Herman Lategan het onlangs met Sonja Loots gesels tydens die bekendstelling van Binnekring van spookasems: Stories oor die lewe by Protea Boekwinkel in Stellenbosch. Binnekring van spookasems is ’n versameling van Lategan se beste rubrieke, saamgestel deur Amanda Botha.
Loots het Lategan uitgevra oor sy opwindende taalgebruik. “Ek hou van woorde wat interessant, sexy klink, wat ek kan proe.” Lategan het sy woordkeuses beskryf as “woordtaalklippies”. “As ek die taal praat is dit die taal van my hart en dit is die taal van my ouma en dit is die taal van my kleintyd in Seepunt, en dan ook my ma se agtergrond in Namakwaland.”
Lategan het gesê daar is nie genoeg satiristiese opstuurdery in Afrikaans nie. “Weet jy wat ek mis eintlik in die Afrikaanse literêre wêreld is dat, as jy kyk na die Guardian of die New Yorker en die New York Times en al daai, die mense is nogal geneig om openlik en eerlik met mekaar te verskil.” Die skrywer het gesê Afrikaners is nog heelwat te katvoet en ordentlik. “Partykeer kan ons maar bietjie tewerig wees.”
Luister na die klankopname van die gesprek:
There are just two days left to submit an application for the 2015 Writivism Creative Writing Workshops.
Applications – which take the form of a piece of flash fiction – close on 31 October at midnight.
The workshops are intended to identify new writing talent, and will take place in January next year in various cities around Africa, with Lagos, Gaborone, Kampala, Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg being the planned locations.
The Lagos workshop will be facilitated by Dami Ajayi, Kampala by Dilman Dila, Johannesburg by Yewande Omotoso, Gaborone by Donald Molosi and Dar es Salaam by Zukiswa Wanner and Ayeta Anne Wangusa, among others.
The workshops will include daily two-hour master classes on fiction writing, group sessions of critiquing of draft stories and private time for participants to re-write their stories. Participants who produce high quality work in the workshops and show commitment to their writing shall be assigned mentors at the end of the workshop. They shall work on two flash fiction stories to be published in newspapers and online and a short story for submission to the Writivism African Short Story Prize under the guidance of the mentors. They shall also be required to review assigned work by the mentors and also apply to various writing opportunities on recommendation by the mentor.
Koos Kombuis het onlangs ‘n roerende lesersindruk van Herman Lategan se rubriekbundel, Binnekring van spookasems: Stories oor die lewe, op LitNet geplaas. Hy skryf:
“Ek het Herman se boek nadergetrek, op die agterstoep gaan sit tussen die hondehok en die veerpyltjiebord, en begin lees. Die hele boek, hierdie keer, nie net die paar uitsoekstukkies wat die uitgewers vir my per e-pos gestuur het nie.
Eers teen Saterdagaand, toe ek vir die eerste keer besef dat ek die wedstryd tussen WP en die Blou Bulle gemis het, was ek klaar.”
Kombuis se skrywe onthul iets omtrent die realiteit van Suid-Afrikaanse skrywers, en hoe mense hul vergoed (al dan nie) vir werk wat hul doen.
Lees die treffende artikel (wat nie ‘n resensie genoem kan word nie want, verduidelik Kombuis, daar is klaar ‘n aanhaling van hom op die boek se voorblad):
“Nou waar was jy dan die hele naweek? Ek het jou nooit gesien nie!”
“Ek het gehuil!” roep ek. “Ek sit nou al die hele naweek op die agterstoep met ‘n glasie wyn en met Binnekring van spookasems!”
“Hoeveel glasies wyn? Hulle sê ook neusbloeding kan veroorsaak word deur medikasie wat die bloed verdun!”
Skielik gaan daar ‘n liggie vir my op. “My hart was seer, toe vat ek ‘n paar Disprins!” erken ek.
Sy klink skielik bekommerd. “Hoeveel Disprins presies?”
“Ek is nie seker nie! My hart was BAIE seer!”
Joanne Hichens – editor of the Adults Only, the second annual Short.Sharp.Stories Awards anthology – interviews Donvé Lee. Her story “The Mirror” won the Editor’s Choice Award for From The Heart.
Donvé Lee studied fine art, and became a textile designer, a graphic designer, a features writer, an art teacher, a painter, a traveller, a wife and a mother, before finally realising that she was quite simply an artist. After moving to Cape Town, she acquired post-graduate degrees in art history and creative writing. Her books include The Unfolding Man, a biography of artist, scholar and mystic Dan Rakgoathe, and An Intimate War a tumultuous, claustrophobic love story about two wounded individuals bound together by an addictive passion. She is currently working on a biography about South African musician Syd Kitchen. Follow Donvé at donvelee.bookslive.co.za.
Firstly, congratulations on the accolade of Editor’s Choice for your story, “The Mirror”.
I was delighted to find out I was a winner. Writers spend years in anguished isolation trying to communicate, so it’s hugely gratifying when we finally get some recognition.
“The Mirror” certainly has resonance for me as it focuses on finding beauty and meaning in the ageing process…. can you comment on that?
I was exploring several themes: the wonder-filled mystery of desire; the impact societal conditioning has on women and body image; the way men tend to appreciate women’s bodies far more than women do themselves; the almost narcissistic desire some women have to be looked at – which overturns the popular notion of the voyeuristic male gaze and the passive female – and then, yes, the fragility of our ageing bodies and the vulnerability we experience during sexual relationships.
