Thursday, 31 October 2013


Poetry that creates an interactive space: a review of Khulile Nxumalo's fhedzi, by Kyle Allan

fhedzi, subtitled iamgoingtoknowgwalopatterns, is the second volume of poetry published by innovative South African poet Khulile Nxumalo.

He continues in his craftsman’s ability to take words and syntax, and the process of language and the meaning attached to everyday symbols, and startlingly evokes fresh and potent perceptions of reality.

His technical ability to play with normal notions of time, space, the nature of the political and reality, reveals the sense of unease in contemporary existence. This encourages the reader to continue beyond the poem, to engage more critically with the larger text that is society.

It is a boldly pan-African voice that breathes in many iconoclastic continental influences. The words trumpet in an interactive space where language and reality make each other. The reader can visualise a restless electric choreography in the words. The subtitle comes from the decorative geometric Ndebele patterns and paintings known as Mgwalo, and this echoes the way the poems and their language encircle each other with meaning.

To understand fhedzi, you have to think of the words inhabiting an interactive space—much like the geometric drawings — which interact with culture, cosmology and the real world around them. They reflect patterns within reality — the order and disorder co-existing.The language both creates new patterns and destroys clichéd patterns of speech and belief through its ability to estrange even ordinary speech effectively.

The incorporation of different languages embraces the reality of poetry as a dialogue of culture, a process in which language itself evolves.The title is TshiVenda, meaning “only, but almost, nearly”, which is also a contraction of fhedzani, meaning “to complete”.

The language expands to both participate in reality and recreate perceptions of reality with its metaphors and poetic syntax. This is a highly skilled technicalwork that evokes the surrealism and interlocking process of South African society. It is a strong read, albeit probably heavy for the layman at first attempt.

(Published in The Witness, September 27, 2013) 

Launch of Off-ramp by Gary Cummiskey on November 13 at Love Books, Melville

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Review of Kobus Moolman's Left Over

The mostly nameless poems in Left Over, Moolman's sixth collection, are hard to crack at first. Sense emerges from the whole, rather than the constituent parts.

A bleak narrative unfolds the story of a mind adrift in a body that requires from both narrator and reader absolute attention.

The feeling of containment within skin, set off against the boundary-less flapping into madness of the mind, is intensely and carefully carried through the whole work.  Progression hides inside the repetition that manifests itself in each poem in the corporeal.

Moolman uses simple, exact language to delve into abysses where the usual boundaries between inside and outside, between body and mind, should exist. The reader's fine attention and engagement are required, and richly rewarded.

Karin Schimke

(Published in Cape Times) 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Second book means it’s read poet’s society

After watching the award- winning poet, Khulile Nxumalo, perform on the opening night of Poetry Africa at UKZN, I woke up early the next day and in the rising Durban spring sun read some of his poems from his latest book, fhedzi.

What was surprising was that, unlike many of his counterparts who chose on the previous night one long poem for their five minutes on stage, Nxumalo chose four short poems. Yet, in fhedzi he has used longer forms of poetry in almost all of the published work...Read more here

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Kobus Moolman wins 2013 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award

Kobus Moolman has won the 2013 Sol Plaatje European Union Award for his poem “Daily Duty”. Moolman was announced as the winner on Saturday evening at the 17th annual Poetry Africa International Poetry Festival, where The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol III, comprising the best poems by the shortlistees, was also launched...Read more here

Moolman's latest poetry collection, Left Over, is published by Dye Hard Press

Friday, 18 October 2013

Poetraits by Henry Denander

Poetraits, a collection of watercolour portraits by Henry Denander, published by Bottle of Smoke Press, Delaware, US.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

An infinite variety of form: A review of Allan Kolski Horwitz's There are Two Birds at my Window

