Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Book Launch: Unlikely by Colleen Crawford Cousins

IMG_0036Modjaji Books and The Book Lounge are delighted to invite you to the launch of Colleen Crawford Cousins’ debut collection of poems, Unlikely.

As the publisher, I’m particularly thrilled to bring out this collection. Colleen Crawford Cousins was my first Modjaji matron, and she is my very dear friend. Her writing is strong, deeply felt, full of life, humour and shining intelligent clarity. It is my enormous honour to be Colleen’s friend and publisher and to bring her work into the light.

“Wry narratives, stored for decades, distilled and reclaimed fleeting feelings and feelings made to last in their weird word forms, meet and fitting.” Joan Metelerkamp

“In acutely observed poems, imbued with surprising geographies of imagery and tinged with irony, Crawford Cousins maps out the spaces between immensity and confinement, where people struggle with each other and themselves for a sense of fulfilment and belonging.” Kelwyn Sole

Unlikely front cover

Unlikely is a collection of poems by Colleen Crawford Cousins written over decades of reading and writing poetry. The collection is a distillation of a quiet, powerful voice that is an offering of love in a world and life that has been filled with light and anguish.

Colleen Crawford Cousins returned to South Africa in 1991 and began to live in the Afterwards. She consults nationally as a trainer, facilitator, writer and editor. She has been published in New Coin, Aerodrome, African Writing online and Stray. She is also the author of A Hundred Furrows, the Land Struggle in Zimbabwe 1890-1990 and a co-author of Lwaano Lwanyika, Tonga Book of the Earth.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday 2nd March 2017
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge, Corner of Roeland and Buitenkant Streets, Cape Town
  • Guest Speaker: Colleen Higgs
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP: Book Lounge,, 021 462 2425

Book Details

Sulamiet: Lina Spies voel byna net so opgewonde oor tiende digbundel as oor 1971-debuut

Lina Spies

SulamietDie bekroonde skrywer Lina Spies se tiende digbundel, Sulamiet, het in 2016 by Naledi verskyn en is tydens die RSG Kunstefees bekend gestel.

Jean Oosthuizen (LitNet) en Andries Visagie (Versindaba) het kort na die vrystelling met die skrywer gesels oor haar jongste bundel.

Spies vertel aan Oosthuizen: “Die publikasie van my tiende digbundel het my byna dieselfde opwinding besorg wat met die verskyning van my debuut in 1971 gepaard gegaan het.”

Lees die artikel:

Jou tiende digbundel, Sulamiet, het pas by Naledi verskyn. Ek besef dit is moeilik om jou eie werk te beoordeel, maar hoe voel jy oor jou nommer tien en jou nuwe uitgewer?

Die publikasie van my tiende digbundel het my byna dieselfde opwinding besorg wat met die verskyning van my debuut in 1971 gepaard gegaan het. My eersteling is voorafgegaan deur ’n dekade waarin ek met onwrikbare geloof in die oordeel van my mentor, DJ Opperman, my eerste gedigte geskryf het totdat hy my debuut, Digby Vergenoeg, as ’n ryp bundel kon aanbeveel vir publikasie.

By Opperman het ek die geduld geleer om te wag totdat ek in die gedigte wat dit my gegee word om te skryf ’n bundel “herken” wat gereed is vir blootstelling aan die publieke oog.

Met Visagie gesels die skrywer veral oor die Bybelse simboliek en temas in Sulamiet.

Lees die artikel:

Die Sulammitiese meisie is die prominentste van die drie sprekers; die meisie, die man en die dogters van Jerusalem. Sy lui die lied in en sluit dit af en haar stem is heeltyd dominant. Sy bely haar liefde, verlange en soeke na haar geliefde, maar sy doen ook navraag na waar hy is, waarsku die dogters van Jerusalem om die liefde nie ontydig te wek nie, maar sy eie gang te laat gaan en sy verdedig haarself:

“Ek is bruin gebrand, maar lieflik, o dogters van Jerusalem… Moenie na my kyk omdat ek so bruinerig is, omdat die son my verbrand het nie: die seuns van my moeder was toornig op my; hulle het my aangestel as oppasser van die wingerde; my eie wingerd het ek nie opgepas nie” (Hgl. 1. 5 – 6). In die jongste Nederlandse Bybelvertaling van 2004 word “bruin verbrand” met “donker” vertaal en om dié rede word op haar “neergesien” waar in die Afrikaanse vertaling sy aangekyk word in die meer letterlike sin: “Meisjes van Jeruzalem, donker ben ik, en mooi…Kijk niet op mij neer omdat ik donker ben, omdat de zon mij heeft gebrand. Mijn moeders zonen waren hard voor mij: ik moes hun wijngaarden bewaken. Mijn eigen wijngaard heb ik niet bewaakt.”

Nie net minagting van die dogters van Jerusalem is haar deel nie; sy word selfs aangerand op haar soektog in die stad na haar beminde:

“Die wagte wat in die stad rondgaan, het my aangetref; hulle het my geslaan, my gewond; die wagte by die mure het my mantel van my afgeneem” (Hgl. 5:7). Die veel poëtieser Nederlandse vertaling lui: “De wachters vonden mij op hun ronde door de stad. Zij sloegen mij, zij verwonden mij, zij rukten mij de sluier af, de wachters van de muren.”


