Sunday, 19 December 2010

Postcard reproduction of Man Ray's Le Violon d' Ingres

And the rains came down: a review of alan finlay's pushing from the riverbank by Gakwi Mashego

I am a fan of Alan Finlay. So the moment his latest instalment of poetry, pushing from the riverbank popped in my mailbox, just six days after publisher Gary Cummiskey shipped it, I had that foreplay anticipation that increases your breath and heartbeat. You know those seconds before you are deflowered...Read more here


Tuesday, 07 December 2010

Tania van Schalkwyk wins the Ingrid Jonker Prize for Poetry 2010

South African poet and artist Tania van Schalkwyk has won the Ingrid Jonker Prise for Poetry 2010 for her debut collection Hyphen, published by Electric Book Works. Her work has also appeared in Green Dragon.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Poetry Discussion Panel at BookEx, Sandton November 2010

From left: Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Gary Cummiskey, Helen Moffett and Alan Finlay.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Short, frantic and not that insightful: a review of Misadventures of a COPE volunteer by Michiel le Roux

Considering the leadership battles that continue to wrack the Congress of the People (COPE), it is sometimes hard to believe it was not too long ago that COPE was a newly formed party tipped by hopefuls to become a formidable black-led opposition to the African National Congress (ANC). After all, with the US having elected its first black president, why couldn’t SA undergo a similar radical and unlikely shake-up? Read more here

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Coming soon from Graffiti Kolkata: Sky Dreaming by Gary Cummiskey

Sky Dreaming, a new chapbook of poetry by Gary Cummiskey, to be published by Graffiti Kolkata in January 2011.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Alan Finlay at poetry discussion panel at BookEx, Saturday November 27 2010

This Saturday, 27 November, 4pm at BookEx: Alan Finlay, author of pushing from the riverbank, (newly published by Dye Hard Press) will be on a poetry discussion panel with Helen Moffett (Strange Fruit, Modjaji Books) and Phillippa Yaa De Villiers (The Everyday Wife, Modjaji Books). The discussion will be chaired by Gary Cummiskey.

The venue is the Sandton Convention Centre, Sandton, Johannesburg.

For more information on BookEX, visit

Friday, 05 November 2010

Thursday, 04 November 2010

New Dye Hard Press publication: pushing from the riverbank by alan finlay

Dye Hard Press is proud to announce the publication of pushing from the riverbank by alan finlay.

ISBN: 978-0-620-48421-3

A new collection of 20 poems by one of South Africa's most innovative poets. 46 pages, perfect bound.

One of the poems from the collection is:


i am explaining to my son
you see, crocodiles eat people
“but why?” because they’re meat eaters

because they’re hungry, i don’t know
i begin to build the food chain in my mind.
so that’s why, i finish off

us people watch everywhere we go
and we’re always alert for snakes
and crocodiles (and i could add other things)

i’m telling my three-year-old child
that the world is not so safe
but he knows already: he’s fighting

dragons with his sword, shooting
down dinosaurs, closing the door so
strangers don’t come in. he’s picked up

on the shadows -- they’re real enough
for him. He sits on the edge of the bed,
waiting, watching me get dressed.

Previous titles by alan finlay include Burning Aloes (Dye Hard Press, 1994) No Free Sleeping (with Vonani Bila and Donald Parenzee) (Botsotso, 1998) and The Red Laughter of Guns in Green Summer Rain (with Philip Zhuwao), published by Dye Hard Press in 2002. In 2003 he co-edited with Arja Salafranca glass jars among trees, an alternative anthology of poetry and prose, published by Jacana.

He founded and edited the literary publications Bleksem (1994) donga, with Paul Wessels (2000) and was editor of New Coin poetry journal from 2003 to 2007.

pushing from the riverbank will be available at bookstores countrywide at an estimated retail price of R90. You can also order directly from Dye Hard Press for R65 (including postage).

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Suite Of The Auto-Self With Dread I - Henry Avignon

Henry Avignon is a Rochester, New York-based conceptual photographer (photosculptor) and poet whose primary artistic interest lies in identifying and cultivating art which evokes the myriad signatures of energy everywhere in nature.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Arja Salafranca's The fire in which we burn available as a free ebook

Arja Salafranca's collection of poems, The fire in which we burn, published by Dye Hard Press in 2000 and now out of print, is available as a free ebook.

