Monday, 31 October 2011

A Separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda

A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda, published 1971.
This edition, by Simon & Schuster Pocket Book editions, was published in 1975.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A lucky 7 for poet, by Graeme Shackleford

Parkhurst resident Gail Dendy has had her seventh poetry collection published by Dye Hard Press.

Entitled Closer Than That, Dendy' latest work "transports the reader into the world of glittering magical realism".

Married, with cats instead of children, Dendy is a research librarian for an international law firm by day. At night, she writes poetry. Drawing inspiration from nursery rhymes, myths, fables, and biblical and Shakespearean characters, Dendy personalises the world around her.

"My poetry is quite domestic - it's about a woman's environment - and it is always personalised", she said.

The first draft is always handwritten, then she types it onto her computer and begins the editing process."Editing a poem can take days, weeks, or years. It's true that poetry is one percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. You know when a poem is finished - it just clicks," she said.

Dendy said poetry begins with raw talent and cannot be taught. "You have to have the basic talent for poetry. Teachers can help with various styles, but the danger is that the student starts to copy the teacher. That kills your creativity, your own voice", she said.

Her first poetry collection was published in the United Kingdom in 1993, while she was living in London. Nobel prizewinner for literature Harold Pinter was instrumental in the publication of Assault and the Moth, a limited edition.

Since then, Dendy's work has been published in America, South Africa and Austria.

When asked about her future plans, she said: "I've started on my next poetry collection. I've earmarked some poems, but I don't know what shape or form it's going to take."

(Published in the Rosebank Killarney Gazette, October 21 2011)     

Monday, 24 October 2011

Gedigte in die Goudstad: Melville Poetry Festival by Rene Bohnen

Op Saterdag 15 Oktober was gedigte in die Goudstad gratis. Veel liefliker nog: hulle was ook vry. 
Die Melville Poetry Festival het afgeskop op die hoek van Sewende Straat en Vierde Laan. Op soek na parkering toe ek daar aankom, het luide gejuig en lewendige tromspel aangekondig dat die gees reeds hoog loop. Die strate is nie afgesper nie; motors en voetgangers het ewe gemoedelik en behendig die ruimte gedeel. Die sonnige weer het bygedra tot ’n atmosfeer van spontaneïteit en vrolikheid. Ek sien nie dikwels dat ’n gehoor handeklap en saamsing op hulle eie wysies om te harmonieer met gedigte nie. Maar in Mellies vandag gebeur dit: die digters word aangemoedig, toegejuig – daar is suiwer plesier in die lug...Read more here

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Malikhanye by Mxolisi Nyezwa

Malikhanye is the third collection 
by South African poet Mxolisi Nyezwa,
published by Deep South, 2011.  

"Nyezwa's poems are both violent and tender,
with an immediacy of language that strikes
the reader like a cry, or note of music."


all i can make of my country
is a sulphurous compound
a black room with two gigantic stars
as thoroughly silent as corpses

and during the many storms in my life
what happened?
what really happened?
during those nights
what did I really see?

The book is available from bookstores, or order directly from Deep South. Contact for order details.

The Melville Poetry Festival October 2011

Gail Dendy and Selwyn Klass at the launch of Closer Than That

Marie-Lais Emond and Eleanor Di Pasquale (back to camera) in the doorway of the launch venue

From inside the launch venue, looking out on the street

Gail Dendy talking at the launch of Closer Than That

Gail Dendy talking at the launch of Closer Than That

Gail Dendy reading at the launch of Closer Than That

The marching brass band for the festival 

The brass band's banner announcing the festival

Crowd watches the brass band playing; Allan Kolski Horwitz and Siphiwe ka Nywenga at extreme left

Bernat Kruger

Bernat Kruger 

Bernat Kruger

Kobus Moolman 

Kobus Moolman 

Khulile Nxumalo 

Khulile Nxumalo

Khulile Nxumalo 

Alan Finlay 

Alan Finlay 

Alan Finlay 

Arja Salafranca 

Arja Salafranca

Robert Berold talks at the launch of Rosamund Stanford's The Hurricurrent and Mxolisi Nyezwa's Malikhanye

Mxolisi Nyezwa

Rosamund Stanford

Mxolisi Nyezwa

Gary Cummiskey

Gary Cummiskey

Books for sale at the festival

Books for sale at the festival

Books for sale at the festival

Gary Cummiskey talks at the panel discussion 'The Ghost of Wopko Jensma'

Gary Cummiskey talks at the panel discussion 'The Ghost of Wopko Jensma'

Hans Pienaar introduces the panel discussion 'The Ghost of Wopko Jensma'

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Eclectic mix of local short stories, by Janet van Eeden

Book of the Week: The Cream of South African Writers
The editor of this eclectic collection of short stories, Arja Salafranca, sifted through over 100 submissions before she chose stories from the cream of South African writers. There was no theme as such, but it seems as if the stories chosen examine people who are in extreme situations,emotionally or physically.