Imagining ourselves into existence: First ever Abantu Book Festival in Soweto a roaring success

Words and images by Thato Rossouw

My Own LiberatorUnimportanceSweet MedicineAffluenzaNwelezelangaThe Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things and Other StoriesRapeFlying Above the SkyNight DancerBlack Widow SocietyThe Everyday WifeOur Story Magic

“A conquered people often lose the inclination to tell their stories.”

These were the words of former Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke at the inaugural Abantu Book Festival, in discussion with readers about the importance of black people telling their own stories and having spaces where they can share them with one another. “We have stories to tell, they are important, and they are liberating in nature,” he said.

Moseneke’s words came as a preamble to compliment the authors Thando Mgqolozana and Panashe Chigumadzi, and the rest of their team members, for organising a festival that not only celebrated black writers, readers, pan-African book stores, and online platforms that celebrate African literature and narratives, but also gave them a safe space to speak freely about the issues they face in their struggle to liberate themselves.

The festival, which was themed “Imagining ourselves into existence”, came as a result of Mgqolozana’s decision early last year to renounce white colonial literary festivals. In an interview with The Daily Vox in May last year, Mgqolozana told Theresa Mallinson that his decision to reject these festivals came from a discomfort with literary festivals where the audience was 80 percent white. “It’s in a white suburb in a white city. I feel that I’m there to perform for an audience that does not treat me as a literary talent, but as an anthropological subject,” he said.

The three-day festival took place at two venues: the Eyethu Lifestyle Centre, which hosted free events during the day, and the Soweto Theatre, which hosted events in the evening. These evening festivities cost R20 per person and featured over 50 poets, novelists, essayists, playwrights, literary scholars, screenwriters, performing artists and children’s writers from across Africa and the diaspora. Some of the writers and artists who were present at the festival include Niq Mhlongo, Unathi Magubeni, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, Thandiswa Mazwai, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Lebogang Mashile and Chika Unigwe, among many others.

The first day of the festival began with a discussion featuring four black female Fallist writers, Dikeledi Sibanda, Mbali Matandela, Sandy Ndelu and Simamkele Dlakavu, titled “Writing and Rioting Black Womxn in the time of Fallism”. The discussion covered topics ranging from the role of the body, particularly the naked body, in challenging old narratives, to writing and rioting as acts of activism. It was then followed by a highly attended talk with Justice Moseneke entitled “Land and Liberation”, a concert by the group Zuko Collective at the Soweto Theatre, as well as speeches and performances at the opening night show.

Some of the riveting discussions at the festival were titled: “Land and Liberation”, “Women of Letters”, “Writing Today”, “Cut! Our Stories on Stage and Screen”, “Ghetto is Our First Love”, “Creating Platforms for Our Stories” and “Writing Stories Across and Within Genres”. The festival also included seven documentary screenings, poetry performances, a writing masterclass with Angela Makholwa and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, and performances every night at the Soweto Theatre by Zuko Collective.

Dr Gcina Mhlophe gave the keynote address at the festival’s opening night, which was preceded by the singing of the decolonised national anthem and a rendition of the poem “Water” by poet Koleka Putuma. Mhlophe reminded the audience that, while it is important for us to celebrate young and upcoming artists, it is also important to remember and celebrate those that came before them. She sang and told stories about people like Mariam Tladi and Nokutela Dube and spoke about their role in the development of the arts. Dube was the first wife of Reverend John Langalibalele Dube who was the first President General of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) which was later renamed the African National Congress (ANC).

The festival ended with a sold-out event at the Soweto Theatre that featured a discussion on “Native Life in 2016” between Chigumadzi and I’solezwe LesiXhosa editor Unathi Kondile, facilitated by Mashile; a performance by Zuko Collective; and a Literary Crossroads session with Unigwe, facilitated by Ndumiso Ngcobo.

* * * * *

The hashtag #AbantuBookFest was on fire for the duration of the festival and long afterwards:

Facebook gallery

Book details

Omgewingsgesprek voortgesit in Susan Smith se jongste digbundel, Die aarde is ’n eierblou ark

Die aarde is ’n eierblou arkDie aarde is ’n eierblou ark deur Susan Smith is nou beskikbaar by Protea Boekhuis:

In Smith se eerste bundel, in die afwesigheid van sin, het reeds ’n hele aantal gedigte oor die omgewing verskyn. In dié nuwe bundel word die omgewingsgesprek voortgesit. Die gedigte handel egter nie oor bewaringsvraagstukke nie, maar oor die mens se verhouding tot die aarde en die lewende wesens daarop. Soos die titel aandui, word die aarde gesien as ’n soort vaartuig wat deur die heelal reis. Dit is ook die boot waarmee die mens op sy lewensreis vaar deur verskillende waters. Plante, veral bome, is verwysingspunte op hierdie reis. Die woorde van die digter is instrumente wat die vaart moontlik maak, dit beskryf en die bedreigde lewendes help bewaar:

die aarde is ’n eierblou ark
wat deur die melkweg veer
waarin ons waterdeurdronge
deur soutreën en sleepmistonge

hiermaals vaar en as bede
om vergiffenis en genade

daagliks silwer woordspane
deur water stuur

Oor die outeur

Susan Smith is dosent in Afrikaanse letterkunde aan die Universiteit van Fort Hare. As navorser ondersoek sy veral die poësie se bydrae tot die gesprek ook die omgewing.


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 or email

This project is made possible in partnership with The Other Foundation:


Related news:

Athol Williams, Janet Lees, Radhika Budhwar, Lynda Bullerwell, Devika Rajan in Trainstorm

Athol Williams

Janet Lees

Radhika Budhwar


Devika Rajan