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ISSN 2304-8107

every generation

2013 | 02 print quarterly number two

ISSN 2304-8107 editor & publisher duduzile zamantungwa mabaso graphic design & layout Black Letter Media (Pty) Ltd All images by Black Letter Media, accept where indicated. Queries PO Box 94004 Yeoville, 2143 Johannesburg, South Africa Published by Black Letter Media (Pty) Ltd Tel: +27 11 966 8061 Fax: 086 606 1565 Poetry Potion is a trademark of Black Letter Media (Pty) Ltd Š Black Letter Media & www.poetrypotion. com. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievable system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, photocopying or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright owners, the poets and Black Letter Media (Pty) Ltd. All poets retain the rights to their own. Any copying or sharing of this work for financial gain is infringement of copyright.

editorial 6 poetry profile Mphutlane wa Bofelo 16 poetry seen Tjovitjo Bavino 46 Q&A

PRAAT Poetry Festival

writers’ block imagery imbongikazi ya kwa Chizama the new African featured poem Carla Chait elegy for a legacy poetry Simthembile Matyobeni Intimations of the Next Moment

50 54 14 22 8

BeLUMKO 26 We Are Them Ndaba Sibanda 28 From Scars To Stars 24 Of Condom and Sodom Sihle Ntuli 30 April Fools Day Khanyo O. Mjamba 32 Ablution Tariq Toffa 34 To serve Roché Kester 35 Lest we forget Thabang Waba Moabi 37 A new dawn Raymond Mupatapanja 38 Trail Of the Past Chad Brevis 39 Aloof empathy Nana Agyemang Ofosu 42 African Dream HotnyHaze 43 His face in I

Sipho Sepamla, Isabella Motadinyane, Siphiwe ka Ngwenya, Nosipho Kota, Lebo Mashile, Napo Masheane, Ingoapele Madingoane, Wordsworth, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Sarah Jones, Jessica Care Moore, Abena Koomson, Staceyann Chin, Beau Sia, Saul Williams, Vonani Bila, Lesego Rampolokeng, Nontsizi Mgqwetho, Jessica Mbangeni, Bassie Ikpi, Lefifi Tladi, Kabelo Mofokeng, Original Cuff Sister, Mandi Poefficient, Gabeba Baderoon, Amiri Baraka, Gil Scott-Heron, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Ingrid Jonker, Ike Muila, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Don Mattera, Amitabh Mitra, Makhosazana Xaba, BW Vilakazi, Gcina Mhlophe, Gladys Thomas, Wauchope, SEK Mqhayi, HIE Dhlomo, Malika Ndlovu, Roger Bonair-Agard, Myesha Jenkins, Mafika Gwala, Oswald Mtshali, Mak Manaka, Angifi Dladla, Makhosazana Xaba, Sylvia Plath, 7


Back in the day, the early 2000s, there’s something we used to say at poetry sessions.

“Poetry is not competition, poetry is a amission”

In fact, I think it was a line in a poem by someone… but I can’t remember who’s poem. Well, those days are long gone and the poets these days are brands. And brands are not bad, it’s just that poetry that’s only concerned with money tends to be void of any depth. And where there is no depth there’s only mediocrity. I think it’s difficult in a mediocre state of being to find one’s mission, to find true meaning and purpose in ones life. This edition’s title, Every Generation, is inspired by one of Fanon’s most mind provoking lines “Each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it.” When Fanon, opened his essay with that line, he was preoccupied with National Culture, with the political role that the creatives play in a ‘new’ nation. Fanon explores how the native intellectual has assimilated the culture of the colonial master and has to try to throw off the colonial culture in order to develop the nations culture. The more Fanon writes, the more I’m reminded of Audre Lorde’s “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”. Both writers reflect on what it means to bring about change. Now it is nothing new to hear people lament at how the youth has no direction. Even our poetry elders, like Lefifi Tladi, have said that young poets have no ideology. Whenever I start to moan about those younger than me, I remember those older than me who have complained about me. I realise that whether or not youth has no ideology, direction, a mission, one only ever realises the truth of fallacy of that retrospectively. I think our role, as we move through our different ages is to always bring the question to the fore. Not to judge but to challenge. Because whether the generation before believes it or not, this generation does know what it’s doing. And of course, every generation has it’s lost souls. And every


generation has it’s leaders who you may not recognise today but will definitely recognise tomorrow. So the challenge - “every generation The generation of 1976 discovered their own mission. And because they discovered their mission, they became the catalyst for change in South Africa. What is the mission of this generation? More importantly what is your mission? If you’ve found your mission, how do you exemplify? Will we fulfil or betray our missions?” Between these pages is evidence of how various poets have risen to the challenge. These poets come from different backgrounds, have different approaches to the set theme, however, what is clear that these poets are on a quest and will not be dismissed as lost youth. This edition also includes a conversation with poet, activist, social commentator, Mphutlane wa Bofelo, one brilliant mind who has discovered what his mission is and works hard to fulfil it. With this edition, as with a lot of work that I and my contemporaries are doing, we are saying our generation knows its mission, is discovering its mission and verily we are working to fulfil it. We’re not sitting idly by waiting to cease to exist. We are writers, artists, storytellers, publishers, creatives, doctors, entrepreneurs... We are many things both acceptable and unacceptable but this mission, is ours to define. Between these lines, I ask you to linger... ~za


featured poem

Carla Chait elegy for a legacy i. praise they came from fire. burning. burning massacre. flaming pogrom pyre. flaming fearful they came. burnt fear-full fear for. fleeing fled from flaming burning. breaking free.


