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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Announcing the shortlist for the 2016 Gerald Kraak Award for African writers and artists

 
The Jacana Literary Foundation and The Other Foundation have announced the African writers and artists shortlisted for the inaugural Gerald Kraak Award.

Drawn from a range of African countries, these written and photographic pieces on the topics of gender, human rights and sexuality on our continent represent a new wave of fresh storytelling.

The shortlist will comprise the resultant anthology, titled Pride and Prejudice, which will be published and distributed by Jacana Media and its project partners across Africa in May 2017.

Judges Sisonke Msimang (chair), Eusebius McKaiser and Sylvia Tamale reviewed close on 400 anonymous individual entries over the past four months in order to select the 14 pieces for the shortlist.

Msimang says:

In the current political environment, we are hopeful that expressions like the ones we have chosen – that do not shy away from pain but that are also deeply inventive – find their way into the public consciousness. We think Gerald Kraak would have smiled at a number of these entries, and above all, we have aimed to stay true to his love of fearless writing and support of courageous and grounded activism.

In alphabetical order by surname, here are the shortlisted authors and entries, and short judges’ notes:

  • Poached Eggs by Farah Ahamed (Fiction, Kenya)

A subtle, slow and careful rendering of the everyday rhythms of domestic terror that pays homage to the long history of women’s resistance; yet with wit and humour and grit, the story also sings of freedom, of resistance and the desire to be unbound.

  • A Place of Greater Safety by Beyers de Vos (Journalism, South Africa)

Covers, with empathy and real curiosity and knowledge, underground issues that are seldom discussed in the South African LGBT+ movement – homelessness, poverty, as well as attraction and violence.

  • Midnight in Lusikisiki or The Ruin of the Gentlewomen by Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese (Poetry, South Africa)

This poem hums with sadness and sings with anger. It is full of the sort of melancholy that marks the passing of something very important. It provides an opportunity to connect the themes of gender this collection takes so seriously, with issues of poverty and political corruption.

  • Two Weddings for Amoit by Dilman Dila (Fiction, Uganda)

A fresh piece of sci-fi, written in a clear and bright way, that surprisingly draws on covert and subversive love.

  • Albus by Justin Dingwall (Photography, South Africa)

The choice of exquisitely beautiful high-fashion models to represent people with albinism – who are so often depicted as unattractive, as others – is just breath-taking. It makes its point and leaves you wanting more.

  • For Men Who Care by Amatesiro Dore (Fiction, Nigeria)

A complex and thoughtful insight into a part of elite Nigerian life, as well as the ways in which buying into certain brands of patriarchy can be so deeply damaging – and have direct and unavoidable consequences.

  • Resurrection by Tania Haberland (Poetry, Mauritius)

An erotic poem that is powerful in its simple celebration of the clit.

  • Intertwined Odyssey by Julia Hango (Photography, South Africa)

A solid and thought-provoking collection. The range of poses force questions about power. The photos make the lovers (or are they fighters?) equal in their nakedness and in their embodiment of discomfort.

  • Dean’s Bed by Dean Hutton (Photography, South Africa)

An important contribution to conversations about bisexuality, attraction, age and race.

  • On Coming Out by Lee Mokobe (Poetry, South Africa)

Literal and lyrical, this powerful poem draws one in through its style and accessibility.

  • You Sing of a Longing by Otosirieze Obi-Young (Fiction, Nigeria)

A thoroughly modern epic but with bones as old as time. This is a story of love and betrayal and madness and music that is all the more beautiful for its plainspoken poignancy. Yet there is prose in here that steals your breath away.

  • The Conversation by Olakunle Ologunro (Fiction, Nigeria)

Provides valuable insight into issues of intimate partner violence, family acceptance and the complexity of gender roles in many modern African contexts.

  • One More Nation Bound in Freedom by Ayodele Sogunro (Academic, Nigeria)

An informative piece that gives a crisp and “objective” voice to the many themes that cut across this anthology.