Is it important for you to explore sex and sensuality through writing fiction?
I grew up in a home where the stuff of the heart and the body were never acknowledged, so speaking out about the unspeakable, exploring this terrain through my art, was the natural outcome of this unfortunate silence. Besides, sexuality is such a fundamental part of who we are and intimate relationships are full of mystery and magic, all of which provide delicious material for fiction. I love the fact that men and women are different and I try to celebrate these differences in my fiction rather than deny them.
And of course you explore intimacy as an undeniable aspect of sex…
I’m fascinated by the paradoxical nature of intimate relationships and the fact that the dark side of love is often rooted in unspoken insecurities. Most of us have black holes in our relationships, unspoken stories that we carry around, things we just don’t talk about, stories which drain the life blood out of our relationships but also paradoxically and perhaps pathologically provide the undercurrents which fuel our greatest passions. So if there are any overarching themes in my erotic fiction writing these may be, firstly, the exploration of how these pervasive undercurrents impact on sexual relationships, and secondly, looking at emotional vulnerability as the essential ingredient of eroticism. I am also fascinated by the link between creativity and eroticism.
It was really when I wrote An Intimate War, a memoir dressed up as fiction, that I realised that writing stories about sexuality and intimacy satisfied me deeply.
When you talk about the link between creativity and eroticism, what do you mean?
I don’t think I’ve really found the answer to this question yet, I’m still feeling my way around it. But I know that when I am at my most creative, I feel most alive, most connected to a deeper spiritual source. The energy flowing through me percolates throughout my mind, body, heart and soul. I am alive to mystery and magic, and one of the most profound mysteries of life for me is sexual desire. I think people who are deeply connected to their creative core are more likely to explore and appreciate eroticism in themselves and their relationships.
Can you comment in general on the way we, as South Africans, view sex and sensuality?
The statement is complex and multi-layered and seems to imply that sexuality is somehow linked to nationality or ethnicity. Is there an Afrikaner sexuality? A Zulu sexuality? We are all sexual beings governed by similar instincts, although our sexual behaviour is influenced by our sociocultural environment.
South Africa is uniquely blessed on the one hand by an extremely liberal constitution – one that enshrines gender equality and legalizes gay marriage – and cursed on the other by shockingly high levels of sexual abuse of women and children. We also have a highly sexualized media environment. All of this adds up to sadly schizophrenic society.
Schizophrenic on the one hand and perhaps sexually repressed on the other?
Repressed sexuality amongst South Africans seems to be fuelled by several factors: Apartheid did much to discourage the development of a sexually mature society and in many ways we’re still floundering in the wake of our unfortunate history: the migrant labour system destroyed black families, breaking down relationships between husbands and wives and fathers and children while the conscription campaign created a decidedly chauvinist culture among white males. Secondly, the oppressive influence of religion – the Calvinism of the Dutch Reformed Church, Catholicism and traditional African religions – has inhibited the growth of a sexually mature nation.
What next can we expect from you?
My most recent – not yet published – work is a biography about an unsung cultural hero, South African musician Syd Kitchen, and my newest, sweetest adventure is into the wonderful world of grandmotherhood!
Wishing you all the best with your writing projects, Donvé, and of course, Big Thanks for donating your prize money to The Book Lounge’s Westridge Library Project.
I was privileged to attend schools with well-stocked libraries. I’ve spent much of my life happily buried inside books. Without books I would be thoroughly miserable, and would not be the writer that I am today. Books feed us in all sorts of ways, open so many doors, help us understand our world and ourselves, teach us to fly. Yet tragically, there are far too many children in this country who do not have easy access to books. So if my prize money (a drop in the ocean really) can help to turn a few children at Westridge High into passionate readers, I think my heart will start to sing.
Naomi Meyer het met Herman Lategan gesels oor Binnekring van spookasems: Stories oor die lewe, ‘n versameling van sy beste rubrieke saamgestel deur Amanda Botha.
Lategan deel meer oor die inhoud van die bundel: “Die artikels wissel van my herinneringe aan my jaar wat ek in ’n kinderhuis spandeer het, geheuebeelde oor digters met wie ek in my jeug bevriend was, soos Sheila Cussons en Ina Rousseau, onderhoude, en stories oor randfigure wat in my lewe figureer hier waar ek in Seepunt woon.”
Lees die artikel vir insig tot Lategan se skrywerswêreld:
Het jy op enige plek in die manuskrip ’n dooie punt bereik en indien wel, wat het veroorsaak dat jy dit kon oorkom?
Ja, ek bereik ’n dooie punt elke dag van my lewe. Ek wil elke dag tou opgooi en weghol, my laptop in die see loop gooi, geboue afbrand, kaalgat deur die kerke hardloop, op mense vloek en skel, die polisie bel sodat hulle my kan opsluit en die sleutel weggooi. Elke dag. Skryf is ’n nagmerrie. Daarom suip ek soos ’n sekswerker wat ’n rol note opgetel het.
Wat was vir jou die belangrikste: plot, karakter, ruimte, atmosfeer of tema? (Of iets anders – en, indien wel, wat?)
Die belangrikste is om met so min woorde as moontlik ’n groot storie te vertel. ’n Verhaal, artikel, teater of rubriek wat jou na plekke in jou kop neem wat jou gaan uit-freak en lank bybly.