to build a better life for. building better. building desire. life for. to stand together. sam, jane, ethel, pop and harry burnt but building. (together) here. breaking free. a better life. to south africa. build a better. here. turn of


the century.

ii. lament south africa later burning better. building tattered men. black man burning. white man’s burden. white man weighted. weighting unequal, in leftovers. tatters flaming, putrescent. pyre! pile up. piling up. black man’s back breaking, burning, burning. breaking. burden, bullseye. piling up


breaking bodies. bodies burning. the np swimming the sea. malan, strijdom verwoerd, the fifties, sixties‌ for fifty years the sea-salt sea. swimming the sea-salt sea and pruning.

iii. consolation i come from fire then. burning better. burning at both ends together. sea salt


and pyre. raining and flaming. piling up pictures, a pile together. swimming the pile, desire. sam, jane, ethel, pop, harry! – please see me building better. being better. breaking free. standing the pile back together. burdened but free. being free falling freely breaking maybe – but then standing together.


being better building better standing back together.


im bongi kazi ya kwa Chi za ma

Nontsizi Mqwetho, imbongikazi ya kwa Chizama, exploded onto the scene in 1920 when her poems were published in the Xhosalanguage newspaper Umteteli wa Bantu. The poems, written in isiXhosa, were “swaggering, urgent, confrontational woman’s poetry”. Her poems continued to appear in the newspaper regularly throughout the three years from 1924 to 1926. Two final poems including, Zemk’Inkomo Zetafa - Vula Ndingene!, appeared in December 1928 and January 1929, then there was silence. Although very little is known by this poet, the poetry she left immediately claims for her the status of one of the greatest literary artists ever to write in Xhosa. She is a strong anguished voice of an urban woman confronting male dominance, ineffective leadership, black apathy, white malice and indifference, economic exploitation and a history of nineteenthcentury territorial and cultural dispossession.*


Audre Lorde, Sipho Sepamla, Isabella Motadinyane, Siphiwe ka Ngwenya, Nosipho Kota, Lebo Mashile, Napo Masheane, Ingoapele Madingoane, Wordsworth, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Sarah Jones, Jessica Care Moore, Abena Koomson, Stacey-ann Chin, Beau Sia,SaulWilliams,VonaniBila,Lesego Rampolokeng, Jessica Mbangeni, Bassie Ikpi, Lefifi Tladi, Kabelo Mofokeng, Original Cuff Sister, Mandi Poefficient, Gabeba Baderoon, Amiri Baraka, Gil Scott-Heron, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Ingrid Jonker, Ike Muila, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Don Mattera, Amitabh Mitra, Makhosazana Xaba, BW Vilakazi, Gcina Mhlophe, Gladys Thomas, Wauchope, SEK Mqhayi, HIE Dhlomo, Malika Ndlovu, Roger Bonair-Agard, Myesha Jenkins, Mafika Gwala, Oswald Mtshali, Mak Manaka, Roger Egard Bonair,

Nontsizi Mgqwetho,


poetry profile

Mphutlane wa Bofelo

Mphutlane wa Bofelo is thankfully not one of those poets for whom poetry is a trend, a phase or a branding opportunity. Truly dedicated to the craft, Bofelo has been writing poetry for years. Many respect him. A Black Conscious Sufi, father, husband and educator, Mphutlane is prolific and a true cultural activist. His poetry draws from many influences and is not easily boxed into one category. As a figure, he could easily be taken for a lightweight because he always wears a warm expression, he doesn’t care for the pretentious garb


that many “conscious”, “deep”, “hip” poets may like. If you take him lightly, you do so at your own risk. I’ve seen Bofelo slam with the best of them at the 2009 Poetry Africa slam poetry competition and beat out the obvious winners. Bofelo’s poetry is gentle. Gentle and authentic. Though not strictly personal, it can only be read personally, if you understand what I mean. OK… “Towards you I Moved out of myself Out of my way To stretch myself To reach out to you…” (Towards You, posted on his facebook account, 12 June) See what I mean. Bofelo “In many ways 16 June is not uncaring with his words. This makes it feel ‘76 reinvigorated the creative like he cares for me too, impulse of the literary and arts as a reader. In fact, that’s practitioners in their quest because he does. He cares for idiomatic and innovative for those who read his expression of social reality work. Bofelo manages to that went beyond euroachieve what many poets centric conventions.” (June 6 fail at being – be generous 2010, in spirit and have that magnanimity show in his work. Bofelo’s poetry shows not only his intellectual side but his sensitive and spiritual and loving side. Bofelo also writes essays where he comments on politics, spirituality, philosophy and activism. He has published collections such as The Heart’s Interpreter, Bluesology and Bofelosophy, The Journey Within, and the Way of Love. Having had a few chances to see Bofelo recite and perform his poetry and having read his work, it madee sense to talk to him about what inspires him and where he comes from. This is is Bofelosophy Poetry Potion: How and when did you start writing poetry?