  • Stranger in a Familiar Land by Sarah Waiswa (Photography, Kenya)

This collection of photos showcases the best of African storytelling. The images take risks, and speak to danger and subversion. At the same time they are deeply rooted in places that are familiar to urban Africans. The woman in this collection is a stand-in for all of us.

The winner, who receives a cash prize, will be announced at an award ceremony in May 2017, hosted by The Other Foundation and attended by the authors of the top three submissions as well as the judging panel and project partners.

For more information visit www.jacana.co.za or email awards@jacana.co.za.

This project is made possible in partnership with The Other Foundation: www.theotherfoundation.org.

 

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2016 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award announced – a second win for Athol Williams

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Athol Williams has won the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award this year, for the second time, for his poem “Visit at Tea Time”.

Athol WilliamsWilliams is a poet and social philosopher from Cape Town. He is the chairman of Read to Rise, a youth literacy NGO that he co-founded after many years as a business strategy advisor. His poems have been published in anthologies and literary journals in the UK, USA and South Africa and he has published three poetry collections. He is also the author of the Oaky series of inspirational children’s books, and Pushing Boulders, his memoir, was published this month.

 
Williams grew up in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town and has been educated at Oxford, Harvard, MIT, LSE, London Business School and Wits University.

As the winner he receives a cash prize and, for the first time this year, a three-week residency at the NIROX Foundation in the Cradle of Humankind, which includes fully serviced accommodation in a beautiful studio, free full board, and a serene environment in which Athol can focus solely on his craft. We are delighted to be able to add this rare privilege to the award.

The NIROX Foundation was established to foster the arts in their widest sense. Poetry was from inception within our diverse focus, but it is a quiet craft that can often be overshadowed by its popular siblings – the visual and musical arts, for which NIROX is best known. And so it is a great pleasure for the Foundation to make a residency available to the winner of this year’s Sol Plaatje Award. We hope that this is the start of a long association. Athol Williams is a worthy winner. We look forward to the opportunity of working with him amongst our other artists in residence in the coming year.

- The NIROX Foundation

The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology 2011The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IVThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology

 

The runners-up, who also received cash prizes, are Siphokazi Jonas, in second place for her poem “MamBhele’s Harvest” and Charles Marriott, in third place for his poem “Cape Town”.

The award ceremony took place on Sunday, 9 October, at the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival in Newtown. Senior judge and chairperson of the Jacana Literary Foundation (which administers the competition and publishes the related anthology in partnership with Jacana Media), Professor Mongane Wally Serote, as well as the European Union Ambassador Designate, His Excellency Marcus Cornaro, presented the prizes to the winners during the event. A wonderful poetry performance by longlisted poets Zewande Bhengu, Siphokazi Jonas, B-Lyrical, Thabiso Mohare, Pieter Odendaal and Kori Strange, as part of the 6th Word N Sound International Youth Poetry Festival, kicked off the proceedings.

The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award aims to reveal the political and social attitudes of our time. The annual Award, supported by the European Union, is now in its sixth year. Named after Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (1876-1932), it recognises the life and vision of this highly respected political and social activist. As in previous years, Volume 6 of the series anthologises the three winning poems (selected by the iconic poet Serote) along with some 90 other longlisted poems in Afrikaans, English, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, isiXhosa and isiZulu and accompanied by English translations where relevant (selected by a jury of three notable South African poets: Goodenough Mashego, Thabiso “Afurakan” Mohare and Pieter Odendaal). The submissions are judged blind.

The anthology was launched at the same event.

 
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2016 Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award shortlist announced

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The shortlist for the 2016 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award has been revealed.

From the longlist of poems selected by this year’s judging panel for publication in volume 6 of the anthology, Professor Mongane Wally Serote (chair of both the panel and the Jacana Literary Foundation) has selected the three finalists.

The shortlist includes last year’s winner, Athol Williams.

Serote, a Black Consciousness icon, poet and writer, is a renowned member of the Soweto poets – a group which advocated for black literary voices in South Africa during the tumultuous 1970s. His poems of that time speak of the realities of apartheid, and have been invaluable in provoking thought about oppression, as well as capturing the truths of the era.

