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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

BOOKED @ Muse: Ronelda Kamfer

Ronelda S Kamfer

Ronelda Sonnet Kamfer was born on 16 June 1981 in Cape Town, and she spent some of her childhood on a farm in Grabouw where her grandparents were labourers. Kamfer started writing poetry as a teenager as a way to express herself, when in 2005 a friend entered her poems into a competition and months later she was contacted by a publisher informing her that her poems made it into the anthology for Nuwe Stemme 3, published by Tafelberg in 2005.

Her poems were also published in other anthologies such as My ousie is ‘n blom – Snailpress 2006, Bunkerhill 2007 and her debut, Noudat slapende honde – Kwela publishers 2008, for which she received the Eugene Marais prize for poetry.

The muse got acquainted with this gentle wordsmith of ghetto truths at the 14th Annual Poetry Africa Festival where she rocked and lulled the audience at the Elisabeth Sneddon Theater with Afrikaans poetry portraying the lives and dreams of the people in her Cape Flats neighbourhood.

In January she was a participant at the Winternachten festival in The Hague alongside Antjie Krog, which resulted in her book being translated into Dutch. Nu da Slaapende honden, will be released in November by Podium uitgeverij, translated by Alfred Schaffer.

Some of her poems have also been translated into French, Portuguese, and soon Turkish. She will be participating in the Winternachten tour to Turkey at the end of October.

Between her travels to literary festivals, she is reading for an honours degree at the University of the Western Cape, under Prof Antjie Krog. She says, “I am reading my prescribed books, such as Oomblik in die wind by Andre P Brink and Santa Gamka by Eben Venter. I am writing analytical reports on both books, so there is no pleasure in the reading process”. Her daily “staple,” however are the poems by Charles Bukowski and Dylan Thomas, “they are my creative fuel,” she says.

Poems

nag
mag die nag jou goed behandel
mag die donker vir jou mooi wees
mag stilte vir jou vrede beteken
en mag die naggeluide jou aan die slaap sus
mag jy drome droom
en nie net slaap nie

waar ek staan
nou sit ek om ‘n tafel
met my voorvaders se vyande
ek knik en groet bedagsaam
maar
erens diep binne my
weet ek waar ek staan
my hart en kop is oop
en soos goed opgevoede mense
lag en eet ons saam
maar
erens diep binne my
weet ek waar ek staan

Poems copyright Ronelda Kamfer


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BOOKED @ Muse: Thabo Lehlongwa (Motho Fela)

Thabo Lehlongwa (Motho Fela) Thabo Lehlongwa A.K.A Motho Fela (formerly known as Common Man) is a prolific writer, cultural activist and spoken word artist dredged in the hip hop movement. He has been using his voice since he was 15 years old to contribute to the development of young people, particularly those in townships. He has exhibited his wordsmith prowess by offering poetry performances, inspirational talks and life skills workshops to youth in high schools, clubs, prisons, churches and street corners around the country.

His works have appeared on numerous publications such as Timbila, In-Sight, Words Gone 2 Soon and a variety of material published within the development sector, such as NGO Matters and the Land Digest. He also wrote a poem titled “The Landless have Landed”, which became a battle cry for the Landless People’s Movement. Motho Fela recently contributed a track in Rise Mzansi, a compilation album that features socially conscious rappers and poets from townships around Gauteng.

He is currently working on the publishing of his debut collection of poetry The Seed of Life which is accompanied by a hip hop/poetry CD. Through his Film/TV production company and as a film producer, he is currently involved in a few film projects, including a documentary about Matsemela Manaka, a full length feature about the privileged black youth called Cheese Girls. He also co-produced Sivelaphi Siyaphi, a documentary film that chronicles the legacy of the 1956 women’s anti-pass march.

Mothofela has performed at gatherings such as t WCAR (2001) 16 Days of Activism Special in Muvhango (2006), Jozi Spoken Word Festival (2007), World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002), and the Launch of the Landless People’s Movement among many others.

When the Muse caught up with Mothofela he was reading Conversing with Africa by Mukoma Wa Ngugi, as well as is rehearsing for his upcoming explosive theatre-styled one-man musical poetry show entitled Remember Me! inspired by one of his classic poems (see below). The core theme of the show is “Embracing Humanity”, with a special focus on “celebrating the resilience of the human spirit”.