Mphutlane wa Bofelo: I really will be dishonest if I were to put a date to when I started writing poetry. I was born and raised on a farm. When I opened my mouth, eyes and ears; poetry, song, dance, drama and the visual arts were all around me and they were one integrated whole rather than compartments. I have vivid recollections of me helping my mother to decorate the walls of our four-roomed house with traditional Sesotho murals, helping her to assemble beads and grass while making traditional Sesotho mats and brooms, falling into hymns, songs and stories at the same time. Many times, I would find my body moving and my heart responding as my father chanted the muso-poetry of the Basotho. This poetry-dance-song-drama-art thing was there in all the rituals and ceremonies such as ho kuruwetsa (the ceremony of showing a newly-born the moon), ho beha ngwana puleng (introducing the child to water and its mysteries by leaving it alone in a rain for some minutes), ho leta thojane (a night vigil ceremony on the eve of the return of females from initiation school). My father was a supreme dancer at the thojane ceremonies; I just marvelled the first time I saw him. Both my mother and my grandmother were great storytellers and raconteurs of repute. They coined phrases and words that became part of the catch-phrases of the village speak and this seems to have naturally rubbed off on me and my sister, Mantjahadi, and my brother, Mabula Fusi Elias Bofelo. While these two had the extrovert qualities of my mother, me and the other two sisters, Maputswe known as Makutu and Mankone, had the quieter introvert attributes of my father. I guess that’s why I mostly put my thoughts on paper or shared my stories and jokes only within a small circle of friends. In my primary school days I did not preserve the stuff that I wrote, I only stored my works in my head. Then I was introduced to performance poetry through the Black Consciousness Movement in the early 80’s.


In 1989, I co-founded Makana Poets with Sello Hlasa, Michael Masuku and Mojalefa Mokgampane. It grew into Makana Arts Commune in the 90’s with the involvement of Makoena Mohlabane, Bereng Ramoliki, Spirit Molefi and others. PP: Which poets have inspired you and what about their work resonated with you? Bofelo: In South Africa it was the works of poets who at that time mainly articulated the message of Black Consciousness - Mafika Gwala, James Mathews, Mongane Wally Serote, Sipho Sepamla, Ingoapele Madingoane and Don Mattera. They inspired me a lot. Later, I developed a relationship with the Botsotso Jesters (Allan Horwitz, the late Isabelle Motadinyane, Anna Varney, Siphiwe ka Ngwenya and Ike Muila) through whose publishing collective, Botsotso Publishing, I had my poetry published for the first time. My work appeared in the anthology called 5, with Gillian Schutte, Lionel Murcott, Kobus Moolman and Clinton du Plessis their work also resonated with me in different ways. Kobus Moolman in particular stands out for me. PP: Your writing has a strong political edge to it, what came first political awareness or the love of


Bofelo: The poetry and the political awareness came to me simultaneously. The reality of being black in the world and the reality of working class life assaulted me from the minute


I opened my eyes, and poetry was all around me at the same time.

 PP: Can you talk a bit about the need to collaborate and work with others? As you say, in ‘89 you co-founded Makana Poets and now you are collaborating with Richard Ellis on No Fears Expressed. Why do you collaborate and how does collaboration affect your work? Bofelo: Collaboration by its virtue is embedded in the spirit of cooperation and is essentially antithetical to the individualistic value of competition. It challenges you to subject your views and creative imagination to the judgment and opinion of others and to open yourself to the views and creative imagination of others. Personally, collaboration presents to me the opportunity to suppress the egoistic self, think outside the box and open myself to other perspectives and other ways of doing things. I particularly like collaborations across the genres, because ultimately the arts are one. PP: I’ve seen you slam against the likes of Ewok and score high. What is your opinion of the various expressions of poetry? Do you prefer the page to the stage? What drives you to perform/recite your work? Bofelo: My view is that the page and the stage are platforms and avenues for artistic expression and social dialogue, and that there is no platform that is superior to the other. You find pieces of poetry or prose that work better on page, some that are better expressed orally and others that work equally well on both the stage and the page. PP: Often, young poets will ask about making a living out of poetry. For you, has making money ever configured into your decisions? How do you balance your creative instincts with making a living and putting food on the table? Bofelo: There is a difference between demanding payment for the work you do as an artist and subjecting the thematic and stylistic concerns of your work of art to the dictates of the market or the commands of the political establishment. It is the latter that I see as commercialisation. The former is simply saying that if you want a copy of a book or CD or a piece of


art like a painting or pottery, you must pay for it. If you want a music performance or a poetry recital at your event, you must pay for it and be willing to pay the kind of money that does justice to the quality or value of that work of art and the time and resources that the artist spent making it. The latter is just plain commercialisation, subjecting the quality of your work to the demands of the market. I don’t write for the market or to fit into particular politics. I don’t write under a commission or for a commission. I don’t merely write the world as it is or ought to be but I write the world, as it exists in my dreams and nightmares, aspirations and fantasies. PP: Talk to me about your family life and the creative life, how do you balance it all? You and your wife, Tshegofatso, work together in many projects, is she also creative? Bofelo: Tshegofatso is the creative-entrepreneurial mind and spirit behind Ditiro Media and Events. She and Ditiro takes care of the administrative side of the Bofelosophy project. I am too anti-systemic and disorderly for that side of things. My wife brings that balance in my life. For me the important thing is to live life to the fullest and to focus on the interconnections between personal and social spaces rather than to be bogged down by boundaries. I find my family life and personal experiences a great source of material and inspiration for my cultural work and social activism, and my experiences as a cultural worker and social activist very helpful to me as a father, husband and lover. Openness and straightforward, sincere communication is key in dealing with issues and challenges in both the family and public sphere. PP: In conclusion, in your opinion, does this generation know what its mission is? If yes, do you think we will honour or betray it? Bofelo: There is a multiplicity of social and personal identities and a plurality of voices and perspectives within each generation. And there are also continuities from generation to generation, as issues and challenges and perspectives also spill from one generation to the other. For me, the greatest mission and challenge is to live life with integrity and with a sense of justice. I think this is for all generations and for all individuals and collective or communities of peoples.


