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Kgebetli Moele

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Corpse Lovers and Corpse Haters

Taban lo Liyong’s Corpse Lovers and Corpse Haters

May be there were reasons of undisputable value why has this collection of poetry was not published when it was conceived, somewhere during the seventies. I think it was so as to give us a refreshed view of what had really transpired in the life of the average men by the poet. A poet as a national symbol representing and presenting the nation as an individual, not the individuality of the poet but each and every individual forming the nation therefore the poets are singularly more powerful than any president/king/queen dead or still breathing. Presidents and Queens rise and fall but poets reside forever within their words, hence this screaming words from the seventies.

This collection was penned during Adi Amin’s reign. He died in 2003 but he has lost “his power” in 1979. Mainly because that power was not his, it was imposed on him by the position that he occupied. In some instances that “power” is imposed on individual by the people/votes. A poet’s power is by virtue of the fact that the poet is a poet. Years after the poets have died, their words – the poets’ artillery – their power remains poet-ing and puppet-ing us.

This forty years plus old collection of poetry about Ugandan life, valid then to the Ugandans, and still more so valuable now not to the Ugandans only but to the continent at large, the universe: the ultimate power of the poet weaving us from between the pages.

Corpse Lovers and Corpse Haters is presented in three movements, the poems are unnamed but numbered creating an enigma of each, to name a poem is to give it away. Within these individually themed movements, the ‘sweet-sad music’ of living life, the agony of living is scrutinised presenting Taban, presenting human beings.

It is a continuous journey of life, the circle of life. The raw honesty of the penning revealed the nature and early maturity of the poet at an early age validated the fact of publishing this collection thirty years later after Amin’s fall without re-editing and adding changes to validate in to our present but the words are valid today.

Corpse Lovers and Corpse Haters is poetry of the personal exposing the life and the men, exploring the primary relations: mother and son, sister and brother, president and the common man to reflect the national and propel it further into the future.

Leading us into the main question here; are you a corpse love or corpse hater? Are you contributing to the betterment of the nation or are you contributing to the benefit of the self? Of course there are weak points as is life but here are the weak points of life: that mix-up to live life, are you a capitalist or socialist, Christian or atheist. The lines are not clear.But ultimately and intimately, we discover the tears of poet Taban lo Liyong as is the tears of every poet, love, a cry for the betterment of society without ulterior motives is deeply portrayed.

Movement one, Corpse Lovers and Corpse Haters, is a reminder of past way of life as it is a powerful warning to the present way that we are living, of the divisions within us, economic, race, nationality, corpse lovers and corpse haters.

My heart has a song to sing;a song difficult to construct or decipher
My heart yearns to give vents to thoughts
Thoughts to clothes ideas with words appropriate

Yet my heart fears the utterance, leave alone the initial point of aim
My heart wants to give praise to the deeds of one who deserves a statue of gold
Yet my heart is troubled
Because the gold will have to be purified by my brethren’s blood.
Woe betide them who needs any heroes

Movement two: I Can’t Write Like Kafka, it is a search for the purpose of a man, the powerful (mis)conceptions that we, human being have as we are searching for a purpose to purpose our lives and the world as we see it, understand and live it.

In our fastination with the West
We shall settle down
Basically the Eastern group
With an honourable mention
In the serpentine west

Movement three: The Curse Of Unfulfilled Talents, is the resignation to life, to ‘fate’ but still a continuing contest of individual perceptions. The ‘sad story’ of dreams that were never realised, of life never lived. The poet ceases/retires/stops/disengages/desist and refuses to write any more.

Sisters and brothers
I now leave the house of Laias to its fate
Adieu, adieu,adieu
My life course is run
My thread has come to an end
My mouth is now sealed
The breath has run out of my lungs
That is my last word.

Anthem for a New Year

By Christopher Van Wyk

I’ve been woken mornings
by bugs inherent in gauche walls where I live
and squeezed my soporific blood from their gourds
and stayed awake
to tell it to the wick of a yawning candle

I have shuffled uneasily
between my pockets
and the tattered brim of a tramp’s hat
and rushed home to protest on a page

(then)                                                                           (Now)
And the kwela-kwela                                                      And the poverty and corruption
that stops before me                                                        that stinks before me
in jo’burg streets – the exhibitionists                              in shack cities and in departments
and spill or loads to the grille                                        the contractionist
suppurating bodies that have no pass or say                    and heap in settlements
this and so much more                                                  bodies to keep the powers in power
has made me run home and sob
in the copious apron of exercise books

This and so much more
This and Riverlea where I live
This and Soweto where I live
This and the Bantustans where I live
This and the Don where I live
This and Duma where I live
This and Fhazel where I live

I live, God, how I live
How I see suffering
grow more blatant
and shed its wardrobe of disguises – its charity
in the oppressive loneliness where I live
where I live days and lives
and I record these lives and days
and my friends they have canvases
and torn pastiches
and gloomy nuances and some shout their hurt from boards
in song

We are a Black bust moulded from dongas
and dirt and tears
and the ugly smut of (Democratic) oppression
but we are proud
of our paint and our pens and our gestures.