Salafranca's first poetry collection, A life stripped of illusions, received the 1994 Sanlam Award for poetry, while a short story, ‘Couple on the Beach’ was a winner of the same award in 1999 for short fiction. She co-edited an anthology of prose and poetry, glass jars among trees, which was published by Jacana Media in 2003. Her debut collection of short stories, The Thin Line, was published by Modjaji Books, in 2010. She has also won the DALRO award for poetry in 2010.

You can download The fire in which we burn as a PDF here

Friday, 15 October 2010

Friday, 08 October 2010

September 11 series - drawing 4

Poster for The Lovers

Trailer for The Lovers

The Lovers - a short surrealist film from BlackMilk Productions

Soon after completing Regression in September this year, Ronnie and myself (DR-BENWAY) finalised the script of our latest movie, The Lovers. We began filming on September 19 to finish final edits on October 4. Three locations in Cape Town were selected: an apartment in Gardens, an industrial area in Salt River and the sea front in Mouille Point. Even though the film took about a month to complete from final concept to screen, due to it being worked on over weekends and after hours, The Lovers was completed in about 56 hours....Read more here

(The film contains a poem of mine also called The Lovers)

Tuesday, 05 October 2010

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Poetry as intervention: an interview with Alan Finlay

Alan Finlay lives in Johannesburg where he works as a writer, researcher and editor on issues of media freedoms and internet rights. His poems have appeared in various journals locally and abroad, and short selections of his poetry have been published by small presses. Over the years he has founded and edited a number of literary publications, including Bleksem and donga (with Paul Wessels). With Arja Salafranca he co-edited a collection of prose and poetry called glass jars among trees (Jacana, 2003). He was editor of New Coin poetry journal from 2003-2007. His latest collection of poems, pushing from the riverbank, is to be published by Dye Hard Press in October 2010.

To read the interview, click here

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Spring 2010 issue of Incwadi

Check out the Spring 2010 issue of Incwadi, a South African online journal of poetry and photography. This issue of Incwadi includes poems by Robert Berold, Ingrid Andersen, Gary Cummiskey, Isabel Dixon, Gus Ferguson, Sarah Frost, Colleen Higgs, Aryan Kaganof, Aryan Salafranca, Kobus Moolman, Fiona Zerbst and many others.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Sunday, 05 September 2010

(Un)veiling by Mandilakhe Yengo

A short film by Mandilakhe Yengo, starring Alude Mahali, and based on my poem 'Corner Cafe' from the collection, Today is their Creator. The film was premiered as part of South Africa's City Breath Festival of Video Performance and Poetry.

Saturday, 04 September 2010

A daisy in the memory of a shark - Pete Winslow

A daisy in the memory of a shark is a collection of poems by little known US surrealist poet Pete Winslow, published by City Lights Books in 1973. Winslow was just 37 when he died the year before as a result of complications following surgery. He had published a handful of small collections since the early 1960s. There is very little information about Winslow on the internet.

Lines from some of the poems in A daisy in the memory of a shark read as follows:

I called the ocean by its first name
I became an eon but a billion years passed in an instant...

A strange wind carries children to the tops of buildings...

How may I become your clothes when you are so lovely nude
This is the problem of the moon
Whose solution is to disappear...

The invisible telephones of the wind are ringing...

I am famous for the beer which flows from my hair...

Morning stretched its layers of light so softly
That hundreds of night creatures caught unaware
Run about on the table while we have coffee...

I bid my life for the girl tasting of poppies...

The murmur of the city is the beginning of the earthquake...

Your eyelids close
And you inspect me with your alternate eyes...

My pillow over my face
Its hair turning my mind to feathers...

My portrait is ill today its hair is falling out...

Sinclair Beiles: The first poet in space by Heathcote Williams

“The poetry of Sinclair Beiles is distinguished and long distilled; its unexpected striking images bring a flash of surprised recognition. The poems open slowly in your mind, like Japanese paper flowers in water.”