the new Afri can

Herbert Isaac Ernest Dhlomo (1903 - 1956) is one of Afrika’s greatest intellectuals. A poet, essayist, journalist, librarian, short story writer and playwright, Dhlomo received his education at what is now known as Adams college in KwaZulu. Some of his most notable work includes his biographical plays about Nongqawuse, Ntsikana, Shaka, Moshoeshoe amongst others. He also tackled pertinent issues in works like The Pass: Arrest and Discharged and The Workers and Malaria. His play on Nongqawuse was the first drama published in English by a black South African. One of his best known work is his elegiac poem The Valley of Thousand Hills written in 1941. Dhlomo is regarded as one of the New Africans - those who had been missionary educated and had embraced modernity. According to Dhlomo, “the new African knows where he belongs and what belongs to him; where he is going and how; what he wants and the methods to obtain it...”*


Myesha Jenkins, Mafika Gwala, Oswald Mtshali, Mak Manaka, Angifi Dladla, Makhosazana Xaba, Sylvia Plath, Audre Lorde, Sipho Sepamla, Isabella Motadinyane, Siphiwe ka Ngwenya, Nosipho Kota, Lebo Mashile, Napo Masheane, Ingoapele Madingoane, Wordsworth, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Sarah Jones, Jessica Care Moore, Abena Koomson, Staceyann Chin, Beau Sia, Saul Williams, Vonani Bila, Lesego Rampolokeng, Nontsizi Mgqwetho, Jessica Mbangeni, Bassie Ikpi, Lefifi Tladi, Kabelo Mofokeng, Original Cuff Sister, Mandi Poefficient, Gabeba Baderoon, Amiri Baraka, Gil Scott-Heron, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Ingrid Jonker, Ike Muila, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Don Mattera, Amitabh Mitra, Makhosazana Xaba, BW Vilakazi, Gcina Mhlophe, Gladys Thomas, Wauchope, SEK Mqhayi, , Malika Ndlovu, Roger Bonair-Agard, Myesha Jenkins, Mafika Gwala, Oswald Mtshali, Mak Manaka, Amir Sulaiman

HIE Dhlomo 25


Simthembile Matyobeni Intimations of the Next Moment To Wakhe Mzimba and Yonela Plaatjie We lose a thousand mouths at desert moments, When we ought to be riding magnifying glasses Into the soul of grimaced future marigolds. The lead fiesta of Marikana is the mind’s cesspit, Where boiling Mzantsi sewage beats against rainbow walls; Kaleidoscopic visions of transformation are not cast in stone. A friend was dragged, handcuffed, by a string of words Through an angry street to his death; While we spent vacations in his garden dreams Reaping infinite riches of the mind, body and soul. An army of jabs wages a mental war of indifference, Seeing the rise of the great oxygenated morons of oxymoron: Corrective Rape. I know a sister who loves a sister, And a brother who loves a brother. We called on Maya Angelou to make Anene Booysen rise, And we coaxed Oscar Wilde into the world of Lunga Voko.


At Rhodes University we started our loudest Silent Protest. Yet the wheels of the future are always deflated By a dialectic of psychosis. We are haunted by spectres of scarred brains And tormented hearts of stone, Yet the stage on which we stand requires that We breathe life into the amorphous body of the future. There are wandering and disconcerted souls in our midst, Let us invite them to the banquets of the agents of the future, And tell them that transformation is a seamed continuum.


BeLUMKO We Are Them we are rebels with a flawed cause. digital martyrs with burnt tyre stealth strings connecting us to our memories like the invisible umbilical cords that connect our hopes to a freedom that might come tomorrow. we are the rebels with floored fores. drunk from the spoils of freedom, we’re the illegitimate offspring to a national party. we are genetically hungover. we are the censored past and vulgar outbursts that seep through broken windows and echo amidst the silence of vacant corridors. we are the exiled desires of young widows. the debt generation, paying for the credit our parents spent trying to ensure that the surviving few got a better future. no one has change to spare for the vagrant beggar behind the unkempt doors at the back of our cerebral bucket systems. revolution/evolution kaffir, boy, darkie, black, bee, experience required struggle, crime, hustle, entrepreneur socialism, log on 20h00, my generation


no airtime, uncapped bandwidth, no bridge beyond boredom the revolution: unplugged “dubul’ ibhulu” recite the sonnet to our struggle who pressed pause? play, let us continue our soliloquy with death, dance with the devils we know and court angels with prayers when these eyes see what we don’t want to feel. 9mm diameter, quick crucifix the lord giveth what man takes away my generation quotes Bantu Biko asks the soil is DA the way to go when coping means leaving the ANC behind my generation, does mama Ramphele pillow talk with a ghost or are her tears just for votes. remote thoughts, 2D homes, our memories have drifted from Marikana. we look to 1976 for inspiration and forget 2012 because it’s a constant reminder that we’re living through hell. each generation is enslaved by the ambitions and convictions of its precedent.