Similarly, the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award aims to reveal the political and social attitudes of our time.

“These South African poets have understood something,” Serote says. “They hold the present by the scruff of the neck and threaten it. If this nation has not revolted, it is evolving to revolt, the poets say. The present cannot hold, the poets keep saying. Like healers, they sing, beat the drums and dance to the rhythm of their tongues.”

In alphabetical order, the 2016 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award shortlist:

  • “Cape Town” by Charles Marriott
  • “Mambhele’s Harvest” by Siphokazi Jonas
  • “Visit at Tea Time” by Athol Williams
The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology 2011The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IVThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology

 

How these poems have placed and the overall winner will be announced and cash prizes awarded (R6,000 for first place, R4,000 for second place and R2,000 for third place) at an event at the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival on Sunday, 9 October at 11:30 AM.

The Litfest will take place at Sci-Bono in Newtown, Johannesburg, on 8 and 9 October. Tickets are R50 a session, with half-price discounts for students and pensioners (R25 a ticket). Tickets will be on sale at the venue on the day.

There is a significant nod to South African literary history in the Litfest, marking the 140th anniversary of the birth of Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (1876-1932), the highly respected political and social activist after whom this award is named.

For more information, contact the Jacana Literary Foundation on awards@jacana.co.za.

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Longlist for the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award announced

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The longlist for the 2016 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award has been revealed.

The longlisted poems are in a range of South Africa’s official languages, and will all appear in volume six of the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology.

They were anonymously selected by judges Goodenough Mashego, Thabiso Mohare and Pieter Odendaal.

Congratulations to all of the poets whose work was nominated!

The Jacana Literary Foundations says:

Each year we are awed by the enthusiasm of South Africa’s poets and your overwhelming support of this project, and would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who entered their poetry.

The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology 2011The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IVThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology

 

A shortlist of three poems from this list will be selected by Professor Mongane Wally Serote and announced on 24 September, National Heritage Day. The winner and placing will be revealed at the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival in Johannesburg on 9 October.

Prizes are awarded to the shortlist:

  • 1st place: R6,000
  • 2nd place: R4,000
  • 3rd place: R2,000

 
In alphabetical order by surname, the longlisted poems and poets are:

(*Highly commended)

