Image: Love leading the Pilgrim by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones

“Life as a Journey” is an often-used metaphor.

Life’s very components are metaphoric – there is a beginning and an end, both of which are heavy with the mystery of arrival and departure. And, of course, there is the road itself that must be walked.

This metaphor is at risk of becoming a cliché. We see T-shirts proclaim: Life is a journey – are you packed? Advertisers make use of it, so we are compelled to consider: ‘Are you driving your BMW? Have you got your Johnny Walker? Are you dressed in Gucci? Are you fragranced by Dior?’

How we travel our life’s journey is largely up to us. We are given a milieu in which to live, along with a set of circumstances, but we ourselves decide how to make use of those components. We can live in the shallows, if we want to. We can live without ever seeking meaning. We can live as consumers of things that have no intrinsic value.

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One of Patricia Schonstein’s ‘Found Poems’ in the anthology Africa Ablaze!  is crafted from a question posed to a former Rhodesian soldier about poetry and war.

The poem, which takes place in Bulawayo airport’s departure lounge, is formulated around two extreme responses – the poet’s and the soldier’s – as to whether poetry has the capacity to stop war.

It’s a dark, humorous, even absurd interaction around deadly serious subject matter. It reflects the poet’s absolute belief that poetry can be transformational, alongside a total denial of this notion by the soldier.

You hear the soldier’s sarcastic bark, ‘Should we have waved Tennyson under their noses?’ followed by a dismissive brush off, ‘Give me a break, Lady!’

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“Excuse me, random stranger… may I read you a love poem?”

This is how I welcomed people into the intimate Poetry Corner of  Chandler House in Cape Town.

The excellent Michael Chandler was blending fine art and poetry, love and beauty, Bukharas and erotica on last night’s First Thursday in Cape Town.

“I’m not going to seduce you,” I’d say to those who looked hesitant or wary. “I mean only to share some expressions of love.”

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I grew up in colonial Rhodesia.

While still very young, I noticed that African children generally walked barefoot, while I did not, and that their little feet were rough and calloused. It was through this simple indicator that I first became aware of dire poverty.

As an adult, I use this image of the unshod child as a yard-stick for measuring whether the basic needs of childhood are properly addressed.

These are not simply the needs for shoes and clothing, but also for nutrition, health and education.

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“Love is winged bolts of fire. Love is flame. Water in flood cannot quench love, nor rivers wash it away.”

Some time ago, in a second hand book shop in Salt River, I imagined myself reciting these words from King Solomon’s Song of Songs to a random, handsome stranger, and thereby opening a conversation.

We were the only two customers, both of us in the poetry section. Perhaps because the stranger was paging through Ingrid Jonker, I idly wondered how love expressed itself in his life and whether he navigated its highways and byways competently. How did his arms hold? His hands caress? His mouth touch? Did he buy flowers? Did he remember important dates?

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Robert Vaccaro has sculpted a magnificent leopard from used gin traps.

It was unveiled earlier this month at The Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town by Justin Bonello and Francis Garrard of the Conservation Action Trust.

In creating the sculpture, Vaccaro used just some of the 220 gin traps collected from eleven farms in the Baviaanskloof area.

The sculpture is a monument to the thousands of leopards and other natural predators that suffer agonising deaths in gin traps.

It highlights that wild animals have a right to life and that the use of such traps by farmers is barbaric. There are more humane ways of protecting livestock from predators.

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