Ndaba Sibanda From Scars To Stars There has to be development You owe it to posterity To strive for your betterment There has to be prosperity Didn’t the parents bear the brunt Of cultural and social and economic Scars of history in a sublime fashion? There has to be development You owe it to posterity To strive for your betterment There has to be prosperity


Of Condom and Sodom Be the catalyst for positive change Not the beggar for cents and change Free yourself from violence and drugs March to financial freedom from the rags The freedom train is running really fast On the rails informed by a heroic past Youth of today don’t be a political condom Seek no populist refuge in corruption’s Sodom Battles social and economic are for every generation Fight against demons of drugs, rags and corruption


Sihle Ntuli April Fools Day “Heavy words diet by laughter, The best medicine. Madness the common language, Sanity locked in asylums” - Stranger Hysteric screams are the new breathing My padded walls are thick I painted them in selfishness, They are sugar coated with paint that changes colour. If I lick the walls I’m seductive If I gyrate against them then I’m erotic Mannequins mechanic selling lifestyles to my eye’s that will pay attention. The television is the new window for my evolved window shopping. Hiss of whispering around, The wind strokes the sense’s almost matching heart temperature As my ice hangs on my neck The sun comes up A nightmare after nighttime? To call it a bad dream makes light of this situation My soul’s windows How dare the world hint to not tint these shades suit me Sunshine is so blinding


Down cums the ice In white substance The climax This joke’s on me.


Khanyo O. Mjamba Ablution Spirits are rising with steam. Mere mortality, rippling in armitage shanks and imported steel, tells many stories of soap and skin. Something drowned here. There was no struggle here where izandla zigezana* with meticulous grace and the warmth of the water wrinkles the bubbling palms and 30 years of face. There was no resistance here where these delicate knuckles & virgin fists anchor the man to stare himself down through the mirror’s mist, feeling everything but the water’s pain. Something is displaced here like water rising in a steamy tub where the fleshiest wrists are slit among all this mortality rippling under Italian ceramic tiles. The plumber attached a good vein, as he’ll admit. Bloodline whirls & splutters tainted and complete, through the home’s vessels that nourish the backyard family tree. There, the pain of every generation flowers and bears fruit for my descendants to pick and eat.


*izandla ziyagezana: a Nguni proverb that means we


Tariq Toffa To serve Many days lived have passed In divine store how many still remain? To find, fill, and fuel Shelter, stomach, entertain? O soul whom God breathed into, from Him, spirit Do not rats and pet mice do the same? Be of some service! Slave-caliph* of the Most High Where even a morsel of food to the orphan Reaches the throne of the King of earth and sky

(*The term ‘caliph’ refers to the broad responsibilities of humans to be stewards or trustees of the earth.)


RochĂŠ Kester Lest we forget Lest we forget this land is soiled by blood scarlet hugged and pain bound echoing memories of lives gone in throbbing chests of women who will never be grandmothers. Lest we forget Tear gas, no longer visible olfactory organs pick up no scent of blinded comrades penetrated by rubber bullets running by bodies who have struggled and are now spent. Lest we forget mass funerals, communities in turmoil hearts pain stricken oblivious to recovery after mother , father sister and brother are buried for issued passes as lesser beings. Lest we forget songs of freedom, marches to Union buildings, boycotts of inferior schooling, imprisonment for twenty seven years, noble rebellion of minority rules. Lest we forget the belief we are similar


mirror images reflecting Gods, souls of furnace ,connected in likenessno dilution will incur perpetuating rivers of the hurt that run rapidly repetitively, cognitively and inwardly. Lest we forget we will regret current times where censorship of truth is contracted by law without our permission, remaining reminiscent of our blood soiled land scarlet hugged bound by pain, lest we forget.


Thabang Waba Moabi A new dawn Their hearts made of stones they cast them as all they have Fists clenched high upon the sky; they gathered strength into power They protested with fire Their wrath eager to burn time into change In the midst a rifle claimed a life Blood as ink wrote stories of their generation Wounds healed of death Where they became deceased became a fertile soil to germinate seeds of freedom Their souls like smoke of their fire ascended to the sky where they will forever be free What do we become of their sacrifice? Our path paved fire, We gather what is written into a sole purpose being to find wisdom in youth We build from a foundation they laid To embalm their bodies we become stars of their dark period Above their tombs we glitter and illuminate the future


Raymond Mupatapanja Trail Of the Past The trails of the past has led thus far, journeys from far beyond has brought rest, but shall we sit idly down and say we finally arrived. I am enjoying the flamboyance and the comfort but is it all I can do, the price was paid. I am the young seed, the hope for the future generations I am sprouting, to live a mark for the future I am wiping the tears of the past, Creating new memories I am the Generation.


