I had the privilege of being invited to read poems at the recent Montagu Boekefees. There, I presented poems of ‘Portraits, dorpies and the plaas’ from the Africa! anthologies and Stanzas .
Through the poems, I created a South African diorama of emotions, experiences and glimpses into personal lives. Some depicted abuse and others were amorous. One marked the end of innocence, and another, by Jane Fox, was a beautiful mourning poem.

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I often imagine everyday life to be theatre in which we take up roles, costuming ourselves and acting out as personae removed from our true being.

I’m fascinated by the props we set up in our lives; by the way we change scenes and locations; and by how infrequently the truth of our meaning is revealed. All too often it is the pretended meaning that comes to the fore. There is often a ‘replay of unresolved things’, a pastiche of errors played out from one generation to the next.

I made use of a theatrical template when composing my latest novel, The Inn at Helsvlakte. The characters entered my life as formidable personages in the deep night or at dawn, which is when I wrote them. I preferred interacting with them when everyone else slept, because they were demanding and forceful and because, for a while, I experienced some difficulties in separating the ‘real’ theatre of my own world and that of the fiction.

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If I were asked, in my role as a curator of poetry anthologies,
“Whose company do you keep in your everyday working life”,
I’d answer that I keep the company of Poets.

A second question might be:
“What are you exposed to, in the company of Poets?”

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The Burundian artist, Serge Alain Nitegeka, has created a powerful installation at The Norval Art Museum in Cape Town called Structural Response III and I recently read a selection of poems alongside it.

Structural Response III is Nitegeka’s response to forced migration and the crises of refugees.
It is imposing and forms an obstacle that is not easily traversed.
It does not represent a place of new or even good fortune.

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Wednesday is garbage collection day in our area.

Over the years, I have befriended many people who go through the rubbish of the neighbourhood, taking out what can still be eaten, used again, recycled or sold.

Most of these people are homeless and live rough. All are extremely poor. Alcoholism claws at many without mercy.

A host of lessons are learnt, some of which are practical and should be obvious – don’t just chuck out food. Wrap it and put it in a clean bag on top of the bin. Wrap broken glass and tins in newspaper so that ‘Diggers’ don’t cut themselves. Bag unwanted clothes separately. Don’t throw out medicines that are not labelled. Etc.

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My time as Poet in Residence at David Krut Projects comes to an end with the closing of their Cape Town gallery at Montebello this month.

What a privilege it has been to read poetry there, alongside works of art, drawing poems from the AFRICA! Anthologies; the POETRY  IN McGREGOR FESTIVAL Anthologies; the first twelve issues of STANZAS; and a number of collections, including translations from the Italian of Valerio Magrelli’s work.

In bidding farewell, I reflect on four exhibitions –

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