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Kalk Bay Books Presents an All-you-can-eat Buffet of Gus Ferguson's Work, with John Maytham, Beverly Rycroft and More

Kalk Bay Books takes great pleasure in inviting you to a special evening in celebration of Gus Ferguson’s ouevre, with an all-you-can-eat buffet of his musings read by well-known and loved bookish friends.

Holding Back: New & Selected PoemsWaiting for GateauHolding Pattern

Ferguson – poet, pharmacist, cyclist, defender of snails and publisher – is one of the heavyweights of the South African poetry scene. Margaret Clough, Finuala Dowling, Hugh Hodge, John Maytham and Beverly Rycroft will be reading from his work.

The event takes place on Tuesday, 14 July and starts at 6:30 for 7 PM.

Come and enjoy a glass of wine and some incredible poetry!
Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 14 July 2015
  • Time: 6:30 PM for 7:00 PM
  • Venue: Kalk Bay Books
    124 Main Road
    Kalk Bay | Map
  • Guest Speakers: Margaret Clough, Finuala Dowling, Hugh Hodge, John Maytham and Beverly Rycroft
  • Refreshments: Wine
  • RSVP:, 021 7882266


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Image courtesy of Pirogue Collective

Christine Barkhuizen le Roux gesels met René Bohnen oor Skynskadu en deel ’n vers: "laaste wil"

Skynskadu“Ek dink die digter – die méns – het in wese ‘n behoefte om begryp te word.”

Só het Christine Barkhuizen le Roux onlangs in ‘n onderhoud op Versindaba gesê oor haar jongste digbundel – Skynskadu – wat pas by Naledi verskyn het.

René Bohnen het onder meer vir Barkhuizen le Roux gevra oor die temas wat in haar verse teenwoordig is, die verskillende afdelings in haar bundel (wat elk met ‘n eie motto kom), haar gebruik van ironie, en die sfeer van onderrig en vriendskap of kameraadskap wat ter sprake kom in van haar verse. Barkhuizen le Roux vertel ook meer oor die CD wat saam met die bundel kom en, as lusmaker vir die verse, deel sy dan ook ‘n vers, getiteld “laaste wil”.

Lees dit, asook die volledige onderhoud, op Versindaba:

laaste wil

draai my in ’n groen jurk
en lê my op ’n baar

wanneer die reëntyd oor is
die wolke druppelloos

skuif my in die smal hoogoond
sodat ek skoon en wit kan brand
nie wag op wurms ondergrond
bolangse krans of Sondag se besoek

neem die potkleikruik met as

breek dit tot skerwe skud my vry
oor waboom tolbos en bergriet
teen die Langeberg se hoogste spits

neurie deuntjies vry van verdriet

hoor hoe die jong hoep-hoepies roep
die swart toktokkies sein en klop
die ou-ou kode tussen my en jou

wanneer die reën en groei weer kom
blare hand uitsteek na die son
kom soek my tussen heuningbos

waar ek knalgeel tussen die kwartsklip blom


"I am Struggling to Love Humans When They Need it Most": Read a Poem by Croc E Moses and View His Artwork

DriftwordCroc E Moses’ show “Common Suspense” at the National Arts Festival will mark the official launch of Driftword, a collection of his poem/song lyrics, artworks and music CD published by Unisa Press. Driftword is the latest addition to Unisa Press’s new flagship Flame Series.

The Unisa Flame Series was sparked by the need to create a space in which to publish ground-breaking works of high merit and originality which move beyond the scope of the traditional. The Series offers a platform for new forms of expression, draws in works that are cutting-edge and which cater for a new generation of digital natives as well as for an existing print-based readership. Works in this Series are multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinary, and reflect a range of creative and research projects on the African continent and globally.

Croc E Moses is unlike any other poet. He combines sounds, movement, song and spoken word to transport listeners to distant places with his rhythm-driven performances. His one hour solo show, which will be performed in Grahamstown, showcases a variety of material from the last 15 years of writing.

An artist in the truest sense of the word, Croc E Moses’ work spans many platforms. Watch the video below to see his artwork portfolio:

YouTube Preview Image


Related news:

Read “Shrink Bigger”, a poem written and performed by Croc E Moses:

Shrink Bigger
By croc E moses ©2011

I’m a joybot. Constantly on the hunt for some emergency happiness. Stuck in this global state of puss, damned up damage, bubble of denial. Third world debt in the throes of thrombosis. I’m struggling to love humans when they need it most. A child once laughed and said to me – Just shrink bigger. Destination love origin

Meanwhile I am still blind sided, side swiped by winds at break neck speed. A gale force guillotine cutting to the chase. It’s got my mind on the run. Only to find myself held up by an army of question marks – Which way to what

Can you see I’m trapped in escapism. Caught in my own straight jacket skin. The great clarification is upon me now. It’s turbulence turbulence turbulence. Reality is taking me for a ride. It’s hard to believe my ship’s coming in when I feel I’m sinking. Sometimes my only freedom is to surrender. Shrink back to bigger picture focus – Shrink bigger. Destination love origin.