Chad Brevis Aloof empathy Have you ever had that feeling Where things just seem so ...ordinary. BOOM! “Go outside and play.” As a child I remember Playing in the streets. We would hear of incidents That peeks our interests That day. “Take some of your friends, go and see” What retrospect now deems, to me at least, normality. I run down the road To see what all the whispers are about. Apparently there was a girl who had been in love with a guy. Her love was not returned. Her solution was to jump off of a bridge that spans The busiest highways of my childhood. She was very successful. Seeing a truck coming on, She jumped off the bridge and


was hit senseless... not that the dead has any sense in the first place. “Run down to the bridge� and play with a piece of her skull. My friends and I stood there kicking about bits of bone. If you wanted to, you could see some of her fatty brain matter still clinging for dear life to the side of the bridge. That pink, grey and scarlet matter, like fresh fish guts on the pier of Cork Bay. Yes, I kicked about bits of her skull. so... Forgive me when I walk down these corridors with my invisible PhD looming over my head; my only source of power. Forgive me when My eyes look upon you And you see nothing gleaming From an abyss of nothingness. Forgive me if you think your life disinterests me


and your “hellos” are mere trivial hogwash that I cannot stand. If it does not affect me To the point that it vexes me From my desensitised reality, then I’m afraid it isn’t worth my time. You see, I need to feel... Because I’m associated into unfeeling. If it cannot shock me into sensation, if it does not hurt, if it does not drain, if it does not damn near kill me... Then its not worthwhile. Please forgive me. I know nothing else. This unfeeling sensation, Is the marked attributes of My unfeeling generation.


Nana Agyemang Ofosu African Dream Let not the rising sun die young in this dark stage of the crawling land share in the dream and live as the warrior’s who are now martyrs of freedom who fought for the African Dream To bind our waist with one belt To scatter the foreigners and lift us up To where we belong, The African Heritage


HotnyHaze His face in I Sometimes I stare at the wall like its a board of scrabble, I try to find your face in it! Days feel like years and I fear to know what years feel like, That would be the torturing of ones soul, A soul that loved and once believed love was just an illusion But here I sit trying to conceive illusions of you with walls of all shapes and sizes, Love notes and Buddha quotes . I snuggle in your hoodie and pretend its your arms around me But the mirror always covers you up And leaves me to see me as just a mere me in your jacket, Darnit!!! Oh how I wish this image of you inside me would appear right beside me.


the best of Poetry Potion Poetry Potion was founded so that we could bring great poetry to all kinds of readers. We recognise that times are changing and while some technology is growing fast and more people are accessing new technology, some things aren’t moving as fast. The costs for accessing laptops and the internet and buying books are still a bit of a challenge. So to make sure that more people can find our poems we have joined two interesting programmes. 1. Our poetry is now available on a new Mxit reader app called Bookly. Now Mxit users can read free ebooks and buy ebooks using the Mxit currency, Moolah. So all the poetry that you have been able to read online and in print will now be available on your cellphone, on Mxit... if you are a Mxit user. All you have to do is add Bookly as a contact and then to search for Poetry Potion. 2. Poetry Potion is also joining the awesome, Worldreader project. Our poetry will be available on this Africa-wide project that aims to make literature available to more and more young people who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to find poetry and novels and fiction. Our books will be available through their mobile app. So on their cellphones, young readers will be able to search for books from their own countries and worldwide. Worldreader also runs a programme that makes ebooks available to schools and organisations through the kindle. We are very proud to be able to contribute to these two programme. Not only will our poets reach more eager poetry lovers throughout the continent but young poetry lovers will know when they see names they recognise from their own countries, that they too can become published poets.


poetry seen

Tjovitjo Bavino a thought in process... by zamantungwa “Icons are essentially products of our times, and of their times, their construction is informed by their specific reaction to social and political circumstances. Such reactions though generated from a subjective place, are never private� ~Xoli Norman 48

Lesego Rampolokeng, affectionately known as Papa Ramps, or Bavino, is one of our greatest minds and voices. Described by some as a dissenter, a rabble-rouser, disruptive, an inspiration, abstruse, profane, hard core, amazing, storyteller, immortal… He’s a wonder to watch as he recites his poetry, never afraid to speak the truth while employing the most wicked arrangement of words possible. What you don’t usually hear about Rampolokeng, is how big-hearted he actually is and how there’s something glorious about the man, when you peel back the layers. Now anyone who was at the Afrikan Freedom Station that week in May preceding Afrika Day, is sure to tell you that. And unlike some critics will have you believe, this poet is not ready to be put out to pasture. And the work of this poet belongs in the canon of world class literature. In May, in the week leading up to Afrika Day, Afrikan Freedom Station presented TjoViTjo Bavino – focussing on the poet, Lesego Rampolokeng, and his poetry. Afrikan Freedom Station (eThula Ndivile section) is one of those grand spaces, slightly ahead of its time and nostalgic at the same. This Afrocentric multimedia gallery hosts fine art exhibitions as well as live performances. So, this was the perfect spot for this kind of event.

“Lesego is not a very simple man, he’s a very difficult man. And part of that difficulty, I forgive him [… because] to exist as an artist you have to pay for your sins through your creativity. And Lesego pays for his sins...” ~Xoli Norman The programme included a lecture by Xoli Norman, a master class with Rampolokeng and performances by poets and artists influenced by Rampolokeng. It ended with a multimedia performance on Afrika Day with Rampolokeng, S’bu the General, Lefifi Tladi and Kemang wa Lehulere. Between Xoli Norman’s talk and Rampolokeng’s master class, one begins to understand the various experiences that influence and inspire the poet. The chance to hear both people, allowed us to catch a glimpse into the mind behind the poems. Like when Norman played his horn, exploring sonically what he was to discuss. He said, of the unfinished piece“it destroys the tonic point… every time it establishes the key it destroys it.” What he said was an attempt to capture


the spirit of what (or who) he was going to speak about and how the poetry (and the poet) go against the current. Norman’s talk set the tone for the rest of the week nicely. It wasn’t about explaining the poetry but rather providing context and a jump off point for us to begin to find our own meaning in the work.

