The spiritual home of poetry in South Africa is, without doubt, Temenos in the village of McGregor, where the annual Poetry in McGregor Festival takes place.

Temenos, which has a garden designed and nurtured with prayer and contemplation in mind, is the hub of the festival. The generous residents of McGregor offer their galleries, studios, recital halls, courtyards and restaurants as venues for poetry readings. The magnificent Groote Kerk also lends its ear, granting space to poets and their muses.

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Waiting my turn in a queue, I read to myself from the proof copy of Absolute Africa! the poem Heart by Andries Walter Oliphant.
I reflect upon the energies of Mercy and Compassion and wonder what prompts them to arise in the human heart.
I look out the shop window at diamonds of rain falling from the sky.
Then I see, through a lull in rushing traffic, the figure of a girl in orange crouched against the grey highway bridge.
She seems to be in prayer, rocking back and forth.
I buy her a cup of cocoa and a muffin.
She dips her finger into the chocolate foam and licks it.
She drinks slowly on this bitter Cape winter day.
Sometimes just the splash of colour is enough to call the heart.

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Testamento, a poem by Alda Lara, is about Deep-Giving.
By Deep-Giving, I mean the giving, not of accumulated material possessions that have no intrinsic value, but the giving of things that influence heart and soul during a life.

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At the Poetry in McGregor 2017 Festival, Lara Kirsten presented a Performance and Installation – “The Poem as Mirror” – in the Spiral Forest of Temenos Gardens.

From the branches, she hung printed poems and numerous shards¬ of mirror, each measuring about the size of notebook pages. These reflected sky, foliage and light as they moved gracefully in breezes; or with strength if the wind came up. When the air was still, they were like sentries. Glass squares were placed around the perimeter of the Spiral Forest and they too were filled with sky.

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Wilfried Schärf, a friend of many years, died this month.
He had been a lawyer, Professor of Criminal Justice, and Director of the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cape Town.
A one-time jeweller, he could identify edible mushrooms and was a great cook.
He was a man of integrity; a descendent of German Moravian missionaries whose heart was scored with an inviolable sense of justice.

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Is it not time to view the deliberate killing of wild creatures as murder?

If the Minneapolis dentist, Dr Walter J Palmer – who allegedly hunted down Cecil, Lion of Hwange, in Zimbabwe – had lured a woman away from the High Street and down a dark alley; then shot her with a crossbow, only to wound her mortally, leaving her to drag herself, bleeding and in extreme pain; with him pursuing her and shooting her dead, beheading and skinning her – he would surely, in his home country at least, receive the death penalty for premeditated murder and dismemberment of a body.

His gruesome deed might be interpreted by some as a crime against humanity for, perhaps, the woman left behind infants; or was the last breeding mate of an endangered, cultural group, in the way that Cecil, Lion of Hwange, was the father of cubs and a critical contributor to a diminishing gene pool.

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