But oh how I wait for rapprochement
between God and men
for a time when souls are ripe
when fresh flags are hoisted high
to write an anthem

I’d any day abandon this terrible disposition
to do that – my magnum opus
and you’d be glad, I know
if I’d ask you to write the symphony

Helpless and Hopeless

30 Nights in a Shack

In the South African political context, one cannot help the feelings of complete helplessness and broad-based hopelessness. They are brought about by the political leaders we have – not that we chose, because we never really choose them – but they advance through the party ranks until they are in our daily lives with their flamboyant ways or byways. We have them and at times we even bet with our lives to defend them.

Our complete helplessness and broad-based hopelessness are more magnified on that day that one is in a voting booth with ballot paper and he has to mark with an X. It is in that moment that the fact mock smiles in the face of a South African citizen. You are looking at that paper and your X on that paper is going to affect your life not only for the coming five years but for the rest of your life, as years add to your life regardless of negativity or positive growth.

Our complete helplessness and broad-based hopelessness were evident in the last national elections, as most of the people that I know were not interested in voting and nationally the voting queues were non-existent, furthermore it is reflected in the service delivery protests that we routinely have.

I know that there is an accepted notion that we South Africans are xenophobic but I am telling you for a fact that we black South Africa do not hate anybody. Yes, we have languages and cultures that separate us, each with its superiority complex, but the xenophobia attacks have been mislabelled by the media’s failure to interpret the situation and conditions: disenfranchised, helpless and hopeless South Africans looking at black Africans working harder and accepting underpaying just to survive and while the labour skills employees take advantage of this fact.

It is an international phenomenon where migrants from poor countries migrate and then accepting underpaying jobs. Why weren’t there xenophobic attacks where affluent black Africans live? We have lived with migrants from Mozambique since I was five years old (the time that I became aware of their presence).

Many things have happened in our beautiful country that have shaken me – I washed my hands with the knowledge that we will replace the President after his terms – but only two that have stirred me: PetroSA and recently Jack Bloom. How can PetroSA not have a plan to maintain the fuel price below nine rand? Do they even have a barrier that the fuel price must never go beyond? Or will the fuel price keep rising at will? Do they have crude oil reserves? Did they have to privatise Sasol? Do they have an idea what are they doing?

FYI: the apartheid regime maintained the fuel price under international sanctions.
Every time I think about PetroSA my heart bleeds.

The second is Jack Bloom’s 30 Nights in a Shack: A Politician’s Journey; hence I write this rant. Jack Bloom’s book magnifies our helplessness/hopelessness to Apollo status treating the conditions of the poor as something like bungee jumping for the thrills and satisfaction/reputation-building of the other. Having lived a shack life for years, there was nothing surprising in the book, the resilience and hopeless hope of the South Africans living in squalor not for 30 nights but years. I felt that the 30 nights were Bloom’s ego trip:

I can do something new within the SA political arena so South Africans can notice me.

Sure, some of us have noticed after reading the book and we are sane enough to have noticed that even in the DA lead Western Cape there are shacks that Jack Bloom did not care to stay overnight.


You can make a counter point but while driving to the Mother City on the N2, I witnessed Western Cape’s own Shack City. If Shack Cities are the ruling party’s negligence, why are they in Western Cape, the home of DA?

This is the hopelessness that the DA has gave me for my vote: remember the Blade Nzimande/Helen Zille issue? Blade bought a R2 million car and Helen drove a Toyota costing less than half a million. The worst thing happened, Helen and the DA went after Blade’s character. Blade did not do anything wrong, the only thing wrong was the handbook that said Blade and Helen can drive a car to that value, which was the issue that Helen and the DA should have gone after and changed. Four years later the handbook is still standing and they all drive million rands worth of cars.

I hear you ask a question: why does it bother you and not Nkandla? First because I gave the DA my vote after struggling to make that cross and carefully weighing the options that I had. COPE stimulated our nerves offering us a new kind of hope and help but they only proved that the apple falls not far from the tree as we continued bowing our heads to the status quo.