HOTNOTS-KÁNON, Caroline F. Archer *
BATTLEGROUND, Mutinta Bbenkele *
EDEN’S KNELL, Tanisha Bhana
IN THE MOOD TO MONKEY, Zéwande Bk Bhengu *
KLEEDREPETISIE, Rene Bohnen *
PIPE DREAM, Kathryn Clare Botes
THE THIRST, Dianne Case
TERRA NULLIUS – THE MARIKANA SYMPHONY, Christine Coates
WINTER COLD, Bella (B-Lyrical) Cox *
CHOKING, Bella (B-Lyrical) Cox
ALL CHANGE, Lise Day
THE ARCHBISHOP’S LAMENT, Graham Dukas
METAMORPHOSIS, Graham Dukas
THE PLACE OF THE JACKAL, Elaine Edwards
IN RESPONSE TO SEEING AN AFRICAN WOMAN ABBA A DOG ON FACEBOOK, Connie Fick *
RE KWALA TSE DI SWA, Tshepo Gaerupe
HLAL’ APH’ EMZINI NGOB’ IINKOMO ZIYATHETHA, Nobuntu Gantana *
WEEKLY SERVICE, Siphokazi Jonas *
I AM BEAUTIFUL, Fiona Khan
CLASS, Musawenkosi Khanyile
CHURCH, Musawenkosi Khanyile *
OMRING, Lara Kirsten *
RIBBONS ON THE FENCE, Lynne Kloot
NTSO YAMATHILE, Nomnikelo Komanisi
THERE’S A ME THAT’S STILL NOT FREE, Portia Mabaso
MOTHERS, WARN YOUR DAUGHTERS OF GAY LOVE, Portia Mabaso
HIP HOP, Songeziwe Mahlangu
APARTHEID IN THE SKY, Patrick Maitland
THEY CAME, Patrick Maitland
SALUTE TO KLIPSPRUIT RIVER, Maishe Maponya
THE TRC – ON THE BOX, Maishe Maponya
THE POWER-POINT POET, Maishe Maponya
CAPE TOWN, Charles Marriott *
JOHANNES SI BHEKE, Kela Maswabi *
UPHAHLA, Zongezile Theophilus Matshoba
GO DIKGAITŠEDI TŠA LEFSIFSI, Katise Mawela
IKASI LAMI, Ongezwa Mbele
PUINHOOP, Marthé Mcloud
HO THABA BA ILENG, Thabiso Mofokeng
DIFAQANE, Maneo Refiloe Mohale
GAUTA O JA BATHO, Tsietsi Mokhele *
YET MORE STONES, George Momogos
VERGANGENHEITSBEWAELTIGUNG, Jackie Mondi
A HUNGRY STOMACH HAS NO EARS, Jackie Mondi
VARIATIONS IN COLOUR, Nedine Moonsamy
LANIWANI, Moses Mtileni *
THE HOUSE WE BUILT, Sifiso Mtshali
TO MOS DEF IN THE WOOLWORTHS QUEUE, Nick Mulgrew *
FOUR MINUTES, Luthando Ncayiyana
THE BARKSOLE MAN, Pamela Newham
TO THOSE FLUTTERING BEINGS, Mandla Robert Ngakane
NOT ANOTHER NURSE’S TALE, Mandla Robert Ngakane
A THANKLESS LABOUR, Vuyokazi Ngemntu
THEY NEVER DIED, Bomikazi Njoloza
ILIZWE LAM, Amanda Nodada
CASSETTE, Sihle Ntuli
REFLECTION, Lazola Pambo
LIKE A LOG, Jim Pascual Agustin
BLACK JOY, Koleka Putuma *
RESURRECTION, Koleka Putuma *
BEDTIME STORIES FOR OUR LITTLE GIRLS, Sibongile Ralana
A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS, Sibongile Ralana
POWER, Arja Salafranca
COLLATERAL DAMAGE, Ferdie Schaller
THE BURNING MAN, Ferdie Schaller *
BOOTS FOR LITTLE BOYS, Ferdie Schaller
OOGAF, Karin Schimke
UNCLE TOM, Kori Sefeane
AUSCHWITZ, Kori Sefeane
FIX ME, Sinazo Somhlahlo
A REVOLUTION, Caitlin Spring
MINE WILL BE OF AFRICA, David C. Steyn
EVEN BIRDS, Caitlin Stobie
REFUGEE 70, Louella Sullivan
THEATRE OF HEARTS, Elizabeth Trew
STHANDWA SAM’, Lesego Tsoho
NGIYABONGA MAMA, Lesego Tsoho
IN MY CUPBOARD, Troydon Wainwright
A WEDDING POEM, Troydon Wainwright
INVESTMENT RETURNS, Athol Williams
VISIT AT TEA TIME, Athol Williams *
MISSING, Sue Woodward

For more information, contact the Jacana Literary Foundation on awards@jacana.co.za.

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2016 Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award and Anthology – entries open

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Entries for the sixth annual Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award and Anthology are now open! The project is made possible thanks to the ongoing support of the European Union. The Jacana Literary Foundation is also thrilled to welcome on board the Mail & Guardian this year, who will join in on the sixth Award, as we celebrate the anniversary of Sol Plaatje’s 140th birthday.

Up to three poems in any of South Africa’s official languages can be submitted via the online entry form. Entrants are encouraged to submit poems written in their mother tongue. Entries will close at 8 AM on Friday, 29 July.

The work submitted is judged blind, by a panel of four esteemed poets. As in previous years, a longlist of the best entries received will be published in Volume 6 of the anthology. A shortlist of three poets is selected from the longlist, and those finalists will be invited to attend an event at the seventh annual Mail & Guardian Literary Festival in early October, where the winner will be announced and cash prizes awarded.