“Poetry is the distillation of the universe…” ~Lesego Rampolokeng The two nights of performances were in part a demonstration of what had been spoken about the two previous nights and also a celebration of what was, what is and what will be in this poetic landscape. The Bavino Sessions featured poets and emcees who are inspired by Rampolokeng. The range of voices, experience, talent, style on that stage spanned various experiences and ages. The combination made for great energy - the Station came alive. Ike Muila, Siphiwe ka Ngwenya, Original Cuff Sista, Motho Fela, Quaz, Makhafula Vilakazi, Basemental Platform, KMS, Dimakatso Rapulane, Afurakan, Matete Motsoaledi, Icebound, The Pharaoh Express, Mak Manaka. Between the words and music, minds and spirits were loosed. The collision of visual, auditory and aural expressions all proved to be more than just a celebration of one poet. This wasn’t an exercise in stroking an ego but a communion of various aspects of our creative selves. Many of us left with lists of words and names to google – not merely because we didn’t know or understand but because Rampolokeng and everyone who spoke and performed sparked a hunger in us for more. We wanted more yet we were sated. The highlight of the week and perhaps the best way ever to spend Afrika Day, was when Rampolokeng performed his work accompanied by Sbu the General on the decks. But then as if the beats and the word were not enough, Lefifi Tladi, legendary poet and painter, joined the performance and started to paint. Mind-numbing! As if that wasn’t epic enough, mid performance, artist Kemang wa Lehulere sat down with a dictionary and a grater and started to shred the words.


Sensory overload! This wasn’t one of those watch, get entertained, clap hands and go home typa events. This was a gateway to an even bigger world of poetry (all literature), music and art. For having been part of this week, one left feeling blessed – not in that ‘wow I was there kind of way” but we all left with our worlds having exploded, become much larger and richer. This is part of what makes the Afrikan Freedom Station such an important place in our cultural landscape. It is still difficult to put in words what was experienced at Afrikan Freedom Station that week. The best words are sublime, sensory overload, ecstasy, mind-boggling, intriguing, full of love, challenging, inspiriting, fulfilling… really, heads were set on fire. sibongile.


PRAAT Poetry Festival

Ntsika Tyatya, poet and organiser from Port Elizabeth talks to us about the new poetry festival, Praat.

Poetry Potion: Tell us about Praat Poetry Festival. Why was this kind of festival established and what do you hope to achieve? Ntsika Tyatya: We realised that in Nelson Mandela Bay [the municipal district of Port Elizabeth] there was no celebration of poetry, yet poetry had [always] been part of many major events. Then the Opera House started to host YIYO poetry sessions on Wednesdays making it possible to see that there were lots of new poets in PE. Every week there were new poets sharing their work. That’s why we decided to start this poetry festival. We hope that [Praat] can grow into a reputable festival that is internationally recognized like other poetry festivals from across the world. That it can create a platform for poets to convene at and bring [to PE] the best national and local poets. So we hope to open doors for local poets to access the rest of the world. PP: What does PRAAT mean or stand for and why did you choose that name for the festival? NT: In simple terms, PRAAT is an Afrikaans word that means to speak, talk, converse and carry a message through from one medium to the next. We chose it [because of] the


“connection� between the written form in poetry and the spoken word and wanting to carrying through the theme of creating words and highlighting the use of speech in poetry. PP: Why does PE need a poetry festival and who is this festival aimed at? NT: We had realized that we had too much local talent and it needed its own platform. Also it was about time that poetry come on to the forefront and not serve as background [entertainment] in any festival. The festival is aimed at anyone who loves poetry and appreciates it as an art form. [We have invited] the young and old. But the primary target market is students - they have the most to gain in terms of the knowledge that is to be shared at such a festival. PP: What challenges did you face in planning this festival poetry? NT: There were many events happening at the same time, also many students were off on holiday. All in all, when there is anything in it’s foundation phase, it needs to crawl first before it walks. PP: What are the aims of the festival in the next few years? NT: We hope to host more national poets and also use Praat to channel local poets towards other festivals. We hope to facilitate an international tour, or perhaps an exchange for local poets to host poets from abroad who can share their knowledge. We want to grow and become a reputable poetry festival and host poets local or nationally. We hope they we will see it as a door to other opportunities such as publishing, touring and making a living in poetry.


elebrating C Years of Poetry



In 2012, celebrated five years of being online with our first print edition. This edition features poems celebrating five years of mixing it up as well as interviews with Napo Masheane, Andrew Manyika and Proverb.


Print Quarterly Number One

This is the first print edition of Poetry Potion. It features some great poetry as well as a profile of poet, Vangi Gantsho and Q&As with up and coming poets Sihle Ntuli and Mapule Mohulatsi.

writers’ block


imagery (noun): visually descriptive or figurative language, esp. in a literary work. Imagery is using vivid and descriptive language in order to elevate the work. When used properly, it can transport the reader or listener into the poem and make the poem come alive. Imagery can make the experience become immediate. For example: “Come outside and smell the desolate red dusk of blazing eternity. The endless humidity of clammy liquid air filling the vessel known only as sky.”


