pourer, keeper of the peace. You choose
mark one who should be squeezed out
  
of this narrow vessel; voided, spilled,
to lighten, buoy me, make some space.
Plain sailing then, I’ll forge ahead, forget
her spectral presence, and a lifetime’s
sly, subversive whispering. Learn
  
single-mindedness at last. But when it’s well
and truly done, how will I know? Will I feel
relief, release, how the balance shifts
and settles; then walk straight, unpuzzled,
sure  or limp and stumble, still
obscurely troubled, phantom-limbed?
   
 
 
 
from A Fold in the Map (Salt Publishing, 2007)
   
Read more about Isobel and A Fold in the Map here.
   
Visit Isobel’s website here.

Christopher Hope reviews André Brink’s A Fork in the Road in The Guardian

  
“The real kick in this book comes last.  After supporting all his life the vision of a better way for all in South Africa, Brink is appalled by what change has brought and he is not afraid to say so.  He tears into a governing elite who resemble nothing so much as the brigands they suceeded – who substitute for the vox populi of the ballot box the vox dei of the ruling party; preside over a “tsunami” of crime and violence that terrorises everyone in the country; prefer quackery to antiretroviral drugs in the fight against Aids; and unapologetically back tyrannies from Burma to Sudan and Zimbabwe.”

To read Christopher Hope’s full review of A Fork in the Road (Harvill Secker) click on the above link.