Named after Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (1876-1932), the Award recognises the life and vision of this highly respected political and social activist. We always hope that it reveals the political and social attitudes of our time, and reflects the complex, nuanced and uncomfortable truths of life in South Africa, and thus poems which reflect our current realities are warmly welcomed.

For more information, contact the Jacana Literary Foundation on awards@jacana.co.za

The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology 2011The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IVThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology

Prizes:

  • A shortlist of three poets will be selected by the judging panel. They will be invited to attend an awards ceremony and book launch at the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival on 9 October, 2016 in Johannesburg.
  • Prizes are awarded to the shortlist:

    1st place: R6,000
    2nd place: R4,000
    3rd place: R2,000

  • A longlist of the best poems entered will be selected by the judging panel, and published in Volume 6 of the anthology, which will be launched at the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival.

Rules:

  • Entries open at 5 PM on Friday, 15 July and close at 8 AM on Friday, 29 July.
  • Poems in the 11 official languages of South Africa are accepted.
  • Poets may enter in more than one language.
  • Entrants must be South African citizens residing in South Africa.
  • Poems submitted may not have appeared in any publication, online (including blogs and social media) or in print. Only unpublished poetry is accepted.
  • Intertextuality and references must be appropriately attributed.
  • A maximum of three poems may be entered, although one or two poems per author is also acceptable.
  • If you are entering more than one poem, please ensure that they are each saved and uploaded as separate Word documents.
  • Poems must not exceed 100 lines.
  • Poems must be submitted as a Word document – doc or docx files. No other file formats are accepted.
  • Please ensure that the poet’s name does not appear on the Word document. It should only include the title and poem.
  • The file name should be the title of the poem.
  • Ariel size 11 or Times New Roman size 12 fonts are preferred. No “fancy” fonts, borders or images should be included on the Word document.
  • Handwritten entries are not eligible.

Declaration and permissions:

By entering, the poet declares that the entry is their original work and neither whole nor part of their poem has been published previously. They give permission for the publication of their poem in the anthology, without payment, if longlisted. Poets agree to have their work translated into English for adjudication and publication purposes.

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Attention African writers and photographers: Submissions for The Gerald Kraak Award and Anthology now open

From the Jacana Literary Foundation:

 
Submissions are now open for The Gerald Kraak Award and Anthology on the topics of gender, human rights and sexuality for a range of writing genres and photography.

The Jacana Literary Foundation (JLF), in partnership with The Other Foundation, invite writers, journalists, academics, bloggers, poets and photographers to submit for consideration exceptional works – published or unpublished – which explore, interrogate and celebrate the topics of gender, sexuality and human rights.

Rather than general discussions of these subjects, the judging panel seeks pieces which engage with gender and sexuality in ways that promote new insights into human rights matters on our continent.

Only the very best work submitted will be shortlisted and published in an anthology, with the winners to be announced at a 2017 award ceremony, hosted by The Other Foundation and attended by the authors of the top three submissions. The overall winner will receive a cash prize of R25,000.

Our aim is to ensure that the anthology and information about the award will be disseminated as widely as possible throughout the African continent. To this end, Africa World Press (Ethiopia), Amalion (Senegal), FEMRITE (Uganda), Kwani (Kenya), Weaver Press (Zimbabwe) and Word Weaver (Namibia) will be associated with this project. Other publishing houses based in Africa with an interest in participating are also encouraged to contact us.

RULES

The subject matter of the work must relate to gender, human rights and/or sexuality in Africa.

Works which fall within one of the following categories are accepted:

  • fiction
  • non-fiction
  • poetry
  • photography / photographic essays
  • journalism / magazine reporting
  • scholarly articles in academic journals and book chapters / extracts
  • social media / blog writings and contributions

 
Entries must have been created by a citizen of an African country, who lives and works on the continent.

Written submissions must be in English.

