October 1994 was the first time I had a glimpse of Langa. From the air, as the domestic plane which brought me from Johannesburg descended toward Cape Town International, Langa looked like a massive quilt with uneven stitching.
Each time I leave and return to Cape Town I would see that imposing landscape. Yet I never set foot there, not until last Thursday, 17 May 2018. I drove to Langa for an event organised by the Jacana Literary Foundation to meet with local aspiring poets. It was a hastily put together affair, and despite the initial awkwardness it turned out into an eye-opening impromptu performance/sharing/workshop with all participants ending up laughing together as though we’d known each other for years.
Fellow poets Moses Seletisha (First Prize winner of the 2017 Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award) and Rabbie Serumula were also there to share their thoughts and amazing words.
I read two poems by other poets and then one of my own (one of the three that was included in The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology VII).
Today I’ll share the one called “Lament for a Dead Cow” which I discovered by accident in the anthology Sunburst.
The three poems shorlisted for the 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award are now up at BooksLIVE. My poem, though, does not appear as it should be. So I am posting it here as a PDF for interested readers. I first read the poem a few months ago in front of a small but warm audience in Observatory, Cape Town when I was invited at OFF THE WALL by Hugh Hodge.
Click the following link to read my poem as it should look:
Baleka, What do You Know of Tenders and Thieves, Or Cockroaches for that Matter?
The Jacana Literary Foundation is pleased to announce the 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award winners.
From the longlist of poems selected by a jury of distinguished South African poets, senior judge Dr Mongane Wally Serote, winner of the prestigious Golden Wreath Award, has selected the three finalists for this year’s Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award.
In no particular order, the three shortlisted poems are:
• Jim Pascual Agustin, for ‘Baleka, What do You Know of Tenders and Thieves? Or Cockroaches for that Matter?’
• Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese, for ‘A Portrait of a Mother and Indiscretion’
• Athol Williams, for ‘Streetclass Diseases’
The winners will all receive cash prizes.
How these poems have been placed, and the overall winner, will be announced at an event hosted by Poetry Africa at 18:00 on 17 October 2015 at Rivertown Beerhall in Durban.
The anthology will be launched at 15:00 on the same day, at 8 Morrison Street, Durban.
CLICK THIS LINK TO ENLARGE: Sol Plaatje 2015
Photo from The Guardian
Someone declares “Bleed your people, for they deserve to learn that gods need to be appeased.”
Another says “See how straight the strings of these puppets. Their limbs jerk with the slightest twitch of our wrists. You must learn from them.”
The chief who was chosen by his own people stares them down, eyes unflinching. He may not know tomorrow, but he knows yesterday. And he stands today, not alone among those who dare to imagine another way of breathing.
Meanwhile, pensioners are shot and robbed in one place, and in another, a man in a wheelchair – not the first – robs a bank.
There are many ways of hurting. There are countless ways of coming together again.
I need to tell you how everything went on the night of 4 November 2014 at the Goethe Institut in Johannesburg. But it’s going to take me some time. I also want to tell you a lot of other things that made the brief trip way better than I ever expected.
For now, I want to congratulate my new friends and fellow winners of the 2014 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award – Rochelle Jacobs and Thabo Jijana! You guys are amazing people and I hope to meet up with you soon again.
Here is a LINK to the press release from the fantastic people of Jacana Media.
And this was my home made pin for the event, up close.
Jacana Media has generously made available the three poems up for the 2014 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award. HERE is the link. My poem, “Illegal, Undocumented,” is part of my manuscript SKY FOR SILENT WINGS (or OSAMA, YOU ARE NOW OPEN COUNTRY… or THE MAN WHO WISHED HE WAS LEGO… yup, I still haven’t made up my mind which title to use, and neither has my fictitious publisher decided to accept it or not… maybe I should dream of another publisher?).
original image from Wikimedia
Checkers is one of the big supermarket chains here in SA. They must have to deal with massive numbers of people who come to their premises – mainly to do their shopping, one hopes. Security, a word that means the opposite in some (most?) cases, has become a major concern to most businesses in this country, particularly as the holiday season approaches. The rise of armed robberies at shopping malls is a disturbing reality that shoppers here now face. In fact, one such incident had taken place just a few weeks ago at the particular mall we frequent.
This post has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the way I must have looked to the personnel monitoring the security screens at a Checkers when my beaten up cellphone notified me of an email. My daughter who was standing next to me thought her father had gone bonkers. I was trying very hard not to jump up and down. I was also beaming at every stranger who walked past. I was, to put it mildly, overwhelmed by a most unexpected news.
The official announcement has just been released, so I am posting it here. I have been warned that maybe I am blowing my own horn… sometimes a little too loudly. I want to think of it as sharing some good news. Here it is. Books LIVE has the same announcement up.
Doors close, doors open.
I sent an entry very late for this prestigious South African poetry competition, the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award, but was lucky enough to be included in the “longlist” which means my poems now have a place in the anthology. They didn’t quite make it to the finals, let alone the “shortlist.” Hmmm… all these lists. 🙂
But who am I to complain? I’ve never gotten any award for my writing until this year with the DALRO. Before this, the only other claim to recognition I had was when my book, Baha-bahagdang Karupukan, was a finalist at the National Book Awards in the Philippines. I am always thankful for any chance to share my work with readers, and any recognition such as these are just extra ego boost. Something to make you feel better when there is so little else to be happy about.
The three poems in the anthology are rather new. They are part of a nine-poem cycle called “Endings are Beginnings” which is the closing section for one of the manuscripts I am still working on. My copy of the anthology hasn’t arrived, so this image is straight out of the Jacana website.
Congratulations to Kobus Moolman who won First Prize, and to Vonani Bila (editor for New Coin!) and Nedine Moonsamy who won Second and Third respectively!
Maybe next year I’ll get up one rung higher. hahahaha. Ever hopeful. 🙂 Then perhaps a book deal from a South African publisher… keep dreaming. I will have to keep on making noise then.