For example, Arja Salafranca’s moving story about a woman forced to live in a restrictive apparatus in “Iron Lung” is a million miles away stylistically from Aryan Kaganof’s tale of decadence and debauchery on a night out in Durban in “Same Difference.” What is similar, though, is both stories deal with  someone in extremis. The narrator of Kaganof's story is the edge of the emotional abyss. The young woman watching her mother in "Iron Lung" is too. There is no easy way to contemplate a happy future when someone you love is crippled in this way.

There are many gems in this sparkling collection. The enjoyment comes not only from the juxtaposition of many different writers, but also from reading stories with such a variety of subjects.

For example, Liesl Jobson’s “You Pay for The View: Twenty Tips for Super Pics” is a series of verbal snapshots of pivotal moments of a mother trying to find a connection with her children. It is written with poignancy and deep longing. “Doubt” by Gillian Schutte is a study of how passion can seep out of a marriage once the chase is over and when feelings of irrelevance grow due to being part of a couple.

Jenna Mervis’s “The Edge of Things” explores paranormal paranoia in a tangible way and examines the valid fear women feel on a daily basis.

The eternal clash with “the other” is explored in Gail Dendy’s “The Intruders”.  Perd Booysen’s “Sinners and Sinkholes” is a delightful modern-day Hermann Charles Bosmanesque tale of ghost towns and gullibility in the arid wasteland of the Karoo.

There are too many stories to mention individually, and some lend themselves to rereading many times. This is the beauty of the colection: there is something to appeal to all astes. And, fortunately, the real star of The Edge of Things is the genre of the short story itself.

(Published in The Witness, October 12, 2011)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Miss the rugby already? The Melville Poetry Festival Showcase kicks off this Saturday….

Date: Friday October 14th and Saturday October 15th 2011.
Venue: 7th Street, Melville, Johannesburg

The first Melville Poetry Festival Showcase is happening this Friday and Saturday, with an exciting line up of poets writing in all languages set to read and perform their work.

Over 30 poets will be gathering for the festival, with readings, panel discussions, exhibitions, book launches and music taking place at different venues in 7th Street and 4th Avenue. Poets participating include Angifi Dladla, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Robert Berold, Kobus Moolman, Arja Salafranca, Ike Muila, Uhuru Waga Phalafala, the Botsotso Jesters, Toast Coetzer, Loftus Marais, Charl-Pierre Naudé, Johann Lodewyk Marais and Rene Bohnen.

The festival kicks off on Friday 14th October at 9.30am at the old Koffie Huis in 4th Avenue with the Jozi Spoken Word poetry writing and performance workshop where poets young and old can hone their skills under the guidance of established poets and writing teachers. 

On Saturday book launches by Dye Hard Press and Deep South Publishing start the day, before the festival’s official opening at 1.30pm with Ron Smerczak, Yoliswa Mogale, and the Botsotso Jesters. In a creative collaboration entitled ‘Digkyk/Eyepoems’, Naudé, Peter Fincham and Hans Pienaar will mount an exhibition of images integrated with poetry, while a theatre projection called ‘Angels and Stones’ will be narrated by Lionel Murcott. 

Panel discussions include a talk on the influence of Wopko Jensma (‘The Ghost of Wopko Jensma’) and one called ‘Into Poetry: How to Get Young People to Enjoy Wordplay’, facilitated by Pamela Nichols from the Wits Writing Centre. 

Readings and exhibitions carry on throughout the afternoon, with the day wrapping up with a music festival (Andries Bezuidenhout , Planet Lindela Jazz Trio, Riku Latti & Les Javen, and Lithal Li) which will also be used to showcase up-and-coming slam poets. 

“The festival offers a great opportunity to listen and engage with South African poets writing in all languages – and for poets to meet and talk to each other, which doesn’t always happen,” says Alan Finlay, a poet who will also be reading at the event. “I think the panel on Wopko Jensma raises a question about the spirit of South African poetry that’s worth exploring.” 