  • Up to three entries are permitted per author, across categories. Each entry must be submitted on a separate electronic entry form.
  • Materials must not exceed 15,000 words or 10 images.
  • We are looking for work which tells a story or illustrates an idea. If one photograph achieves this, then we welcome the submission of that single image. It is, however, more likely to be accomplished through a collection of photographs or a photographic essay.
  • No handwritten or hard copy entries can be considered. Submissions must be made via the web link specified below.
  • Entries must include a short biography (100 words maximum) and contact details. These should not be included on the work being submitted, as the award is judged blind and the author remains anonymous until the shortlist has been selected.
  • Submissions are considered to implicitly indicate the entrant’s permission for their work to be published in the anthology, if shortlisted, for no payment or royalty.

 

Closing date: 31 July 2016
Shortlist announced: 15 December 2016

 
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Aspiring authors: Don’t miss Jacana Media’s new creative writing Masterclass series

Invitation to Jacana Media's Writing Masterclasses

 

Jacana Media will be running a series of Masterclasses for aspiring writers in 2016.

All Masterclasses will be held on a Thursday at the Jacana offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, and are held by a published author or publisher.

The cost of the class includes a copy of the author’s latest book.

Diarise these dates now!

Masterclass Details

  • Venue: Jacana Media
    10 Orange Street
    Auckland Park
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Cost: R60 for students and pensioners, R100 for adults (includes a copy of the author’s latest book)
  • RSVP: Janine Daniel, janine@jacana.co.za

Bitches' BrewZulu Boy Gone Crazy: Hilarious Tales Post Polokwane

  • Masterclass Presenter: Fred Khumalo
  • Date: Thursday, 25 February 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
The Book of WarWalk

  • Masterclass Presenter: James Whyle
  • Date: Thursday, 31 March 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
What Will People Say

  • Masterclass Presenter: Rehana Rossouw
  • Date: Thursday, 21 April 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
Dub Steps

  • Masterclass Presenter: Andrew Miller
  • Date: Thursday, 26 May 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
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  • Masterclass Presenter: Klara Skinner
  • Date: Thursday, 30 June 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
Sweet Medicine

  • Masterclass Presenter: Panashe Chigumadzi
  • Date: Thursday, 28 July 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
To Every Birth Its BloodRevelations

  • Masterclass Presenter: Mongane Wally Serote
  • Date: Thursday, 25 August 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
African DelightsWhen a Man Cries

  • Masterclass Presenter: Siphiwo Mahala
  • Date: Thursday, 29 September 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

 
 
 
 
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For Twitchers and Lovers of Poetry: The Laughing Dove and Other Poems by Vernon RL Head (Plus: Read an Excerpt)

 
The Laughing Dove and other PoemsJacana Media is proud to announce The Laughing Dove and Other Poems by Vernon RL Head:

The Laughing Dove and Other Poems is a collection that celebrates the natural world and our delicate place at the very edge of wilderness. Head sees like a birdwatcher and his unique arrangements of words shape a wondrous fact: Nature waits in the everyday: the freshness of a pavement-city-tree; the smoothness of a rock in a stream of pain; the holes and hopes between the planted flowers of a garden; the thorns of light that make the Karoo; the sea and its need to find the land.

These poems have audacity and wisdom; even at their quietest they are as deft and spry as the smallest birds. They are poems made from an observed life, and a world seen with the naked eye; you can tell that their author is practised at that patient, long, penetrating, and then quite startling vision.
– PR Anderson

Head is an important new poet. His poems are exuberant, romantic and revolutionary. Have a sneak peek at two of the poems in the anthology:

Poets
 
Why do some poets             hop
Their words around a page,
Cheating the phrase?
The little bird: a flitting leaf,
Torn, tinkling on the branch-bounce,
Yet surely
 
 
 
 
falling.

Airliner

Clouds seen from above are irrelevantly bright,
But below, blue ideas move deep shades
On the green fields of Johannesburg.
Soft moments of ground:
Opportunities for cool thought and
Delicious, lost wanderings.
No more flights for me,
Time to walk.