Cape of No-Hope by Chad Brevis (On Being Human, Poetry Potion no. 1) Because poetry isn’t just an nice arrangement of words, the various tools we have at our disposal help us to create beauty or communicate anger, violence, ugliness, elation... a vast array of emotions. Imagery is like the paint and the canvas; it let’s you paint a picture for the reader or listener to grab on to and find meaning. Consider this: “Leaves got up in a coil and hissed, Blindly struck at my knee and missed.” Bereft by Robert Frost Imagery isn’t just visual. It relates to your five senses: your sense of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. Imagery used with the other figures of speech – alliteration, rhyme, metaphor etc – arouses your senses, transport you into the poem and the work comes alive. This is when poetry is at its most potent. Depending on the poet’s intention, you could be unwrapped, undone, angered, aroused, provoked. Moved. When reading a poem think about the tastes, smells, visuals, textures, sounds that the poet is trying to invoke. Think about what meaning they could bring to the reader or listener. When writing a poem think about what impression you’d like to leave the reader or listener with and then find the words that help you to move your reader or listener closer to where you were, emotionally, when you wrote that poem.



Simthembile Matyobeni is from Marambeni Village in Qumbu and is currently studying at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. BeLUMKO is a Be_Liver. Ndaba Sibanda is a Zimbabwean-born writer from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city. He is one of the most prolific poets to emerge from that Southern African country. A former National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) nominee, Ndaba’s poems, essays and short stories have been published in Africa, the UK and the US. His latest anthology, The Dead Must Be Sobbing was published in March 2013. Sihle Ntuli is a 22 year old originally from Durban now residing in Langebaan. He’s a Rhodes graduate whose works can be seen on Itch, Jiggered, Poetry Potion, Sang Bleu amongst others. Khanyo Mjamba is a communications student & freelance writer that dabbles in almost all forms of writing. He considers himself a prodigal son of poetry. Tariq Toffa is an architect and writer. Writer and poet, Roché Kester, hails from Cape Town. Her poetry has been published in the UWC Creates anthology, titled “This is my land” (2012). Her prose has also been featured in the Powa women’s writing anthology titled “Sisterhood” (2012). She has performed at various events and locations in Cape Town, namely at the Open Book festival (2012) for the event The Distance Between Page and Stage. She believes in the transformative power of art and attains to achieve social transformation through her writing.


Thabang waba Moabi loves the art the writing. Raymond Mupatapanja, aka Raymupats, is a journalist, poet, actor and a musician born in Zimbabwe from a mother of Portuguese descent and a Zambian father. He lives in South Africa where works with different youth organisations mentoring young adults in leadership and writing. Chad Brevis is a Masters student of English Literature at The University of the Western Cape with training in Ethical Theory and Linguistics. He’s currently working on a dissertation on taboo topics in literature. A particular focus is spent on the banning of literature and arts. During his undergraduate and Honours years, he worked as a tutor for the Department of Religion and Theology. He currently tutors in the Department of English. He also works as a staff writer for the Cape Town based cultural hip hop magazine IAM Magazine. Nana Agyemang Ofosu is a Civil Engineer and he loves poetry. He is a founding partner of Poetry Foundation Ghana. HotnyHaze was born in 1993 in the township Tembisa; Grew up in Polokwane, Started writing in 2004. She is a guitarist, plays the harmonica and recorder and loves photography. SHe released a publication, CD and DVD with Shindig Awe from Limpopo titled HAVE WE PUT OUT THE FIRE. Carla Chait previously qualified as a dietician, but has returned to university to study literature.


Submissions Guidelines • Poetry Potion is an online poetry journal with poetry, reviews and interviews published daily or weekly online as well as a quarterly print edition. • All print editions are themed, a call to submit is published quarterly online. • - the website - has an open-ended call for submissions for the A Poem A Day challenge as well as other poems that don’t fit into the print edition theme. • We do not pay for poems published because Poetry Potion is a non-profit publication. • We do not publish individual collections of poetry, please refer to our website for poetry publishers if you have a manuscript and want to be published. • All copyright remains with the poet. • Poetry is accepted in any language. • If you submit in any language other than English then please provide an English translation of the poem or submit a paragraph that explains what the poem is about. • Since the persons assessing the poem for publication may not understand the language the poem is submitted in, then reserves the right not to consider work that comes without a translation or an explanation paragraph. • does not edit poetry - so make sure that you submit your work in its final publishable draft. DO NOT SUBMIT FIRST DRAFTS. • accepts, poet profiles, essays, think/opinion pieces and social commentary on various subjects. • reserves the right to edit articles for length, clarity and style. • Submit your BEST work.


Stockists • • • • The Book Lounge in Cape Town Adams in Durban Menzi Maseko in Durban - menzi.maseko@, 083 246 1604 • Roots Restaurant and Gallery in Western Jabavu, Soweto • Street Hawkers Concept Store in Dube, Soweto • The Love House in Sunnyside, Pretoria

*Research Sources • www. • • www.witness. id%5D=75539 •

Poetry potion 2013 02 Every Generation  

Every Generation is the theme of the second print quarterly of Poetry Potion. Inspired by Frantz Fanon's "Each generation, must out of relat...

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