Posts Tagged ‘writing’

The Youth Affair put forward a play during the Litfest that just oozed raw talent and passion. It is an initiative by the youth, for the youth, to keep them from rabble rousing on the streets.  The play entitled, Maid in Franschhoek, tells the tale of two girls that work together in a guest house.  Every day they battle poverty and substance abuse as they search for meaning and direction in their lives.  It’s a flurry of Afrikaans and English with some great poetry by Koos Kombuis, Adam Small and Peter Snyders tossed in for good measure.   It was a great way to spend our lunch hour at the fest.

We then dashed to the cosy Elephant and Barrel to dry our clothes. Then it was over to the straight shooting Sindiwe Magona (Beauty’s Gift), Terry Morris (Picador Africa) and the beautiful Petina Gappah (an Elegy for Easterly) to take to the mike. 

Petina Gappah

Petina Gappah

 They spoke about the importance of the literary journal in the electronic age.  The talk was chaired by Phakama Mbonambi; publishing editor of Wordsetc.  Both Magona and Gappah spoke at length on the importance of the literary journal and also about the importance of cultivating a love for books and reading in South Africa.   

A literary journal is often regarded as a labour of love, however it is an essential stepping stone for new and established writers, and good journal reflects the literary pulse of a country or a generation.  The latest Wordsetc. is packed with fascinating short stories, interviews, reviews and profiles.  At R170 for 4 issues its an absolute steal.  “Come on, people!” cries Bill Cosby.

Sindiwe Magona

Sindiwe Magona

Here are some of the journals and websites that were mentioned and that are worth checking out:

 Wordsetc – “a literary journal that seeks both to promote new South African writing and to pay homage to the literary masters of the past,” is how they describe themselves.  It’s a beauty; filled with fascinating reading. If you’re somewhat interested in life, the psychology of us, the greater meaning of the global community, a good story told well, and the way that words just fall together in a sentence that’s forever etched in your mind like a first love – sign up.  The welcome submissions.

www.smokelong.com – an online literary magazine dedicated to flash fiction (1000 words long) The term “smoke-long” comes from the Chinese, who noted that reading a piece of flash takes about the same length of time as smoking a cigarette.  All the work they publish is just that—about a smoke longWicked illustrations and the written word?…check it out for yourself.  Submissions welcome but read the guidelines!

Per Contra -The international journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas.  Dodgy, archaic looking website, but they do host a lot of brilliant writing, and they recommend a list of note worthy blogs. Submissions reopen October 2009.

Guernica – a magazine of art and ideas that author Howard Zinn calls “an extraordinary bouquet of stories, poems, social commentary, and art.”   This site is HOT.  You can get lost for days in the writings from across the world. And they actually take submissions.

 And two not mentioned but  certainly some of my favourites…

www.african-writing.com – if you don’t know about this site…  Nuff said.  Take a week from work, visit it, get lost… enjoy … and submit your own.

www.somethingwicked.co.za  It is South Africa’s only magazine featuring horror, sci-fi and all things supernatural; available online or in tactile form.  Most of the content is provided by local artists and writers.  The artwork is truly sublime, and some of our top writers have been featured.  Off the wall, spine chilling and delightfully decadent.  And yes submissions welcome – but take a number.

Of course there’s more, but this will have to do for now.

Back to the Litfest….

Time for an early dinner at the Elephant and Barrel before making our way to the see legendary playwright, Mike van Graan’s,  Bafana Republic III.  I love the way he has used the audience to choose his actor – a bit like idols.  Very progressive and typical of a man who just drives forward all the time.   

Mike van Graan

Mike van Graan

 The one man performance was powerful and true to Van Graan’s biting satire.  It needs a bit of a polish here and there but I am sure it will be a showstopper, again, at the Grahamstown Festival this year.

Then back to Col’Cacchio for veggie pasta and a fine bottle of Merlot; then to bed for a good night’s rest.  After Friday night’s shenanigans – the good lord knows we deserve it.

The rain is gushing down as we drive along the highway from Cape Town to Franschhoek in Teliwe’s baby blue jalopy. Water is leaking in from the bottom and we have to keep the windows open to keep the car from steaming up. 

She laughs.  We screech into the pastoral village at around 5; unload cameras, laptops, scarves and coats – sprint to get out of the rain.   We sit under the  tin roof listening to the rain filling up the swimming pool.  Teliwe says it is time. Colcacchio’s in Franschhoek.  It’s open mike.  Locals and Capetonians have brought their poetic musings to share with us in the hot roof of a pizza joint.

The poetry is bad.   “Real bad”, I mutter into my glass, scouting the faces around me.  A man’s fingers read his bumpy poetry; his companion stands dangerously close to him.  I misread the  situation and try to strangle Marie.  Teliwe is weeping. “It’s so beautiful,” she sighs.  A heated argument ensues about the nature of poetry.      Poetry is objective,”  I say knowingly.  Marie looks at  me with her surprised eyebrows and slugs at her beer. Teliwe cries a little more.  “Poetry is subjective,”  I sneer.   Teliwe wails and rises from her chair. “Poetry is subjective!” I gasp without conviction. “Ah, maybe we should be lovers,” cries Marie, hugging us to her Egyptian body.  She wants to listen to Mozart in the NG church. “I object!”, I holler, feeling a little like Alice with the flamingo grasped in pale hands.

It’s much later in the evening and we are screaming at the skinny musician “Encore!”  He says he is missing a few strings.  We nod knowingly and beg for more. Teliwe gets cross with the German bumming cigarettes from her.  I say her anger is misdirected.  The German says he lives in a mansion with 11 rooms and two pools. I wonder if there is a steamroom. But I don’t bother to ask. The musician plays “Violent Femmes” and Teliwe opens the dancefloor.  Her long red, body sways and dips, a little smile playes across her face.  The German is trying to be as cool as Johnny Cash, he flicks his hips and blows smoke into the air. Then glances over at me for approval.  I am thinking how I feel like the beans in Jack’s bag.  The ones that he swapped for the cow.  And I wonder what will sprout out next.

Copyright: Theresa Brown

It’s late. Arm in arm we jump wide-legged across pools of water in the glistening street. Water gushes violently along the gutter. We hold our wet faces up and swallow the sky and stars and soggy clouds.  We are immortal.  We run with strong legs. 

We lay our happy bodies down on crushed rose petals, candles flickering and die into a long penetrating darkness.  We rest and sleep like the innocents.