1 December 7pm: Launch of In the Heat of Shadows
We’d love you to join us for the book launch of In the Heat of Shadows: South African Poetry 1996-2013, an evening celebrating the language and rhythms of South Africa. The anthology, edited by Denis Hirson, includes work by many of South Africa’s leading poets.
For the launch, readings from the anthology will be accompanied by music. The readers are: poets from the anthology, Isobel Dixon and Kate Kilalea; a translator of the poetry from the anthology into English, Mike Dickman; Paris-based writers Nancy Huston and Ellen Hinsey; actress Sonia Emmanuel; debating maestro Declan McCavana; and Denis Hirson. Steve Potts will play the saxophone.
In the Heat of Shadows: South African Poetry 1996-2013, edited by Denis Hirson, presents work by 32 poets and includes some translations from Afrikaans, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, and Xitsonga.
South African poetry today is charged with restlessness, bursting with diversity. Gone is the intense inward focus required to deal with a situation of systematic oppression, the enclosing effort of concentration on a single predicament. While politics and identity continue to be central themes, the poetry since the late 1990s reveals a richer investigation of ancestors and history, alongside more experimentation with language and translation; and enduring concern with the touchstones of love, loss, memory, and acts of witnessing.
The poem below is extracted from “Walking songs for Africans abroad” from In the Heat of Shadows…
Born Travellers by Karen Press
We’re born travellers. We compose walking songs, songs of building the boss’s roads, songs of the long train journey to the mines, songs of our lovers abandoning us for city women, songs of living in hostels without our children, of standing at passport offices, of being in exile, of tracking a cow or a lion or a USAID management studies programme. We invented a piano the size of our hearts to play as we walk.
We’ve been travelling forever. There’s a map that shows how Africans spread across the world to populate it; the cartographers called it “Africans: the first colonisers”. Some of us have objected to being called that. We’re more comfortable with the modest role of loving our birthplace and wanting it back. But we keep on travelling, in the holds of ships and down mine shafts, with crates of goods to sell and dossiers of crimes to recount. We have so much left to give, so many blood diamonds and bleached bones, so many muted languages and ecstatic dances. Over and over again we re-populate the world with our evolving pain and curiosity, replenishing each present moment with the DNA of history.
Antjie Krog reading at Shakespeare and Company—the podcast: https://soundcloud.com/shakespeareandcompany/antjie-krog-21-10-2013