Poems

Remember Me
from the anthology Seed of Life

Remember me the common man
from the land of the common people
where poverty pierces souls of the feeble
like needles do skins of dizzy junkies

Remember me when you see
that hungry kid begging for money
to buy poisonous sweets,
before he goes to sleep
in a filthy corner of the street

Remember me coz you see
that’s my brother,
a product of a runaway father
your brother’s keeper’s cousin
who was never there to raise him

he was raised by harsh streets
that taught him how to be mean and brave
he never saw love
all he knows is how to hate
watch out as he allows his rage to escape
your wife, mother and daughter are about to get raped
not forgetting your brother
in the CITY where the SUN never shines

remember me when that happens
and ask yourself if you and your fellowman
have planted enough seeds of love
for you to seek peace in this wicked land

remember me ‘coz you see
everything you’re about to see
is just another repetition
of the future’s history
remember me when you meet
that angry hungry urban jungle man
in dark alleys
scheming on stealing your empty wallet
before he finishes skinning you alive
ask yourself if you and your fellowman
have planted enough seeds of love
for you to seek peace in the wicked land

remember me when you see
that small red dot between
the lifeless eyes of your beloved brother
ask yourself if this evil action
of your fellowman’s off-spring
is a true reflection of your own investment
to the bank of social strength

remember me when you’re in your lovely car
waiting for that red light to turn green
then suddenly through your clean windscreen
you see a man-made compassionless subhuman being
pointing a deadly instrument to your head

your heart stops to beat
you find it hard to breathe
your cell phone is hard to reach
you cannot call the police
on a number that’s toll free 0800 11 12 13

remember me when that happens
and ask yourself if these evil deeds
of your fellowman’s off-spring
are true reflections of your teachings to society

remember me when these casualties of reality
are suffered by the ones you love and need
ask yourself if you and your fellowman
have planted enough seeds of love
for you to seek peace in this wicked land

remember me the common man
from the land of the common people
where poverty pierces souls of the feeble
like needles do skins of dizzy crack junkies

this is where mental malnutrition
turns kids into super-killing machines
trigger happy creatures who never hesitate to kill
sucking all your blood until you stop to bleed

Remember me when you realise the need
for you and me to INCREASE love and peace
before these cannibals of reality
swallow all those we love and need

Remember me, INCREASE LOVE PEACE

*

face the music

self-pity is a deadly disease
fortunately there is a remedy
self-love and preservation of sanity
losing the mind over shit is never worth it
positive thinking is a noble mission
but only a few can really accomplish it
those who find life to always be amusing
the beautiful ones who have the guts
to face the music

the fighting spirit must always be at ease
wounds in the spirit should not be licked
wolves in sheep’s skin should not be killed
for lessons of life they bring to the weak
are worth learning, as part of life’s journey

fearing the greatness from within
is the greatest tragedy
celebrating life means embracing the pain
it’s in that tune, where we find priceless gains
facing the music is the ultimate test of endurance
just learn to dance
coz the music will never stop playing

*

remembering the times

                                          like a real soldier
you carried battles on your shoulders
                                          walking side by side
                              you and me on straight line
fighting wickedness, from the same side
                              many battles have been won
                  but the struggle continues to go on

                                          i still vividly remember
those times when we lived like brothas
                                          breaking bread together
                              you on the forefront, like a father
                                                a reliable bread provider
                              making sure that we neva gave up

i remember those times
which are now long gone
from a distance i see you taking strolls
with those who oppressed us before
you no longer respond
to my desperate calls
except of course
when you need me at the polls

Poems copyright Thabo Lehlongwa


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BOOKED @ Muse: Khanyi Magubane

MC Khanyi Magubane

Khanyi Magubane‘s spirit lifts her words from the tongue to the conscience of poetry lovers at home and abroad. The muse found herself in the company of words penned by the talented radio presenter, performance poet and writer for an upcoming poetry presentation called “Body of Words”. Khanyi’s poems speak in love and in defence of women and girls’ rights. Her poetry addresses serious social ills in a wit that makes them flow almost into comedy or satire.

Her strong voice captures SAfm listeners where she hosts the popular gospel and spirituality show Living Sounds on Sundays between 6-8pm. “When I started the show in 2006, it was an hour long, and was really just music. It currently creates a space where people are free to talk about their deepest hurts and pains as well as joys, and we try to collectively help each other,”she says. She also hosts Art Matters, an arts show on Fridays where she discusses different art forms – from visual arts to art films and contemporary dance, theatre and musicals.

Khanyi was recently nominated for a young achievers award in the inaugural MTN Radio Awards.

Her work has been published in several anthologies which include Botsotso‘s Sections of Six, UKZN PressBasadzi Voices, literary journal Words etc, and British literary journal Sable. In between rehearsals for the Body of Words threatrical poetry performance opening at the Market Theatre Lab on Friday May 14 at 20:00, Khanyi immerses herself in Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father.

Poems

I heard the flesh speak
February 2005

I’ve been empty for too long to be filled like a common whore
On the corner of desperation and self-loathing avenue!

Look at me…Damn it I said look at me!

Or maybe just come closer and smell me.
But please sir, do not be confused.
Each man has his own smell, his own place on this body.

I’ve been empty for too long to be filled on a street bench,
Listening to the mockingbird and leaves turning their faces
and the wind escaping-the wind; at least give me the wind to
calm me. Now its just silence beyond the thrusts, I can no longer
feel him. Now, I listen to the thoughts I have won 24 gold medals
for every day on the run.

Can I have some of that salvation sir?
Give me some of that salvation and grace and mercy and faith sir.
Will that make me high? I need a high to forget right now.