William Burroughs

Despite Burroughs’ impressive recommendation Sinclair Beiles often fell asleep during his own poetry readings thanks to a hefty diet of prescription drugs which Sinclair would carry around in a large plastic bag and which were always placed beside him on-stage so as to be within easy reach. This was a pity since Sinclair’s poems, as Burroughs had attested, were worth listening to, once he could be aroused...Full text available as a PDF here
(This piece was first published in The Raconteur. Copyright: Heathcote Williams)

Friday, 03 September 2010

Forthcoming publication from Dye Hard Press: pushing from the riverbank by Alan Finlay

ISBN: 978-0-620-48421-3

A new collection of 20 poems by one of South Africa's most innovative poets. 44 pages.

Publication scheduled for the end of October.
Price and availability to be confirmed.

Previous titles by Alan Finlay include Burning Aloes (Dye Hard Press, 1994) No Free Sleeping (with Vonani Bila and Donald Parenzee) (Botsotso, 1998) and The Red Laughter of Guns in Green Summer Rain (with Philip Zhuwao), published by Dye Hard Press in 2002. In 2003 he co-edited with Arja Salafranca glass jars among trees, an alternative anthology of poetry and prose, published by Jacana.

He founded and edited the literary publications Bleksem (1994) donga, with Paul Wessels (2000) and was editor of New Coin poetry journal from 2003 to 2007.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Qui était Sinclair Beiles? - Dionysos Andronis

Avec cette collection d'essais le poète Gary Cummiskey rend hommage posthume à son compatriote homologue Sinclair Beiles (1930-2000). Nous avions écrit un article sur le dernier recueil de Cummiskey Aujourd'hui est leur Créateur (voir notre Kagablog du mois de décembre 2008). Cette fois, nous aimerions tirer votre attention sur cette collection essentielle. Nous avions acquis une bonne impression de Cummiskey comme critique littéraire par sa revue Green Dragon. Maintenant avec cette collection d'essais notre première impression est confirmée.

Ce n'est pas parce que Beiles est resté longtemps en Grèce que nous avons été motivés pour écrire cet article mais par le fait que Beiles était un proche des beatniks américains et qu'il est resté pendant un moment à Paris. Il avait co-habité avec eux à l'Hôtel parisien Beat (aujourd'hui renommé "Relais Hôtel Vieux Paris"). "Le fait que Beiles avait une collaboration avec les écrivains Beat à Paris était une coincidence brève. Le fait aussi qu'il était plus un fan qu'un similaire dans cet hôtel Beat ne renverse pas son identité Beat" (une citation de Eva Kowalska, op.cit., page 85).

Le critique littéraire américain George Dillon Slater écrit : "Sinclair à Athènes faisait son autopromotion et pratiquait la psychanalyse dans un café près de la place Kolonaki. C'était une bonne idée parce que les Grecs s'autoproclament extrêmement intelligents", op.cit. page 67. Cette touche ironique de Slater vient compléter notre estimation personnelle de cette "inteligentsia du café expresso" grecque et pourrait justifier la dépression nerveuse de Sinclair Beiles en Grèce : "Souvent Sinclair était interné dans une clinique grecque pour retablir et après il venait chez moi dans l'île de Hydra pour reposer" (op.cit. page 63).

Gary Cummiskey est un poète important et avec ce livre il nous confirme qu'il est aussi un grand humaniste des lettres.

Friday, 06 August 2010

India-based poetry book sparks US customs interest

"My good friend Subhankar Das in Kolkata is a poet and publisher "at the epicenter of the underground movement in Bangla literature" as a colleague accurately and aptly puts it. He's a deep and passionate writer, great thinker, funny guy, and can out-chain smoke you...

"In 2009, Subho expanded his activities: going online with vengeance, he is now curating and publishing poets from across the globe and getting some of his and other Bangla writers' works translated into other tongues.These publishing efforts are documented on the Graffiti-Kolkata blogzine , and recently culminated in the printing and publishing of The Stark Electric Space, an international anthology of indie writers" more here

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Illustrated book covers

I really love the illustrated covers that books used to have and a big regret of mine was letting slip the opportunity to buy an excellent big book on the history of book covers in the 20th century ( or maybe since the advent of the paperback explosion, I can't recall).