I’m not hear to blame you even entertain you, lead you down the garden path of more smug desperate obliviousness. No, the funny money party is over. We’ve inherited a nuclear hangover. I’m here to get clear about our schizophrenia. I’m here to excavate ancient instinct. Here to remember mother nature. Can’t beat her so join her counter culture. A praying mantis shadow boxer trickster mantra – Open source poetry sorcery. Destination love origin.


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Image courtesy of Croc E Moses

Long Story Short Event at Es'kia Mphahlele Community Library Leaves Yewande Omotoso with Some Questions

Long Story Short event
Bom BoyUnimportanceIf I Could Sing

The fourth Long Story Short took place at the Es’kia Mphahlele Community Library in Pretoria last weekend, with Khulu Skenjana reading Thando Mgqolozana’s short story “The Weeping Willow”, but the event was forced to shut down before the Poet Laureate had had a chance to speak, leaving Yewande Omotoso with some questions.

Long Story Short is a Kajeno Media initiative, involving a short story being read at a public event, with high quality podcasts and videos being produced for free consumption and download afterwards.

Long Story Short event

The reading was a very festive affair, attended by Keorapetse Kgositsile and the “who’s who” of South African literature, while Africa Flavour Books brought in a pop-up store with discounted African books – including some rare classics.

However, after the reading the discussion was interrupted by a booming intercom announcing that the library was closing, and the whole group was forced to leave the library in a hurry.

Omotoso is the curator of the pieces to be read for Long Story Short. Read her piece on the event:

The Day the Library Finished

Long Story Short eventWe gathered at the Es’kia Mphahlele Community Library in Tshwane City, a library folded into a mall – Sammy Marks Square – which is really a thoughtful arrangement. Why put the library on a hill somewhere? Put it on the white sands of beaches, dig it underneath our cinemas, plant it on top of our spaza shops – the point is treat the library like the hearth, what good is a fire if nobody can reach it to be warmed?

The Sammy Marks building has a robust history. Sammy Marks, for whom the building is named, was born in 1843 and was a South African industrialist and financier. In addition to paying for the bricks and chandeliers of the Pretoria synagogue he commissioned a statue of Kruger that stands on Church Square. Possibly Sammy Marks Square was once offices and commerce but now a huge portion of it is full of glorious books.

The purpose of that particular gathering was to hear a reading of “The Weeping Willow”, an eerie story by Thando Mqolozana. A story so sharp it prickles. Performed by Khulu Skenjana to a warm crowd of about 30 hungry people, the day would have been a success if not for a few holes in our otherwise solid ground.

One can’t claim to understand all the holes, the extent of them and how to fill them up, but you don’t need to be a professor of something to know you’ve fallen and you can’t get up.

Before the reading, armed with an infusion of earnestness and at the behest of organiser Kgauhelo Dube, I trawled the library aisles and accosted innocent library visitors. I told them about Long Story Short and that they may have noticed a small commotion, that we were about to have a short reading, and asked if perhaps they wanted a break from their intense studying. There weren’t that many people to begin with but I passed out flyers to the few I saw and I’m pleased to say I was persuasive enough to attract an extra four or five curious folk.

At the appointed time the reading began. Khulu has gravel in his voice and Thando’s story, as small as it is, is full of heavy rocks which sink to the bottom of your heart. People leaned forward in their seats, keen not to miss anything. The good news is whatever was missed can be heard again thanks to the podcast and a thing called Wi-Fi.

Seconds after Khulu finished his performance, cutting off MC Masello Motana in mid-sentence, a determined voice tinkled through the intercom to let us know that the library would be closing at 12.50pm. Possibly we, the organisers and guests, were guilty of the disease called Denial because I remember hearing the announcement but not really understanding. As if the woman had spoken in a foreign language. There was bustle you see, great excitement. A posse of writers, publishers, readers, high-school students. It is possible that when you’re that excited you consider yourself immune to intercom announcements.

Long Story Short eventWhile the MC navigated us through the question and answer session, a second announcement cut in. Thando Mgqolozana and South African Poet Laureate Keorapetse William Kgositsile were on stage at the time. With that strange combination of embarrassment and indignation, Masello had the excruciating task of telling the book lovers that we had to leave, adding that perhaps we could gather outside in the square, as it would appear that the library was kicking us out or – as a three-year-old succinctly put it – the library was finished.