What is this army? This army running towards me, lifting me, lifting
Me, lifting me; sir, this army is men and women with bright coloured
Faces on fire-they lift me, lift me, and then they drop me again. O’ sir, such
Pleasure. Just once, fill me like a sophisticated mistress bending over her
life and touching nothing of its decay. But please, pastor, righteous man of
the cloth, if you must sin, not with me. I’ve been empty for too long
to be filled like a common whore between no esteem or hope boulevard.

*

Silent Questions
15 December 2006

Why you always gotta go?
Leaving me still beautifully aching,
Wanting more.
Its seems all too soon.

Is it the silence of this eerie night?
Bodies panting, minds racing, emotions
Unsettled?

Why do you always stare at my bemused face
when you dress in the natural light of the night?

I can still see your face you know,
half adoring me, half cursing me.

Where are you going?
I would understand if you had a family waiting for you.
I would understand that you are more
Than just my lover.

That sometimes you must assume your other
Roles – father, husband, son, friend, brother.

But, I know you have no one.
Stay with me.
Hold me, a little longer.

The grimace on your face smacks of guilt.
What we do, does it make you feel guilty?
Leave you feeling dirty?
Why than, do you always return?
Why do you always rip your own wound
Open?

Sometimes, I pity you.
But most times, I envy you.
A free agent, tied to nothing
And no one.

Or maybe, you are tied
To the illusion of the life you wish you
Had, yet one you can never fulfill in reality.

Come, my love, come back to sleep.
Stop this foolish talk of leaving.

– Copyright Khanyi Magubane


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BOOKED @ Muse: Sindiwe Magona

Sindiwe Magona

Please, Take PhotographsBeauty's GiftSindiwe Magona is a living legend among South African writers. The educator, community activist, poet, playwright, actor, motivational speaker and novelist enchanted Italian audiences recently at an international women’s day festival, Calendidonna, whose 7th edition is dedicated to Africa/South Africa. Magona read verse and poetry with Italian photographer Silvia Modio during the opening of her photographic exhibition focused on a journey of love during the time of AIDS and HIV. When Muse caught up with Magona the writer had just read Please take photographs, the title poem of her first collection of poems, published by Modjaji Books.

The Cape Town based Magona has written over 30 children’s books and 15 novels and short storie,s including Push-Push and Other Stories, Living, loving and Lying Awake at Night, Forced to Grow, Mother to Mother, To My Children’s Children, and her latest novel, Beauty’s Gift (Kwela), among others.

The former exile spent over 20 years in the USA and parts of Europe where she taught at high schools and Universities, as well as working for the UN. She currently lives in Cape Town and facilitates motivational support groups and a women writers’ forum. In April 2010 she will join other South African writers and poets at the London Book Fair. Among other reads and literary activities, Magona is doing research for her biography project on Anglican Arch Bishop Njongonkulu Ndungane.

Poem

Please, take photographs

Go to the nearest or cheapest electronic goods store
And there, buy cameras by the score.
Hurry! Go! Go! Go!
Then go home; gather your family and
Take photographs of them all
Especially, the children; especially, the young,
Hurry! Hurry! Take photos of them all
Before it is too late.

Take photographs of the children
Take photographs of them playing
Take photographs of them crying
Take photographs of them reading their best books
Or doing their chores – But –
Hurry! Hurry! Before it is too late.

Take photos of the children kneeling, busy at cat’s cradle
Take photos of them naked and dancing in the rain
Take photos of them fast asleep in their cozy beds
Take photos of them in their school uniforms; their Sunday best, Or ragged day dress.
But, please, hurry and take photos of the children,
Before it is too late
Before all the children are gone –
Before the promise that is their life
Is snuffed, easy as candle light.

Your sons, so fearless, call sex with condoms
Eating candy with the wrapper on.
Perhaps their coffins they’ll call castles
The ant and worm their company, slaves who do their every bidding.

Please, take photographs, and tell the children why –
Take photos, before the young perish, to the very last.
Take photographs! Take photographs, and put them on the walls.
So the image of the dear face will forever live on.

I know, small comfort is a picture, your son or daughter gone.
Cold is a photo, from it comes not warmth nor smile nor hug.
A photo does not laugh; it will not go to the shop for you
Or be solace in your old age.

But, take photographs! Take photographs
So on birthdays and other days of remembrance
You can point to the picture on the wall and say –
Vusi would’ve been thirty today, perhaps with a
Young one and yet another on the way.

Take photos, take photos, before all the children are gone.
Before our tomorrow is no more –
Halved, at best, by the plague that comes with love;
Helped by the children who will not believe their
Dying – And men who grew up in bone structure
The feet and inches, from the ground, sprouting.
Men who escaped the meaning of the passage of the years.
Who shot up, went to school – some;
But escaped the meaning of Social Responsibility.
To such souls, respect, respectable, respectability,
Are long dead; forget morality!
Doomed, despicable, craven images of humanity.