About the poet

Vernon RL Head was born in 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa. He grew up in a bungalow near the sea and the gulls. He studied architecture, winning national and international awards for design and creative thinking. He is past chairman of BirdLife South Africa, one of Africa’s biggest and most influential conservation organisations, and presently serves on the Advisory Board of the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology (UCT). He is author of the critically acclaimed bestseller The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World. When not writing, he is either designing special buildings or travelling the world looking for the rarest birds. This is his first collection of poetry.

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Poetry Offers Us a Language When Our Other Languages Fail – 2015 Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award Winner Athol Williams

Athol Williams wins the 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award for "Streetclass Diseases"
The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology 2011The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IVThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology

 
Athol Williams was recently announced as the winner of the fifth Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award for his poem “Streetclass Diseases”. He was not able to attend the ceremony in Johannesburg, as he is currently based in the UK, but he has shared some thoughts about the award and poetry in general.

Williams is a poet and social philosopher from Cape Town who has published two volumes of poetry and a children’s book, Oaky and the Sun. His poems have been published in anthologies and literary journals in the UK, USA and South Africa. He holds five degrees from Harvard, MIT, LSE, LBS and Wits, and is currently registered at Oxford.

“Portrait of a Mother and Indiscretion”, by Sindiswa Busku-Mathese, was awarded second place, with “Baleka, what do you know”, by Jim Pascual Agustin, in third.

The winners were presented with their awards by head judge and chairperson of the Jacana Literary Foundation Mongane Wally Serote and at an award ceremony hosted by Poetry Africa in October.

Watch Williams’ acceptance speech:

YouTube Preview Image
* * * * *

Read the transcript:

A message from Athol Williams:

Hello from Oxford University, where I will be spending the next few years.

My apologies for not being there with you this evening to celebrate at this award ceremony.

It is such an honour for me to be among the award winners of such a prestigious poetry award as the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award for 2015.

Poets don’t write poems to win awards, but recognition such as this certainly encourages us to keep writing, and to keep improving our craft.

This is the third time that I am entering, so the adage “third time’s a charm” certainly holds true.

Such an award serves not only to encourage poets, but also to raise the profile of poetry in society, and maintain its place amongst the arts.

I believe that poetry is special among the arts, because it uniquely is able to test and transcend the boundaries between the physical and the spiritual; to tie yesterday to tomorrow, in hope, and to link memory with imagination in important ways that the other arts don’t.

Poetry contains lines and words packed with concentrated human experience, and offers us a language when our other languages fail to express our greatest hopes and joys, and indeed, our darkest horrors.

So there is a beauty, a special beauty of the human spirit, that poetry alone seems able to express. Surely our lives are richer for having poetry in it, both as individuals, and as society.

And so I am grateful for a poetry prize such as the Sol Plaatje EU Award, and I commend the sponsors – the European Union, the Jacana Literary Foundation – for having the vision for this prize, and for putting resources behind it.

I would like to thank the judges for their dedicated and time-consuming effort to select the winning poems, and for seeing the beauty of the human spirit and the challenges of our social context in my poem, ‘Streetclass Diseases’.

I would also like to extend a special thank you to Dr Mongane Wally Serote, as the head judge, who I regret not being able to meet tonight.

This award means the world to me. It is the highlight of my 20-year poetry career, and will certainly keep me going for the next 20 years.

Thank you!

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Read the Three Poems in the Running for the 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award

2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award Winners Announced
The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology 2011The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IVThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology

 
Jacana Media has shared the three winners’ poems from this year’s Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award.

The 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award winners this year, as chosen by head judge Mongane Wally Serote, 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”; and Athol Williams, for “Streetclass Diseases”.

How these poems have been placed, and the overall winner, will be announced at an event hosted by Poetry Africa at 6 PM on 17 October, 2015, at Rivertown Beerhall in Durban. The anthology will be launched at 3 PM on the same day, at 8 Morrison Street, Durban.

Read the poems:
 

* * * * *

 

Baleka, What do You Know of Tenders and Thieves?
Or Cockroaches for that Matter?