Anyway, here are just some illustrated covers of books in my library at home.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Light and After by Kobus Moolman

New poems from Pietermaritzburg poet Kobus Moolman, published by Deep South. Contact for order details.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Linda Stenman on Romancing the Dead

Romancing the Dead (Tearoom Books, 2009) is a short collection of prose poems.

The poems are beautiful, provoking and sometimes shocking. All of them are good and some are very good.

To read Gary Cumminskey is a special experience that shouldn’t be missed! My personal favourite is the title story. And I really like the cover.

I say: ***(**)Thank you Tearoom Books for the review copy.

First published on Linda Loves Books.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Rough Travel: poems by Jeffrey S. Callico

A collection of 24 incisive domestic vignettes, reminiscent in style of William Carlos Williams. Published by Graffiti Kolkata Press.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

The Dye Hard Interviews

Dye Hard Press is proud to announce the launch of a new blog called The Dye Hard Interviews.

The Dye Hard Interviews will contain interviews with writers, poets and small publishers throughout the world, focusing on the non-mainstream.

The blog kicks off with an interview with South African writer Arja Salafranca, whose debut short fiction collection The Thin Line was recently published by Modjaji Books and who has just received the prestigious Darlo Award for her poem 'Steak' in literary journal New Coin.

The blog also contains interviews with Australian poet and artist Philip Hammial, first published in Green Dragon 5, and wth South African poet Vonani Bila, first published in The Weekender.

Dye Hard Press will keep you informed as and when new interviews are published.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Invite to the first Jozi WordJam - Friday 23rd July

Featuring four poets
& open mic

Join us every 3rd Friday for an evening of great food and wine and the spoken word.

Friday 23rd July - 7pm (R20 cover charge)

Gail Dendy was first published by Harold Pinter in 1993, and her six collections of poetry have appeared variously in SA, the UK and USA. She is an internationally trained dancer, and helped pioneer Contemporary Dance in SA between the late 1970s and the early ‘90s. Other passions are environmental- and animal-rights issues. She lives in Johannesburg together with family, pets, a law library, and a huge collection of Rock ’n Roll.

Marcia Nonkululeko Tladi is a writer of poetry and prose. Her poetry is collected in Timbila journal and in Words Gone Two Soon (Umgangato), a tribute to K. Sello Duiker and PhaswanevMpe. Marcia is a contributing member of the Miriam Tlali Book & Reading Club, a brainchild of Write Associates where she helps to run the Children’s Club. She has also worked with the Johannesburg Library and Information Services, adjudicating in their writing and poetry competitions.

Khulile Nxumalo was born in Diepkloof, Soweto, in 1971. He lives in Johannesburg and pays the rent by working in television as a writer, researcher and director. His poems have been published in South Africa, Canada, the UK and US. His first collection, Ten flapping elbows, mama, was published by Deep South in 2004. He is working on two manuscripts of poetry.

Alan Finlay founded and edited the literary publications Bleksem (1994) and donga (with Paul Wessels, 2000), and also edited New Coin poetry journal (ISEA) for four years from Dec. 2003 - Dec. 2007. In 2003 he co-edited glass jars among trees (Jacana) with Arja Salafranca. His poems have appeared in various journals locally and abroad, and short selections of his poetry have been published by Dye Hard Press (1994, 2002), Botsotso (1998), and online at Southern Rain Poetry (2009). A new collection of his poems is due out by Dye Hard Press in 2010.

Contact 011 615 7531 – The Bell Pepper, 176 Queen Street – Kensington

See link below for map

To take part in future readings and a series of planned literary salons in the coming months please mail Gillian or Arja at

Sunday, 04 July 2010

Towards the digital future

According to this year's Reading the Future report, only 26% of UK book buyers had heard of a Kindle, only 41% knew what a Sony Reader was, and an overwhelming 70% said they had no intention of buying an eReader. From a South African perspective, these figures were an eye-opener, particularly in view of many South African readers' resistance to the concept of ebooks... Read more here

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Drawing 33

The Margins of a Central Man - Yannis Livadas

Twenty-one poems by Greek poet Yannis Livadas published by Graffiti Kolkata. If you are drawn to surrealism, Blaise Cendrars or the beats, these are poems for you.