Please, hurry! Take photographs of all the children, now!
Take photos, for tomorrow they will be gone.
Take photos! Take photos of the children…
Children who will not see thirty.
Children who will never…grow…old.
                Who will never grow old
                                    Never
                                                                grow
                                                        old

- Copyright Sindiwe Magona

Book details

Photo courtesy Victor Dlamini


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BOOKED @ Muse: Dennis Brutus 1924 – 2009

Dennis Brutus

Poetry and ProtestOn 30th January 2010 a round of memorial services held in honour of the late Dennis Brutus came to an end at the Baseline in Newtown, Johannesburg. Hoards of his wor(l)d’s followers came in song, word and sound to remember the life of a teacher, educationist and activist who died at 85 on 26th December 2009. This prominent writer and poet will be remembered for his courage and support to the disenfranchised majority of landless people and workers, among others.

While at a seven hour long memorial service organised by Sounds of Edutainment and wRite Associates to honour this legend of protest, poetry and prose, the Muse interacted with various revolutionaries, most of whose will never be seen or heard on TV. Artists and writers such as Lesego Rampolokeng, Patrick Bond, Moemise Motsepe, Vonani wa ka Bila and the Botsotso Jesters are among those who shared word’s power with the audience.

A documentary on the life and times of Brutus was run while performers and speakers took turns on stage. It was noticeable that most of the service’s attendees were not artists, writers or the well known socialites, but mainly ordinary women from local informal settlements and workplaces.

-

Brutus was well known among the underground poetry movers and shakers internationally. He was an organiser within the Anti-Privatisation Forum, Earthlife, and Jubilee South Africa, among other progressive movements.

Brutus was born in Zimbabwe in 1924 and raised in South Africa, where in his early adult life he was imprisoned and attacked for his contribution to the anti apartheid struggle. In 1961, he was banned under the Suppression of Communism Act. He fled to Mozambique, but was later captured by apartheid police forces and jailed at the Johannesburg Fort and later on Robben Island. Between 1964 and 1965 he wrote the collections of poems Sirens Knuckles Boots and Letters to Martha – two of the richest poetic expressions of political incarceration.

In the 1970s, while in exile in London and later in the USA, he took the role of, among others, poet, anti-apartheid campaigner, and professor of Literature and African Studies at Northwestern (Chicago) and Pittsburgh universities. His final academic appointment was as Honorary Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Civil Society. While there he published the autobiographical Poetry and Protest in 2006.

“Brutus’ political activity initially included extensive journalistic reporting, organising with the Teachers’ League and Congress movement, and leading the new South African Sports Association as an alternative to white sports bodies,” comments his colleague (and co-contributor on many progressive articles) Patrick Bond.

Since the 1990s on his return to South Africa, Brutus became a pivotal figure in the global justice movement and a featured speaker each year at the World Social Forum, as well as at protests against the World Trade Organisation, G8, Bretton Woods Institutions and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. This anti-racist hero will be remembered for his struggle against any social and economic injustice and his contribution towards bringing closer “the global and local, politics and culture, class and race, the old and the young, the red and green,” says Bond.

Poems

Sharpeville

What is important
about Sharpeville
is not that seventy died:
nor even that they were shot in the back
retreating, unarmed, defenceless
and certainly not
the heavy caliber slug
that tore through a mother’s back
and ripped through the child in her arms
killing it
Remember Sharpeville
bullet-in-the-back day
Because it epitomized oppression
and the nature of society
more clearly than anything else;
it was the classic event
Nowhere is racial dominance
more clearly defined
nowhere the will to oppress
more clearly demonstrated
what the world whispers
apartheid declares with snarling guns
the blood the rich lust after
South Africa spills in the dust
Remember Sharpeville
Remember bullet-in-the-back day
And remember the unquenchable will for freedom
Remember the dead
and be glad

(1973)

*

Stubborn hope

Endurance is a passive quality,
transforms nothing, contests nothing
can change no state to something better
and is worthy of no high esteem;
and so it seems to me my own persistence
deserves, if not contempt, impatience.
Yet somewhere lingers the stubborn hope
thus to endure can be a kind of fight,
preserve some value, assert some faith
and even have a kind of worth.

(1977)

Book details

Photo courtesy Moonstone Arts Centre


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BOOKED @ Muse: Malika Ndlovu

Malika Ndlovu at the New Africa Theatre

Invisible EarthquakeMalika Lueen Ndlovu is a playwright, performer, arts project manager and mother, working under the brand “New Moon Ventures”, with the motto “healing through creativity”. She has published poetry books including Born in Africa But and Womb to World: A Labour of Love, Truth is both Spirit and Flesh, and a poetic memoir, Invisible Earthquake: a Woman’s Journal through Stillbirth, published by Modjaji Books in March 2009. Among other anthologies, her poetry is also featured in We Are… A poetry anthology, published by Penguin in 2009.Visit www.malika.co.za.

Malika’s latest play Sister Breyani had its world premier at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees 2009 before a highly successful run at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town.

