Thursday, 17 September 2009

Interview with Gary Cummiskey and Eva Kowalska about Who was Sinclair Beiles? on Litnet

Interviewer Janet van Eeeden: I found Who Was Sinclair Beiles? a fascinating read. It was so interesting to read about Sinclair Beiles, someone I didn't know much about, from so many different perspectives. The interviews between Beiles and Gary Cummiskey and Beiles and dawie malan especially throw much light on the nature of the man himself. The essays by Cummiskey, malan, Earle Holmes, Alan Finlay, Eva Kowalska, George Dillon Slater and Fred de Vries serve to delve behind the man's words and give us a glimpse into a unique character. I'd be grateful if you answered a few of my questions about this enigmatic man....Read more here

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Berold on Beiles

Poet Robert Berold writes about Who Was Sinclair Beiles?:

I thought the Beiles book was excellent - nice balance of interviews and essays, thorough bibliography, well edited, good design, readable and inviting. And as far as I know the first non-academic book about poetry to appear in South Africa for years (ever?). Definitely not a booklet as Stephen Gray called it in his M&G non-review. I wish all our poets got such attentive treatment.

It's sad that Beiles's work and his mental state went kind of downhill. But he did write some good poems - the best of them of full of startling images, going off on tangents in interesting ways. An aesthetic that no other South African was doing. And he wrote about his madness with courage and humour.

I had a few meetings with him, and like everyone else, had to deal with his erratic attitude (which started with his proclaiming me a great poet and degenerated over time to the death threat 'by spells' quoted in Dawie Malan's essay).

Once when I was visiting him, he said "Would you like a suitcase?" and produced a very battered very heavy leather suitcase. Which my computer monitor now sits on - so I live with a reminder of Beiles every day.

Perhaps in his later years, his real creation was a character called Sinclair Beiles. But I hope Dye Hard will prove there was also a poet called Sinclair Beiles by publishing a 'best of' selection.

More praise for Green Dragon 6

Respected writers such as Kobus Moolman, Aryan Kaganof and Kelwyn Sole feel that Green Dragon 6 is the best issue yet produced!
Contributors to this issue of Green Dragon are Alan Finlay, Arja Salafranca, Haidee Kruger, Janet van Eeden, Joop Bersee, Kelwyn Sole, Kobus Moolman, Tania van Schalkwyk, Megan Hall, Cecilia Ferriera, Anton Krueger, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Goodenough Mashego, David wa Maahlamela, Vonani Bila, Mphutlane wa Bofelo, Aryan Kaganof, Neo Molefe Shameeyaa, Colleen Higgs, Gus Ferguson, Brent Meersman, Kai Lossgott, Daniel Browde, Ingrid Andersen, Gary Cummiskey, Mick Raubenheimer and Mxolisi Nyezwa. Lyrics from Durban folk group The Litchis.
Green Dragon 6 will soon be in selected bookstores throughout South Africa for an estimated retail price of R80. You can, however, obtain a copy from the publisher for R65 a copy, inclusive of postage (add on R15 for overseas orders).
Write to for order details.

Thursday, 03 September 2009

New from Tearoom Books: Romancing the Dead by Gary Cummiskey

Tearoom Books is pleased to announce the publication of Romancing the Dead by Gary Cummiskey. This small collection of 11 prose poems from one of South Africa's leading underground poets displays writing that is laconic, unfussy, surreal, morbidly humourous and unsentimental.The world presented in it is one where the rules of causality have either broken down or are on their last legs. It is thus an absurd world, but, and this is Cummiskey's talent, it is also a world that is instantly and, in some cases, frighteningly recognisable.

Available at R40 including postage (R50 for overseas orders). For order information, contact

Tuesday, 01 September 2009

Kaganof on Who was Sinclair Beiles?

eventually one has to love gary cummiskey. he does not give up. he’s the kind of irascible soul that always draws trouble. something about his pugnacious nature attracts difficulties. if it can go wrong at a printer it will. twice. gary’s often stuck in traffic. the waiter dusts more flies into his soup. but unlike most people you’ve ever met who share this streak of disaster-attraction - cummiskey hasn’t got it in him to throw in the towel. you would have thought after years of publishing small press editions to little or no acclaim from the precarious south african literature “establishment” that gary would see the light and stop bothering. thank the gods he’s not that sort of bloke. gary persists. his persistency is the stuff of local literary legend.

green dragon 6 is the best edition of his literary journal to date. and this volume about the late yeoville beat poet sinclair beiles is worth its weight in genetically modified stem cells. it keeps beiles alive. a collection of essays by the likes of alan finlay, fred de vries, co-editor eva kowalska and gary himself, the book sheds shards of splintered, diffused and hazy light on the figure of beiles whose reputation is based largely on memories of his surly frame sitting truculently outside coffee society in rockey street, chain smoking irritably - has anyone ever read any of his poems?

in yeoville in 1994 to film nice to meet you, please don’t rape me i was introduced to beiles by my co-screenwriter peter j. morris, himself an equally taciturn, sour-bellied type. the two of them found things to grumble about. it was impossible for me to talk to beiles. he just seemed too far gone in a vinegary disposition exacerbated by the brutal disappointment of never having ‘made it’ (whatever that means to a poet). but this volume opens the man up. dawie malan’s exquisite essay “the trouble with sinclair beiles” resuscitates the poet, gives him a fragile, vulnerable soul - and reveals librarian dawie to be one of our most sensitive writers.

this book is essential. one day somebody will be collating a set of essays asking the question “who is gary cummiskey?”he deserves better. he deserves to be lionised now.

First published here