Jim Pascual Agustin
 
 

“If food is scarce, adolescent cockroaches can live on a very reliable resource – their parents’
faeces.”

There are lessons that a parent
can teach a child. The first few steps,
how to listen, read, and write. Seldom
how to be tender as you plunder
and rape, how to deal with the spoils,
the leftovers, something sharp
scraping the bottom.

“The New Zealand Y2K Readiness Commission gave out a recipe for cockroaches
in case the world ended on New Year’s Eve, 1999. ‘Simmer cockroaches in vinegar.
Then boil with butter, farina flour, pepper and salt to make a paste.
Spread on buttered bread.’”


 
 
You are suspicious of concoctions
from the West, for there are countless
ways of nourishing a nation. You
have secret recipes you’re unwilling
to share. We’re eager to know what lies
squirming in your mind. What’s that
bulging under your sleeve?

“Scientists claim some female cockroaches prefer weaker partners because they like gentle sex.
A University of Manchester team has concluded stronger male cockroaches are too aggressive and often injure their partners.”


 
 
There are consequences, you say,
for not heeding the pliant rod
of your word. In a chamber
echoing an empty order, no king
will want to speak. So you had to
stamp your feet without even grinding
your teeth this time around.
A flick of your hand and the beating
instantly began.
 
 

“A cockroach could live a long time, perhaps a month, without its head.”


 
 
Thugs go through the academy of thuggery. The ABC’s
of how to swing a stick, a panga. How to aim a gun
that need not be fired, except on a whim. One head
may roll, and another. Yet bodies keep kicking,
running even, as if they weren’t missing anything.
Because cockroaches breathe through the holes
in their skin, living on nothing for weeks
on end. But they do, eventually, wilt.
 
 

“Cockroaches have been present on the earth for more than 400 million years.”

How did you get so far up
that ladder, appearing to know
so little? Perhaps your mind
cannot even go back as far
as Rwanda, when cockroaches
were grafted onto human flesh.
 
 
-o-

Quoted cockroach facts from Thaibugs.

Poem refers to Baleka Mbete calling Julius Malema a cockroach.

* * * * *

 
 

Portrait of a Mother and
Indiscretion

Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese
 
 
My mother smells of indiscretion
– in fact she smells of strange
things. Not camphor or Zam-Buk;
not of anything familiar.

My mother walks slowly,
crossing the bedroom in high-
heeled shoes. In my grey window
I see the sky. In the sky the moon
is round. She hides her smile
behind the curtain lace and
whispers, “My child sees
everything.”

I’m waiting for her to hang her
winter coat. I am eager to
glimpse her body. Her buttons
fall away. She is kneeling at my
bedside, upright. Her hand on
mine. It’s raining. She is
lipsticked and caressing my face.
The moon is dead. Her hands
don’t feel the same anymore. The
stars have gone out. I turn and
bite her sad hand; she flies
backwards. I am loud and yellow
laughter. I whisper back, “My
mother wears a disguise for my
eyes only.”

My mother is an old woman. She
is no longer young. Yet I smell
her indiscretion. I have smelt it
on her for days. She has been
laughing and smiling without
restraint.

 
 

* * * * *

 
 
Streetclass Diseases

Athol Williams
 
 
Abeeda’s toothless mouth sprays saliva as
she paints a picture of her thirteen years
on Cape Town’s streets. He feels her spit in
his face, on his nose, on his lip, arousing
his middleclass concern over streetclass
diseases. At sixty two, she’s never been
to a doctor or hospital; he goes twenty times
a year. Distracted by her dark purple
gums, he misses part of her sermon chastising
him for his pagan life of walking past sick
children drowning in ponds and admiring
his large shadow on cave walls and buying
signed first editions of dead poets while
old women starve on Cape Town’s streets. She
tells of her walk with her god, her simple
life beneath bridges, clearly boasting
about her immunity to his diseases. He offers
her cash. She scoffs and carries on digging
through the garbage bin where he found her.
 
 

* * * * *

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