Hosted by Scripps (Women’s College) in April 2010 she will tour Chicago with extracts of her play A Coloured Place, as well as Writing Our Way Home based on issues around gender, race, ancestry, family and a true sense of belonging beyond physical place. (Also see http://theatre.uiuc.edu/pages/african-dispora-festival.)

In the UK, she will be featured at the London Book Fair (18-21 April), where the Fair has a South African focus for 2010.

Malika is a founder-member of Cape Town-based women writers’ collective WEAVE, co-editor of their multi-genre anthology WEAVE’s Ink @ Boiling Point: A selection of 21st Century Black Women’s writing from the Southern Tip of Africa and is member of The Mothertongue Project since 2004. At the Grahamstown Arts Festival in 2004 she left gigantic spiritual and artistic prints when she presented Uhambo: Pieces of a Dream.

She has also initiated the And The Word Was Woman Ensemble of 14 local performance poets, bringing together established Cape Town writers and fresh writing talents. She also performed at the Poetry Africa International Poetry Festival in 2005.

Words Pave the Way is an autobiographical journey through her poetry performed at the Darling Festival Trusts 2006 Voorkamer Festival. Womantide is her poetry-song-music production in collaboration with well-known singer-songwriters Tina Schouw and Ernestine Deane.

In January 2008 Malika became co-curator of the Spier Poetry Exchange, renamed Badilisha! Poetry X-Change – a highly successful 5-day international poetry festival produced by the Africa Centre in Cape Town to celebrate the rich history and contemporary practice of African arts and culture. She is currently developing Badilisha!Poetry Radio, an online African poetry podcast platform.

Muse @ BOOK SA caught up with this artist extraordinaire and shared within her several current reads which include Bhuddhist teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and Daisaki Ikeda of Sokka Gakai International (SGI), A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, Listener, a poetry anthology by Lemn Sissay, and Storm Between Fingers, an anthology of Black UK & Chicago-based poets from a group coincidentally called Malika’s Kitchen.

“I am also browsing through juicy mags….latest issue of ROOTZ – local arts, culture & music mag which I write the Soul Food column for quarterly and OPRAH mag.”

Poems

Truth Is Both Spirit And Flesh

Truth is both spirit and flesh
It is the hotel bill or photograph discovered in a pocket
The open mouth saying nothing in defence
It is the fact splattered across the courtroom
Exposed to cameras, microphones and strangers ears
It is the addict at the brink of suicide
Frozen between picking up a fix or the telephone
It is the vibration in your chest and stomach pit
That hits when you hear or read a real guru’s words
It is the breath absent from the body of a beloved
Who will not wake up or ever laugh into your eyes

Truth is the child speaking without thinking
Unaware of the adults they have suddenly stripped naked
It is the cut, the scar, the wrinkle, the rash, the swelling
The illness revealed in the face, in the shaking
The toxin reflected in the skin
It is the uninhibited hug projected from the heart
The electricity of a long time lover’s touch

Truth is the smoke or the stench
That cannot be dismissed or disguised
The bone that waits decades to be found
The memory in our cells
The irrepressible rising of tears
It is the current in our veins
The universal rhythm of our hearts
It can be understood in any language
It lives within the word and the sound

Truth is liberation and source of great pain
It is both water and fire
The visible and the invisible
It is the written and the unwritten
The space and the line
It is different
It is the same
It is buried
Yet it will not die
It is the silence before
Beneath and beyond
The lie
It waits for you and I
It will not die

Truth is both spirit and flesh

**

A Woman’s Path*

shards of light
penetrate her shroud
solitary silhouette
standing on a dark mound
waiting for her moon
 
 
veiled in night
slowly she lets her head fall back
her mouth opens into the black
a soundless shout
a flock of doves flies out
dispersing into the darkness
carrying their messages
to distant quarters
 
 
in her silence she is calling
each receiver’s name
all over the world they awaken
those leaving
stay
those dying
begin to breathe again
those warring
feel a tender wind unclench their fists
lighten their weapons
wash across their brows
 
 
now light peels in
defining earth from sky
she releases one more muted cry
the air absorbs it instantly
persistent as her shadow
it takes in everything
 
 
with this dawn unfolding
she finds her feet again
frees them from the red earth enveloping them
and takes her first step
with each one the rain obediently responds
gently it begins to touch her shoulders
her head
her cheeks
gradually dripping into the arc of her back
dancing on her outstretched arms
pooling in her open palms
 
 
the further she walks
the harder it pours
erasing her footprints
soaking her skin
listening for her command
for when to end this cleansing
 
 
she alone can hear the music
of her heart
her breath
her feet
beating the growing river of red
 
 
through the mist
above the mountains ahead
a rainbow like a dream
faintly emerges
beckoning her to the other side
 
 
she follows her heart-breath-beat
and feet
they know the way
they will not stop
not until the dark descends again
when time will play her trick
of dejavu
 
 