When you scan the title of this volume, you make an important discovery: the personal pronoun is unstressed, and that is the key to appreciating a remarkable poet. The stressed parts are the two birds and the window. The birds symbolise the world and the soul; the window is the threshold, the veil, where art and nature merge. Horwitz is a poet of what Keats called “gusto”, that is a recognition of the necessity of opposites, as binaries (the world) and as paradoxes (the soul).
The first poem, “Mzansi, my Beginning – Mzansi, my End”, alludes to Allen Ginsberg – another Jewish poet a long way from his spiritual home in the desert where you lose yourself to find yourself....Read more here

Monday, 14 October 2013

The dream continues

Launch of Zapp

ZAPP is a collaborative project on Southern African Poetry between Wits and Cambridge Universities. It aims to include and link universities, schools, teachers, teacher educators and practising poets across the country. ZAPP is about the power of South African Poetry, Word and Sound. The project will run from 2014-2016 and will be launched on Sunday 20 October in Melville and on Tuesday 22 October at Wits (Main Campus).

We invite you to attend both launches in your capacity as scholar, poet, teacher, student, or sheer poetry lover.

Poetry performances and an introduction to ZAPP.
Free workshops, panels, book launches, storytelling and fabulous poetry from local greats.

Outline of ZAPP by local and Cambridge representatives
Poetry reading and performance
Refreshments and snacks
Follow-up Special Interest session (optional)
Special Interest session immediately after launch for people who wish to participate in any part of the project during any phase. Please stay to signal your interest in any of the following: organisation and admin: poetry events; symposium; implementation in schools; teacher workshops; publications (Special Edition; Anthology; Teaching Manual and Guidelines) We welcome all those who are interested in making a contribution to the invigoration, promotion, study, teaching and writing of Southern African poetry to attend one or both of the launches.

Sunday 20 October, 13:00 – 18:00, at 7th Street venues -
The Lucky Bean, Sophiatown, Bambanani Restaurants and the IT café.
ZAPP LAUNCH 17:00 at Lucky Bean.

Tuesday 22 October, 16:00 - 17:00
Wits Writing Centre, Ground Floor, Wartenweiler Library, Wits Main
Campus, Braamfontein.
Special Interest Session: 17h00 – 18h00.

We look forward to seeing you!
Parking: Yale Road and Origins Centre, Wits University

RSVP and
Enquiries 011 717 4125 (Wits Writing Centre)
083 233 5270
084 678 1365

Friday, 11 October 2013

New title from Dye Hard Press: Off-ramp by Gary Cummiskey

Off-ramp is the debut short fiction collection of Gary Cummiskey and consists of ten stories often characterised by a surreal eroticism. Set mainly in contemporary South Africa, the book opens with a young man’s hallucinatory encounter with a derelict in a Johannesburg street; there is a couple’s visit to a sinister Free State farm; an editor who reluctantly agrees to meet an aspiring woman writer at midnight; two young men who go out on a drinking spree as the country teeters on civil war; a restless teenager who stalks an unknown woman; and a middle-aged academic who engages in an obsessive, sadistic relationship with a prostitute.

The stories in this startling collection offer a vision of individuals who are slowly being devoured by paranoia and absurdity. Beyond the off-ramp lies a pervasive, heavy dread and an unnameable, perhaps unknowable fear. Cummiskey creates an off-kilter reality that is both disturbing and compelling. 

140 pages.
ISBN: 978-0-9869982-3-2
Estimated retail price: R145.00

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Thursday, 03 October 2013

Deadline for applications for Rhodes MA in Creative Writing 2014

The deadline for applications for Rhodes MA in Creative Writing 2014 is coming up on October 31st. You can do the course full time over one year in Grahamstown, or part time over two years from where you live. The MA includes 16 weeks of coursework from wide range of teachers plus a book-length creative work which could be in English, isiXhosa or Afrikaans.  This can be a novel, non-fiction work, playscript, short story collection or poetry collection. All the teachers on the course are practising writers. Entry to the course requires a twenty page-portfolio of creative work and an honours degree. If you don’t have the necessary formal qualifications. entry to the course is still possible with an extensive publication record and/or outstanding potential as a writer. 

Go to  to find out more or email

On land