Cost is $4.Order from Graffii Kolkata.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Friday, 21 May 2010

Drawing 31

Monday, 17 May 2010

(Un)veiling by Mandilakhe Yengo

The City Breath Festival of Video Performance and Poetry includes the showing of (Un)veiling, a short film by Mandilakhe Yengo, starring Alude Mahali, and based on the poem 'Corner Cafe' from Gary Cummiskey's collection Today is their Creator.

(Un)veiling explores voyeurism and the power of the gaze. In the midst of the bustle of constrained living spaces in the city, privacy becomes a necessity but isn’t always a given.
The city has eyes; it covers and uncovers and someone is always watching- hidden or revealed. Using the poem as its premise, (Un)veiling looks at the fine line between seeing, being seen and not seeing.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Drawing 30

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Creative nonfiction: a new approach to journalism - Arja Salafranca

Writer Chuck Palahniuk is off to interview movie star Juliette Lewis. Afterwards he’s going to write a profile of the actress called ‘In her own words’. A bold promise is implied in that title, but in his piece Palahniuk more than lives up to that promise:

“One time,” Juliette Lewis says, “I wanted to get to know someone better by writing down questions to him…” She says, “The questions are more telling about me than anything I could write in a diary.”
She’s holding a handwritten list she’s just found and reads:“Did you ever stab someone or cut them intentionally with a sharp object?”
She reads: “Do you like asparagus?”
She reads: “Do you have a middle name?”
“Do cats frustrate you as pets, or do you admire their independence?”
Over the past twenty-four hours, she’s talked about her family, her father (Geoffrey Lewis), her career, the Scientology thing, getting married and writing songs. The songs are important because after years of being scripted, these are her words now.

Whenever people ask me what creative non-fiction, or creative journalism is, I point them to this essay. In 10 pages Palahniuk gets under the skin of Lewis, and whether or not you’re interested in the actress, and I wasn’t and am not, you keep on reading. There’s an immediacy to this piece achieved by the use of present tense throughout. Palahniuk talks to Lewis’s mother, follows her as she grinds coffee beans, and is there when the VCR breaks down. Throughout Palahniuk sprinkles the narrative with Lewis’s handwritten notes: “What’s the first image you have of the female body?” and “Do you look more like your father or your mother?” and “Did you ever fall in love with an animal in a way where you wished you could talk like human friends?”

Lewis is right: these questions reveal as much about her own preoccupations, concerns and interests as they would about anyone else. Palahniuk is playing interviewer, but so is Lewis. And you get a picture of this woman who is living in a rented house in Hollywood Hills, stark modern and yet filled with antique furniture. Juliette Lewis is alive in this piece – Palahniuk gained an unusual access to her life, an access that is rarely granted to most journalists. But he’s used it well: he hasn’t written a standard profile – he glosses over the “Scientology thing” as though it doesn’t matter, and only later driving past the Scientology Centre does he describe why she is into the religion. A regular, magazine or newspaper profile would have, I believe, leaped right into the Scientology thing, that’s the sensational part, “our readers would be interested in that aspect,” you can hear an editor saying. Imagine the coverline on a glossy mag: “Lewis says Scientology keeps her sane.” Would you want to buy it?

And yet, narrative journalism, creative non-fiction, call it what you will – it has a lot of names – is about much more than sensationalism. It’s about getting to the heart of a matter, or a person; it’s about using fiction techniques to tell a non-fiction story, it’s about making a piece of writing sing and spark, it’s about using words in a way that few writers of non-fiction dare to. In part that’s because it’s not expected of them. In South Africa, particularly, we have such a limited, unadventurous sense of journalism and reportage that creative non-fiction feels like a breath of fresh air. In the US you can subscribe to a journal called Creative Non-fiction, where all these techniques are used to astounding effect.