Of course libraries must close. I had the luxury of experiencing a real-life 24-hour library, and it’s a wondrous thing; hopefully this invention will soon land on our shores. But for now libraries close. Do a little tour and you’ll note the different times the different libraries around South Africa close, I won’t dwell on it here. The point is that Es’kia Mphahlele closes at 12.50pm on a Saturday. Perhaps that’s a hole. Not the fault of the receptionist and workers who want to get home and need to catch a cocktail of buses and taxis to do so. But how about the senior librarian, what should one expect of such a person when you come and visit them? Foolishly, Long Story Short and its slowly growing tribe thought to be welcomed and feted. We were bringing books and readers and writers into a library, we were filming and promoting reading, we had Ntate Keorapetse with us, we thought ourselves bullet-proof or at least kick-out-proof. We certainly didn’t intend on staying till Christmas – our programme was wrapping up – we simply wanted a few extra minutes to end in a dignified fashion. Instead we packed hurriedly and scurried out.

Long Story Short eventOutside in the gorgeous Sammy Marks Square the sun hit our eyeballs, we moved about, conspicuous; we laughed about the recent eviction, took resplendent photographs and selfies and eventually dispersed. Should the library close that early on a Saturday? What a wonderful space it is, what an awesome facility, shouldn’t it have been fuller? Where was the librarian, why didn’t she come through to greet Ntate? Why that double dose of officious intercoming? Could the deliverer of such news not have walked the 10 paces to where we sat and whispered in Kgauhelo’s ear, apologetic to break up such a dazzling party? Libraries close, of course, but that seems the least of the problem. There was a certain spirit we missed and it made us nostalgic and frustrated. The irony of starting a reading movement in a library that seems at best bemused, at worst hostile. Perhaps we weren’t imposing or important enough. Books are powerful but books aren’t guns. Books are enriching but books aren’t bars of gold. Of course any reader knows that books are more than guns, pomp, flash and gold and we assumed any library would know that too.

Long Story Short eventEs’kia Mphahlele, father of African literature – that child blessed with a sprinkling of parents. Mphahlele was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1984 and, in 1998, was awarded South Africa’s highest symbol of recognition – the Order of the Southern Cross. The renown came from his brilliance in fiction and non-fiction, in theatre, teaching, activism and in thought. A bust of Prof. Es’kia Mphahlele sits in the library. If, instead of his likeness, he himself had been there that day, what would he have said, preacher of humanism and the importance of African consciousness?

“There must surely be much more to be said than the mere recounting of an incident: about the loves and hates of my people; their desires; their poverty and affluence … their diligence and idleness; their cold indifference and enthusiasm …”

What I take from his words is that we are complex, our histories are complex, our struggles are complex and our solutions will occasionally slip through holes and fight for purchase. Mphahlele preached, despite immense challenges, the survival of an African humanism. It seems intelligent, whatever the upsets of the day, to keep returning to this nugget of wisdom.

Yewande Omotoso

View a photo album from the event:


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Jeff Opland: Contemporary Praise Poets are Losing the Right to Censure Leadership with Impunity

William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembaliDLP Yali-Manisi: Limbali ZamanyangeJeff Opland is regarded as an authority on Xhosa poetry and was recently quoted in an article about praise poets by Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi for the Mail & Guardian.

Opland, who is also the editor of William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888) and DLP Yali-Manisi: Limbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems, comments on the changing role of the praise poet figure in South African society.

The praise poet function traditionally functions as a voice of the people, but Opland says that this function is changing in contemporary politics:

Historically, a praise poet would come up through the ranks and become an official praise poet partly by gaining the support of the leader’s subjects. Part of the licence and responsibility of the official role was the right to censure the leadership without the fear of recourse.

According to Opland, the praise poet “had the privilege of criticising the chief with impunity. His criticism was never intended to stir up dissent or dissatisfaction, but rather to express popular opinion.” In turn, the leader would draw the praise poet close, in part because of the poet’s ability to praise the leader lyrically.

Things are very different in South Africa today and the annual opening of Parliament is an unwelcome reminder of the praise singer’s turn for the worse. This year, as on many other occasions, the praise singer was selected without the active participation of the citizenry.

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"There is Nothing Like History as a Story, There are Only Histories as Stories": EE Sule Talks African Literture

Nation, Power and Dissidence in Third Generation Nigerian Poetry in EnglishSterile SkyEE Sule, literary critic and author of Nation, Power and Dissidence in Third Generation Nigerian Poetry in English and Sterile Sky, recently shared a few of his thoughts about contemporary literature in Africa with Adeola Ogunrinde.

Sule told Ogunrinde about why he went into literature, how African literature is changing society for the better and the multiplicity of stories and histories he has seen in representations of Nigeria.

Read the interview:

Do you think our literature has been able to capture the historical progression of Nigeria as a country, starting from the independence period?
The truth of the matter is that there is nothing like history as a story, there are only histories as stories, different stories, they say history is what someone who is capable of talking can say, if something happens and I ask you to narrate what happens with three others depending on your interest, there is nothing like this is what happened in the past, there is only this is what I think or I can remember happened in the past in that case, history becomes subjective and history becomes pluralistic and that is why many people say, you tell your own story.

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