Allan Kolski-Horwitz, a Botsotso Jester who, together with the Wits Writing Centre, has run Jozi Spoken Word for several years, feels that the idea of intimate readings at cafés and shops in Melville is a unique one. "The blending of students and local residents with a wide range of poets should make for a very stimulating exchange," he says. 

"The plan is to hold a national festival next year, and then to grow it from there – and already several sponsors have shown an interest,” explains Eleanor Koning, one of the organisers of the festival. “That’s why we’re calling this festival a ‘showcase’ – we want to build on it in the future, inviting more poets from around the country and even internationally to take part.” 

“We also need to develop real public festivals – a festival where everyone is welcome and heard and we can together develop our new multicultural, multi-faceted literature,” adds Nichols. “We hope the workshop on Friday will contribute to developing the new South African poetry and we believe that Melville with its bookshops and coffee shops and restaurants and wandering poets is the perfect place to incubate a new and creative literary culture.” 

Books will be on sale at the venues. Come support South African poetry, or just browse around, catching snippets of poems and song, while visiting the local book and coffee shops that line the streets. 

Entrance to all readings, panel discussions and the Friday poetry workshop is free. The slam event and music in the evening costs R15 for students and R30 for adults. To see the full programme for the event, visit The Melville Poetry Facebook Page.


The Melville Poetry Festival Showcase is a collaboration between Marie-lais Edmond, Alan Finlay, Allan Kolski-Horwitz (Botsotso Publishing), Eleanor Koning (Melvilla Guest House), Pamela Nichols (Wits Writing Centre) and Hans Pienaar.

For more information on the festival, please speak to Eleanor Koning on 082 386 4688 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            082 386 4688      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or e-mail her at

To participate in the Jozi Spoken Word poetry workshop, please contact Pamela Nichols at


Featured artists, in order of appearance, include Gail Dendy, Robert Berold, Rosamund Stanford, Mxolsi Nyezwa, Hans Pienaar, Charl-Pierre Naudé, Peter Fincham, Ron Smerczak, Leti Kleyn, Gary Cummiskey, Michael Gardiner, Uhuru waga Phalafala, Vuyo Seripe, Angifi Dladla, Elza Botha, Botsotso Jesters, Farouk Asvat, Yoliswa Mogale, Lionel Murcott, Peter Horn, Ahmed Patel, Frank Meintjies, Mike Alfred, Toast Coetzer, Andries Bezuidenhout, Corne Cotzee, Alan Finlay, Arja Salafranca, Kobus Moolman, Bernat Kruger, Khulile Nxumalo, Johann Lodewyk Marais, Heidi Marais, Rene Bohnen, Loftus Marais, Itumeleng Magope, Chistophe Van Staden, Ellipsis, Rennie Alexander, Rantoloko, Mak Manaka, Thando, Sebilo, Emmah, Flo, Quaz and the bands Planet Lindela Jazz Trio and Lethal Lee. For the full programme see the Melville Poetry Festival facebook page. 

Ask The Dust by John Fante

This novel, written by the relatively little-known John Fante and published in 1939, was a strong influence on Charles Bukowski, who wrote the introduction for this edition, published in 1998 by Canongate, Edinburgh. The novel concerns Arturo Bandini, a young, struggling writer staying in a seedy LA hotel and his strained, and ultimately tragic, relationship with a waitress named Camilla Lopez.  A must-read for any serious admirer of Bukowski's work.

Saturday, 08 October 2011

The Melville Poetry Festival 2011

Just some events at the Melville Poetry Festival on Saturday October 15 include the launch of Gail Dendy's Closer Than That, a panel discussion on 'The Ghost of Wopko Jensma', and poetry by Gary Cummiskey, Arja Salafranca, Victor Khulile Nxumalo, Kobus Moolman, Rene Bohnen, Bernat Kruger and Alan Finlay. Deep South will also be launching new titles by Mxolisi Nyezwa and Rosamund Stamford.

Sunday, 02 October 2011

Gail Dendy in conversation with Janet van Eeden about her poetry collection Closer Than That

Gail Dendy’s new collection, Closer Than That, is full of delicate observations about the human condition, as are many anthologies, but these poems are crafted with the utmost skill and imbued with the musical soul of a dancer.

The poetry lilts and dances in rhythmic metre and one can almost imagine Dendy’s feet keeping time to the words, as if they were notes on a musical score...Read more here