In an anthology called In Fact: The Best of Creative Non-fiction, I read ‘Finder’s Keepers: The Story of Joey Coyle’ by Mark Bowden. In 30 pages of writing the pace doesn’t flag once. You could be reading a gripping crime story. This excellent piece reads like fiction because Bowden uses direct speech, lively description, and rounded character observation. See for yourself.

Here’s an extract:

Day One
Coming down made Joey Coyle feel desperate and confused. When he was high the drug
filled his chest and head with gusts of power so great he could barely breathe or think fast enough. This was how Joey spent his nights. When he slept it was during the day.

You don’t get more immediate than that. You’re inside Joey’s head now, 28-year-old Joey, working on the docks in Philadelphia in 1981 and still living in his mom’s house. The story is about Joey and two friends who find $1.2 million that had fallen out of a truck. They try to get away with keeping the money, even though they were spotted taking it. The story follows Joey’s increasing unease and obsession with trying to find a safe place to stash the money. Writer Bowden is right there, we’re there, in Philadelphia with the cops cruising the streets, looking for the make of car Joey and friends were driving, watching as Joey hides the money in first one place then another. In the notes which follow this piece, Bowden writes: “Scenes, dialogue, characters, plot, foreshadowing, metaphor, interior monologue … you name it, I use every technique I’ve ever read and admired.”

There are all sorts of narrative journalism, you can just as easily describe a Jewish divorce ceremony as the process of being shunned by your community or describe a misdiagnosis of cancer. These are all personal essays also found in this anthology and all take a different approach to telling their stories. Yet each is gripping. We’re not talking static essays here, such as the type most of us remember being forced to write at school, the type many of us run away from reading. “Essays are boring” seems to be the implicit assumption, and yes, they can be and sometimes are. But that’s only because the writer hasn’t gone to enough trouble, hasn’t taken delight in the language, hasn’t played with the process of writing and has simply stated facts in old boring ways. It doesn’t have to be like that.

The writers here know it, US novelist Barbara Kingsolver knows it, South African writer Don Pinnock knows it.

In her 1995 book High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never Kingsolver weaves the personal with more wide-ranging subjects. She uses humour and colloquial language to talk about some serious stuff; you never feel you have to wade through this because it’s really worthy and you really should be reading something other than all those escapist novels. She has a child (she’s since had another), and this child peppers many of her essays. “Civil Disobedience at Breakfast” begins with a description of their lives together:

I have a child who was born with the gift of focus, inclined to excel at whatever she earnestly pursues. Soon after her second birthday she turned to the earnest pursuit of languor, and shot straight through to the ranks to world-class dawdler. I thought it would be my death.

Like any working stiff of a mother keeping the family presentable and solvent, I lived in a flat-out rush. My daughter lived on Zen time. These doctrines cannot find peace under one roof.

But this isn’t a personal essay about life with a daughter on Zen time; it’s more wide- ranging than that. This is an essay about raising children, about giving them independence (or not), about reliving your own childhood as a parent, about the effect of parents’ behaviour on their own children, about the pull between wanting to be creative and having to watch another theatrical performance where the monster is tied up with Day-Glo shoelaces and pantyhose.

Kingsolver writes about nature, the Dewey decimal system, about divorce in a personal sense as well as a more abstract one travelling, and living in another country, the Spanish islands, the Canary Islands.

How’s this for the opening of a travel piece from ‘Somebody’s Baby’:

As I walked out of the street entrance to my newly rented apartment, a guy in maroon high-tops and a skateboard haircut approached me, making kissing noises and saying, “Hi gorgeous”. Three weeks earlier I would have assess the degree of malice and made ready to run or tell him to bug off, depending. But, now, instead, I smiled, and so did my four-year-old daughter, because after dozens of similar encounters I understood he didn’t mean me but her.This was not the United States.

And then there’s Don Pinnock, associate editor at Getaway magazine, which means he gets to go lots of places and send back emails saying he’s in Paris this week, or wherever. It also means he gets to meet a lot of interesting people, to write columns on travel and the natural world, and makes even earthworms sounds interesting. Or bats. Bats? Yes bats. No fan of them myself, although that’s my own prejudice and ignorance, I kept on reading about them and other subjects I wouldn’t even have given a second thought to in essay after essay in Natural Selections and Love Letters to Africa.