* Inspired by a dream after visiting Tradouw’s Pass in the Klein Karoo, July 2005

**

cleansing

out of my body
out of touch
much too long
I have been away
from where i belong
where i am strong
the ground that knows
the pulse of my feet

in my body
i am home
my organs quarrel
my heart wants to be alone
from opening to opening
a rhythm to reclaim
a neglected, divinely protected nest
between my breasts

deep inside i hold my hand
expose where it began
the breaking of this promise
the severing of this bond
mind and muscle
faith and flesh
now restored to sharing
one blanket of breath

- Copyright Malika Ndlovu

Book details


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BOOKED @ Muse: Thabo “Flo” Mokale

Thabo "Flo" Mokale

Thabo Mokale, passionately known as “Flo”, is a poet, writer, actor, stage director, and entertainer whose performances leave audiences feeling light hearted and cracking in laughter.

In addition to being one of South Africa’s favourite young poets – with poems such as “I thought of Writing you a poem”, and “Hi, My name is Flo” – he is also a powerful beatboxer and plays the Storotoro (jaw harp), with which he has accompanied the likes of Ursula Rucker, Lebo Mashile, Stacey Anne Chin, Mak Manaka, Roger Bonair Agard and Steve Coleman, among others.

His poems also speak to the seriousness of violence against women and children, so this BOOKED is posted at the right time, during the 16 Days.

Flo has been instrumental in building relations among poets in the Johannesburg poetry movement. He orgnised enchanting poetry shows at Cool Runnings (Melville) and at the late Horror cafe in Newtown, and has now moved to Kospotong, also in Newtown. He is a member of LIKWIDTONGUE, a poetry collective that keeps the fire of performance poetry aflame in Johannesburg. When the muse caught up with Flo, he was awaiting the birth of his new baby, as well as reading The Famished Road by Ben Okri.

Poems

I THOUGHT OF…

I thought of writing you a poem about how heavenly and Divine you are,

But the lord beat me to it by creating angelic beings so he can keep a piece of you next to him in heaven.

Then I thought of writing you a poem about your eyes, but the stars beat me to it by mimicking the brightness of your eyes when they shine.

Again I thought of writing you a poem about your lips, but the bees beat me to it by creating sweet honey to replicate the sweetness of your kiss.

Then again I thought of writing you a poem about your smile, but the flowers beat me to it by blossoming and blooming whenever you chose to smile.

Again I thought of writing you a poem about your voice, but the birds beat me to it by imitating your voice in their melodic songs.

Then I thought of writing you a poem about your sadness, but the clouds beat me to it by weeping rain whenever you chose to cry.

Again I thought of writing you a poem about how your presence makes me feel, but Mother Nature beat me to it by painting the rainbow after the storm.

And then I thought of writing you a poem about appreciating you, but the sun and the moon beat me to it by rising to honor you and by the leaves falling at you feet to pay their respect to you.

Then again I thought of writing you a poem about love, but ( bloody) Shakespeare beat me to by writing “shall I compare thee to a summers day…”

Again I thought of writing you a poem about how nice I could treat you if I could have and keep you as my girl, but your man beat me to it by having you first.

Then finally my heart decided to write you a poem and it wrote,

I LOVE YOU.

*

LOVE IS BLIND

She said that looks don’t matter, but she went for the other guy with better looks when I was not looking

And I have to admit it they looked good together

But it looks as if things are not looking good because she doesn’t look back when she sees me looking

And look how he left her not looking so good

And it looks as if looks can be really deceiving

Because she judged her book by the way it looks

I mean she was the apple of my eye

I would catch every tear she’d cry

But she didn’t see it like that, and I hate seeing her like that, when I see she doesn’t like that

When they don’t see eye to eye

When its and eye for an eye

And I guess in their land of the love blind, this one eyed man is king

Who turned a blind eye and stood on the side walk watching

As she got smacked by the hands of her watch, not carrying whose watching

When he should’ve been the one whose watching

Because now it’s a time of ticks and not tocking, ticks and not tocking

And now the windows to her soul are tinted dark blue, and its hard for her to see through and see that I am still looking.

I guess love is really blind.

– Poems copyright Flo Mokale


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BOOKED @ Muse: Nonkululeko Godana

Nonkululeko Godana

Nonkululeko Godana‘s life is affirmed by constantly seeking innovation in the world of literature. This poet-journalist-organiser-entrepreneur is among the founding and organising members of the Poetry in Lokomotion and the So Where To poetry experiences. These platforms helped groom and organise the poetry movement in Johannesburg – and greater South Africa.

“Nonks”, as she is fondly known, was born and raised in Johannesburg, but has recently relocated to the Mother City, where she is channeling her words and creative energy through her company, Well Said Communications.

Nonks cannot stay away from developing youth and being enriched through these experiences – she’s planting into the futures of fertile young minds by facilitating weekly writing and online media workshops and sessions with a group of teenagers as part of an organisation called Students For Humanity, which operates from COSAT (the Centre of Science and Technology) in Khayelitsha.

