It’s been nearly a year since my first book of short stories in Filipino, Sanga sa Basang Lupa at iba pang kuwento, was quietly released. A few months ago it joined other titles from the same publisher, UST Publishing House, in a group launch.
I finally found time to put up a Goodreads.com page for the book. Dreaming one day of seeing this little paper child translated to English for a wider audience. Help me dream some more.
p.s. I designed the cover! I found that branch that looks like a snake while I was taking my kids for a walk around Tygerberg Nature Reserve. The blue cloth was part of a massive roll of lovely fabric that my wife and I found during our travels in Indonesia (long before the kids were born!).
Some people have little care for words. Some learn a few that stick to them like bubblegum to orange hair, they end up using the same words over and over on television or Twitter. Surprisingly, one such person apparently managed to convince millions, mesmerised by his words, to vote him into power.
I don’t pretend to know more words than the average writer, but I try to care for the words that I let go, the words I allow to land on a page. In a world that seems to be increasingly overtaken by the loud and forceful, rather than those who seek truth and a common humanity, one has to be thankful for being read at all.
I previously posted links to the first review of WINGS OF SMOKE. I am delighted and deeply humbled by another review that has just been published at Aerodrome. Endless thanks to South African poet Christine Coates for her very kind words toward my latest paper child.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Wings of Smoke (The Onslaught Press, UK, 2017) is Agustin’s latest poetry collection, launched in the UK and worldwide in February 2017. The book may be ordered via the publisher’s website – www.onslaughtpress.com – and Amazon. It will be made available in South Africa from March 2017 mainly through the author who will be reading and launching the book at various venues: at the Writing for Liberty Conference at the Centre for the Book on 28 March, at Off the Wall (A Touch of Madness Restaurant) in Observatory on 30 March and at Kalk Bay Books on 4 April. More readings are to follow during the year.
photo from the Twitter account of ENCA
So, another year, another chance for Zuma to hypnotize us into submission. This year is likely to be the same as the past few years. With a few slightly different details such as the presence of 441 members (odd number, that) of the South African National Defense Force being deployed at Parliament in Cape Town, along with the restrictions on press movement (they get their own pen – perhaps without a pig, hopefully with ink) while covering the expected pomp (include all the negative things that word might conjure) and… yawning.
We poor citizens will have to use our rich imagination to entertain ourselves while being tortured and shown the prospect for another grim year under this man who has nearly 800 counts of corruption charges the National Prosecuting Authority should file but just won’t.
Here’s a suggestion. That photo. That hand behind Zuma. Imagine those fingers folding two while holding the middle one straight. Raise that hand. Aim at Zuma’s bald head. Then make him turn his head to that middle finger.
Feel a little better? Now aside from this exercise, get to work. Prove to him this country can be better without him sitting and laughing at us as if we were all fools.
I’ve got a new paper child about to be born – WINGS OF SMOKE. I’ll write about it in the next few days, I hope. “Veins Cut Open” is one of the poems, it was first published in the Sol Plaatje EU Award Anthology. I recorded an audio reading of it – instead of just posting the text – to give you an idea of what’s in the book. Well, I just felt like it. haha. Tell me what you think.
I don’t have a great voice, I admit. But it’s the only one I have. Although I do drive my kids nuts when I take on various voices, sometimes singing made up lyrics of some language plucked out of nowhere.
So HERE IS THE SOUNDCLOUD LINK.
I have far too many things on my mind these days, more troubles than joys. But one poem just got published by Eclectica Magazine, and so I’ll take that as a blessing.
Thank you to the kind editors for giving space for my work.
Please read the poem “Tekla at the Grand Parade” and the others featured by this long-running online journal.
That seems to be the only logic behind Zuma’s axing of Nhlanhla Nene as Finance Minister. From the broken pieces of this ship he’s surely sinking, Zuma promises to build a new South Africa – perhaps with China cheering him on.
The announcement came just as the so-called 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Children was coming to a dismal closure (from 25 November to 10 December, Human Rights Day). Zuma tells us to take his word for it, to trust him though he fails to explain why someone who has stood to fight corruption by taking on the untouchable Dudu Myeni is being shown the back door with the lights turned off down a dark alley. Maybe Nene is just one more obstacle removed so the Russian nuclear deal can push through. Will there be anyone bold enough to take on the shady dealings with petroleum corporations (led by Shell) and the proposed (already approved under the table?) fracking of the Karoo?
Zuma, even before he stepped into those big shoes Mandela left (and Mbeki who was ordered to go barefoot), set the local newspapers (and got international coverage, too!) on fire for months with the story of an alleged rape of a friend’s daughter. One has to remember he took a shower. Then there was the Schabir Shaik trial which magically left Zuma unscathed and apparently even revitalized, no, emboldened. The blood from Marikana miners didn’t seem to taint him either. The famed firepool of Nkandla must have some magical powers (interesting links here).
Is it just us who are mad to imagine there is even a sinking ship? All along we’ve witnessed things that were too hard to believe. Yet they keep happening.
My very good friend who showed me around Durban back in November, a day after the 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award, said Zuma is considered by his countless supporters to be a prophet. Perhaps there is no crisis. Only non-believers.
More Important than the Country
Is it possible to sleep
in a house on fire?
A shower alone
will not douse the flames.
Locking the doors to keep
everyone else out
may not be the most clever
thing to do. Mr. President,
the swimming pool
will not save those shiny
thoughts you hold
so dearly in your head.
LINK to Daily Maverick article.
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?
And yes, I’ve admired her work ever since I first listened to Debut. She and Nina Simone were my musical companions as I learned to cope with my unexpected move from Manila to Cape Town in 1994. More on that period later.
What I am posting here is a set of poems from A THOUSAND EYES. Enjoy and I hope to hear from you!
Thanks for being part of this journey.
YOUR VOICE YOUR HAND YOUR EYES MY WORDS published poems A THOUSAND EYES
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.