In “Notes from Heaven” Pinnock finds himself in the Umfolozi wilderness:

The ripple of frogs counterpoints a night so still the ants seem to be walking on tiptoes. High overhead, tamboti and knobthorn trees are catching stars and a comet or two in their interlaced branches. … It feels good to be down on the naked skin of Africa in the small hours. I’m on night watch, probing the perimeter with a torch somehow less bright than my imagination, peering for predators and unwelcome ungulates: wishing them absent; hoping they’re there…

This is not common garden-variety travel writing. This is not the type of unadventurous story that recounts a trip from day one, arrival, to day 10, departure, and a sun sinks into the horizon type of story. Pinnock not so much pushes the boundaries as creates new ways of saying things, of making seemingly dry facts palatable, interesting and fascinating. From camels to dams to mediations on global warming, you’re with him all the way, urged on by his humour and his chatty tone.

The writers I have included here have created their own styles of writing. Each has a distinct voice, one that urges you with its creativity and uniqueness. And this is the type of writing that should be gracing our newspapers and magazines. It’s writing that lives beyond that day’s or that month’s deadline, it’s writing that makes you want to read while opening a window on the world.

Some books to look up:

Non-Fiction: True Stories by Chuck Palahniuk
Natural Selections: The African Wanderings of a Bemused Naturalist. Love Letters to Africa and African Journeys by Don Pinnock
In Fact: The Best of Creative Non-fiction Edited by Lee Gutkind
High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never by Barbara Kingsolver
Small Wonder: Essays
The Best American Essay series, published annually by Houghton Mifflin Company
The White Album by Joan Didion
Holidays in Hell by PJ O’Rourke

Copyright: Arja Salafranca

(First published as Dye Hard Press Newsletter 10)

Saturday, 08 May 2010

Green Dragon 4 available as a free ebook

Green Dragon 4, published in 2006 and now out of print, contains poetry and prose by Goodenough Mashego, Michelle McGrane, Colleen Higgs, Philip Hammial, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Mxolisi Nyezwa, Amanda van Rooyen, Liesl Jobson, Les Merton, Lionel Murcott, Arja Salafranca, Valery Oisteanu, Makhosazana Xaba, Kobus Moolman, Aryan Kaganof, Joop Bersee, Haidee Kruger, Silke Heiss, Gus Ferguson, Bernat Kruger, Tania van Schalkwyk, Alan Finlay, Richard Fox and Gary Cummiskey.
Green Dragon 4 can be downloaded for free here

Friday, 07 May 2010

Drawing 29

Friday, 30 April 2010

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Notas uit die empire - Hans Pienaar

Hans Pienaar, Notas uit die empire, published by Alto-Media, Johannesburg, Price R150

ISBN: 978-06-620-4509-7

A few generations ago a number of empires were to be found. Then two remained, and then only one. Today there are none, just “empire” stretching across the universe, in the virtual spaces inbetween and around it. Its headquarters are everywhere, and nowhere. All are in its service, and all are in revolt against it.

Hans Pienaar’s second collection of Afrikaans poetry tells of this empire, and who the new emperor is, and how we live in it. The poems draw from trips as a foreign correspondent to countries as diverse as Iraq and Norway, Mali and China, the Central African Republic and Italy.

The collection also contains two series of “photopoems”, some of which been exhibited in Oudtshoorn, Stellenbosch and Johannesburg.

Pienaar’s first collection, Die taal van voëls, was shortlisted for the prestigious Ingrid Jonker prize for 2002. He is also known as a playwright, winning awards and nominations for plays such as Three dozen roses and Ching Chong Che.

Email for order details.

Drawing 27

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Sunnyside Sal - Anton Krueger

Anton Krueger's debut novel Sunnyside Sal is published by Deep South. It is a tale of the friendship between two boys brought up during the dying years of apartheid and the first years of the new SA. It traces their lives as fortunes and choices change, producing many moments of comedy and sadness along the way.

Some of Krueger's poems have appeared in Green Dragon.