Recently Nonks also formed a stokvel for women writers to share their experiences in the journey of words. The stokvel’s doings are posted on the blog http://wildwomendo.blogspot.com.

When Muse caught up with Nonks’ flow, she was reading (for reference/interest in psychology, healing and spirituality), Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss, Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and The Dance by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. “And for pure reading pleasure,” she adds, “I’ve just started reading Disgrace by JM Coetzee.”

Nonkululeko Godana

Poem

The prayer they left out…

Our Mother who art(s) all around us
Mama, Mme be your name
Your Queendom has come
Your will be done
And children fed on this earth
For this is our heaven

Give us our daily sunrays of embraces
and summer-rain kisses
and forgive our brother and sister
who bite on the nipple
that feeds them breastmilk
Lead us into bleeding temptation
For this is how we learn

This is your Afrika
If only you realize your power
And rub onto your children’s wounds
Forever and ever…

Ah Mama
Ah Mama!

© Nonkululeko Godana


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BOOKED @ Muse: Khethukubonga “Khethi” Ntshangase

Khethukubonga “Khethi” Ntshangase

Khethukubonga “Khethi” Ntshangase is the poet-singer whose voice infuses the blues and jazz of the likes of Nina Simone with the mbaqanga sounds of our very own of Margaret Xingana. Her experiences on the African continent (Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe…) and beyond have strengthened her perspective and enriched her art, both written and performance work. Khethi has been leaving audiences begging for more at festivals such as Oppikoppi and at the recent Arts & Culture World Summit held in Johannesburg. In Soweto she recently entertained a crowd of about 1000 youths for the StreetPop Industry Sessions, a historical event for the KwaZulu Natal-born songstress and poet as it was “my first public event in Soweto”.

Khethi has been involved with the poetry underground scene since 2002 where she was part of the Soul 2 Mouth poetry collective as well as the founder of The Elevators Creative Concepts, a youth networking forum and publishing house. A selection of her poems can also be found in We Are… A poetry anthology published by Penguin.

After the release of her debut album Xemplify (with songs like “Warrior”, “Why don’t You” and “Lady Tupandve”), Khethi is breaking into many local and international spaces to share and expand her talents. She has lived and worked as resident singer and entertainment coordinator at a hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She also worked for East Africa Radio, co-hosting a breakfast show, and later as creative director and producer for a fashion & lifestyle TV show – broadcasting in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

Here’s the video for “Lady Tupandve”:

YouTube Preview Image

>> If you are in Johannesburg, catch Khethi on Thursday 22nd October at the SABC, V1A room at Radio Park in Auckland Park at 20:00. Follow this link for more: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=613148806#/event.php?eid=132642267877.

Khethi links

Poems

Untitled

They wait impatiently as,
She orders my thoughts, my words to spatter effortlessly
Words intended to somehow make things better
For the souls of those who read (them)

I consider,
How I wish to free these souls with words
Gushing naturally as though there to nourish….
Quench a remarkable thirst they never knew existed
Eventually my words will eradicate greed, salvaging our creed
…and release You to flourish

So knowing what they want, they wait impatiently
From me, right now, they seek poetic justice!
That elaborates in craftily creative phrases
Words there, to somehow, invoke clairvoyance
In the souls of those who read them.

So we can foresee,
How eventually these words will eradicate greed, salvaging our creed
…releasing You to flourish

There, I give you words that meander,
Intended to somehow make things better
For the souls of those who read (them)

copyright: Khethukubonga “Khethi” Ntshangase

*

A poem I wrote for Miriam Makeba and what she represented

She, broke the silence in the darkest of times
People’s minds mesmerized by the bravery in her eyes
As she sweetly sang the blues, she did the wise
Communicating truth, speaking of our painful lives
Injustices, labour law fallacies
Disease tongue spoke foul truths of broken promises
Sweet were kisses as melody releases
The pain and strife of beings with life
Warrior each time

copyright: Khethukubonga “Khethi” Ntshangase


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BOOKED @ Muse: Afurakan

Afurukan

Thabiso Mohare, better known as Afurakan, is the crown prince of Johannesburg’s underground slam poetry. He is best known for his stage improvisations on hip-hop tunes. His style has caught the attention of many slam poets and and writers across Africa with its rhythm and provocative nature.

This is a poet who can cipher with god – and while celebrating the fact that “Blaq people rock” also writes for the miners who beat rock all their lives, for everything that is “less”. His activity within Jozi’s poetry movement can be traced back to the “So where to” poetry events, and his work with the poetry collective Soul 2 Mouth, among others. Afurakan has played a vital role in the growth of the spoken word movement in Johannesburg and indeed South Africa; and he’s a regular at schools and community centres, performing for the purpose of spreading the word.

The past three years have seen Afurakan learn and earn the highs and lows of entrepreneurship through a media and production company. When Muse @ BOOK SA finally caught up with the busy director of Head Gear Media, he had just finished reading The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield and was starting on My Life by the one and only Fidel Castro.

