Category Archives: Poetry

Loud and Yellow Laughter by Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese

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loud-and-yellow-laughter

This slim treasure of poetry is a multi-textual collection consisting of photographs, documents, letters, poems and diary entries. I found myself mesmerised from the first page to the last. It is uniquely creative and meticulously crafted.

Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese wrote the original version as part of her Master’s thesis in Creative Writing.She has also published poems in different poetry journals and has recently been short-listed for the inaugural Gerald Kraak Award.

The poet explores a personal family history; a family history that is peculiar to South Africa where we often choose our family without requiring a blood tie. It begins in 1931 in far away West Yorkshire, delving into a far away childhood and uneasy family relationships. The photos are creased and dog-eared which contributes to the sense of long gone times. It ends in Durban in the early 2000’s with a funeral.

In between West Yorkshire and Durban, the poet  documents key moments, sometimes from the perspective of the child then later from the perspective of the adult. It seems as if she is attempting to make sense of her life with its mysteries and unusualness by interrogating the lives of those who formed her. The result is one that illuminates how it is the simple things that form a life. It is intriguing to decipher the different texts to pick up a narrative thread of sorts but not one that is obvious. The links between different lives are tenuous and delicate yet deeply felt.

The Mother and the Father are the two critical important figures in this work. She deftly speaks in their voices and then switches to her own. This switch in perspective adds layers of emotion and shows remarkable insight. Another switch is that between matter-of-fact relating of events to lyrical verse that grips the heart.

A sample from Mother’s Lyric (i);

This is fevered ground

this is how the earth swells

this is the soil’s hot breath meeting the chill

Another taster;

SOMETIMES

Dad, after all these years, I still roll

an orange under my foot in order

to loosen the skin for easy peeling,

you taught me that as a child.

   – You never told me who taught you.

Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese writes of absence and of presence, of love and laughter and of the questions which do not always have answers. All with a delicate and tender touch.

(The collection is available in Cape Town at The Book Lounge, Clark’s Books and Chimurenga. It can also be ordered online from Botsotso via email on botsotso@artslink.co.za.)

 

 

 

Malikhanye by Mxolisi Nyezwa

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Malikhanye

Malikhanye is a poetry collection. I stumbled across it at Adams book shop sale. I paged through it and was instantly captured. I have mixed feelings about poetry; it can be so dense and opaque that I am lost; the words bounce against my brain and collapse back in an incomprehensible heap. These poems however penetrate my mind and my emotions like moisture in the air.

Malikhanye means ‘let it shine’, a beautiful name in itself. It is also the name given to his son who died at the age of 3 months. The poems in the third section express feelings of loss and grief.

Many of the poems, to some extent, express loss, grief and bewilderment though there are some that express love and yearning. The way he juxtaposes the ethereal and the concrete, the natural world and the modern world widens the crack between conscious and unconscious thought. Love and violence, tenderness and cruelty – the human condition captured but not caged.

‘To know you’ is one of my favourites; it expresses all the ways in which the narrator wants to know the loved one. This is a small sample:

i want to know you like a frightened man / like a comma / in a book / with no green shops / no drunken heroes / with three hundred smoking letters / with simple phrases

i want to know you like a woman of indeterminate curves / and simple sighs / and glorious angles  /to eat you like bread

The poet uses the first person but never capitalised; does this denote a universal ‘i’ or is it another way of expressing how small and helpless he feels on this inexplicable world we live in?

Who of us have not wondered this?

i want to know how the sea flows / how the winds blow / and how love is abandoned / why things have to happen like this / oh! so over and over again 

Haunting and mesmerising, lyrical – find this collection if you can.