Poems

Today

today
I cried
And with my tears
Fell all the walls around me.
With my tears
Fell all
Expectations prejudice and colour.
Today
My tears
Washed away all memory of my failures
Washed away all memory of my struggles
And all traces of my scars.

Today
I heard poetry
For the first time
It was heavy with accent
Yet, spoke clarity
It spoke words
That drove demons out of me
It unleashed pain from my spirit prison
And fed it to the universe
For she knows how to deal with it
It freed all corners of my mind
And gave me freedom lessons
It painted God as me
And hung my portrait
On the gallery of thought

Today
My world
Lost all shape and form
And what stood before me
Were endless possibilities
Today
My earth was clay
And I was a six year old

Today
I learned how to breathe
And
With every breath
Came fresh hope
With every breath
Came new visions and dreams
With every breath
Came
Time, age and wisdom

Today
I learned
To let go

*

Blaq People Rock

rumour has it
that the roots of rock as we know it,
score whispers of truth,
leave human records unspun,
in the form of, ambition-propelled,
note-streams.

rumour has it
that we, compositions of clay
who speak sand storms
in the dilect of rock
carry scoresheet of origin
as patterns of skin tone.

can u dig?

yeah, i can dig

for we have dug rock
and
played its tragedy on world stages
around necks of legends
between rock-breaks, base kicks and hi-hats,
we have given life and limb
improvised the art of digging rock
yet stand with a fistful of sound
as descendents of soil.

can you rock?

yeah, i can rock
for we have danced bullets
and rocked oppression out of fashion
tatooed rock on the tongue of memory
and now the world sings our name.

and who are we?

we are the under-miners
and under mines
we are undermined
migrant roadies who beat rock
we beat rock
we beat rock
we beat rock
and let the beat rock
with a gumboot beat-box
we let the beat rock

and thru unplugged volumes of rock
ruff jewels bare the rock crushed backs
in pursuite of their destiny to shine
While mine,
Is a legacy of blood
A chorus beneath the earth
Instruments of greed
We compose the riches of rock
Yet sing hunger to the night
My royalty is life
Unspoken it hurts
Buried in a verse
The irony of word
Truth spoken, unheard
On how we still fish the earth
And while you rhyme about platinum and gold
Music is the canvas and we paint secrets untold

When the album is done
And black label satisfies a black labour thirst
We play a new rhythm
Back stage, while you toast statues of our labour
We play a new rhythm
We beat rock and
Let the beat rock
We beat rock and
With a gumboot beat-box
We let the beat rock

*

Cypher

I stood in a cipher with God
and all he seemed to speak about was rotating planets and stars
I stood in a cipher with God
and all he seemed to speak about was separating light from the dark,
barbeques on the sun and leaving a burning candle on the moon

Thor was his beat-box and Moses was keeping score on 2 four-cornered stones
his accomplice was a four headed shadow which seemed to bump it’s head in every direction
and the spying Ra, listened from a distance in anticipation
he started talking about me and I thought he was dissing
but actually he was explaining the philosophy behind me
see, God is the wizard and I’m his magical bag of tricks
all he needs to is think and I spit
and we don’t need blunts to reach the highest ultimate level of thought
coz we smoke life rolled up in papyrus leaves
blow out smoke rings and let them hang around Saturn planets

then suddenly Thor changed the beat

Thor changed the beat and 21 angels joined in
we opened up the cipher so the rest of hell could move in
flames sparked the cipher from this fiery creature claiming he was a battle cat
he started dissing but God ignored him,
I asked why, he said “nah, I’ll let Gabriel handle that “
he called me the first son of man and kept on repeating that
the Armageddon was only a punch-line away,
the Armageddon was only a punch-line away
but how could it be, he had promised me that we would cipher into eternity
then deciding that he was out of my league,
he brought Moses in to battle me

now Moses was from the old school and was known to battle only with 10 lines
but could simultaneously project his voice to transmit through 10 mics
10 times, now that’s 10 lives
10 mc’s embarrassed and taken out at the same time
the cipher was getting hot and I had to battle back,
so looking at Moses I was like

You are not an m.c
even if I was the red sea and you were a staff
You still couldn’t split me
Don’t even look at me
You need to live another century to be raw enough to battle me
And I’m the prodigal son out of the crowd you misled
And I’m back to make swallow every word you ever said
Even on Noah’s ark you wouldn’t survive regardless
I’ll make you write AFURAKAN as the eleventh commandment

The beat stopped as Thor had swallowed his electrical tongue
and all corners of the universe seemed to fold in
too dumb-struck to react, Moses collapsed face flat
as the 21 angels hung their heads in shame
and fell on my knees at God’s feet

Our father, please forgive me for I have killed one of your sons
Please forgive me for I have killed one of me

My tongue was then imprisoned for 21 reincarnations
only then can I cipher with God again
only then can I truly be me, again

Photo courtesy Kagablog


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