When EFF exploded in our face, I did not wear red because long before the red came Malema one morning stopped talking about mine nationalisation without giving us his final resolution on the issue – to this day he doesn’t say a word about nationalisation – I was not surprised, I accepted that he shook the Golden Hand.

Somebody caused me a lot of pain using few words that were meant for me to laugh:

“Today in our politics we have a triangle, the red monkeys and the blue
monkeys following the potbellied Lords while singing about what is on their

Everybody laughed but it is not a laughing matter to me. He just stabbed an un-healing wound.

Former president Thabo Mbeki once said that there will be no shacks by 2015 but 2015 is here and he is nowhere to answer to the billion shacks that we still have. What was his plan of action and why hasn’t it been implemented?

The important question that Jack Bloom fails to answer after his bungee jumping, mindblowing experience: has the 30 Nights solved the problem? Is there a bulletproof plan that the DA can implement into the Western Cape, that will eventually force the ruling party to adopt it and eradicate Shack Cities of our beautiful country?

No, because it was just a reputation building mission.

Then the worse fact about 30 Nights in a Shack is the last chapter: HOW YOU CAN HELP. Jack Bloom shifts his responsibility to YOU. Then I lack respect for his stay in a shack, for him as a leader and for the book because since February 2014 there have been more shack fires, shacks to rebuild and shacks built. Jack Bloom’s new motto – “Go experience it for yourself” – does it really need to be experienced and what after the experience, Mr Bloom? Publish a book, YouTube the videos and have a laugh? “This is Black poverty, ha ha ha.”

Our complete helplessness and broad-based hopelessness are not about living in shacks. It is not about the present day economic apartheid, no but it is about the politician’s journey – from Mandela to Zuma and from Leon to Maimane – and this political journey is not concluded in 30 simple nights in a reserved and secured informal settlement treated as if it was a three-star hotel overnight stay.

This political journey is not about looking at the government as the new goldmine where you have a limited time to get as much gold in your reserves as possible.

We need a new crop of politicians to walk this Political Journey.

Again, my complete helplessness and broad-based hopelessness choke me. It mocks me for uttering those words. But yes, YES, we need a new crop of politicians. It mock smiles in my face – whatever it is. I am choking being reminded of one ANC member carrying a banner that read: ANC WILL RULE UNTIL JESUS COMES BACK and I can’t help it, I am helpless to this choking fact.

There is a song in my ears: THE HOLY SPIRIT MUST COME DOWN AND AFRICA WILL BE SAVED and I know we all need it because all the politicians are on a journey of personal fulfilment and enrichment within this country, this beautiful country finger-puppeteer by Hands; Golden Hand, Tender Hand, Bank Hand, … Hand and … Hand.

Hands that have the possessive power to strangle any PRINCIPLE out of a principled politician that they become political skeletons, so that we, South Africans, have to put our trust and hope in skeletons.

Book details

A Fight for Power

Ages ago I was introduced to book of a collection of blunt words called Apocrypha from the hands of Mbongeni Khumalo. After reading the collection, I opened a dictionary looking up the meaning of the word Apocrypha: the dictionary explained that Apocrypha is religious text related to the bible and not officially part of the bible, secondly it said Apocrypha is writing which is not considered genuine. I know that this particular book named Apocrypha is not a religious text and certainly it is genuine. I have never answered myself why the poet titled this collection as thus.

O! dear beloved mbongeni, trust not
thy flatterers; distance thyself
From praise – utterers!
Fear (most) thy friends to the utmost
Be careful of thy black kind
Deceive not thyself in the innocent
Smiling faces of whitefolks!
Count not upon the coloureds.
The Indians had long betrayed thee
The Chinese are not by thy side …
Rely not upon the government.
Be cautious in thy movements,
And wary in thy dealings with man
For a bullet is spared for thee

I was indeed moved by the raw, savage, point blank, ruthless truths that were written within the covers of Apocrypha. It is an angry gaze of a mirror image of the black man and his black power and the falling apart of (our black) collective principles and the developing individual eras of our Black power – Mandela era, Thabo era, Motlante era and Zuma era – and the other powers relating to/fighting them that ultimately is transmitted in to the Black nation and is then simulates the poet. And the poets savagely paints these deep rooted feels of colonised slaves coming to self rule.
Be warned: there are no love poems of romanticism within this collection, except for one, it is not love but imprisoned love that like all a staging of the trouble within the Black man. It is savage black reality steeped in poverty of material and poverty of knowledge, and its imposed/naïve power coming up against savage and ruthless calculating power of the other.
At its best is crippling-no hope-truth, exposing the weakness of the nation slashing out all hopes and dreams because with the current state of the nation, one realise how the poet has hit the bull’s eye twelve years ago because the issues in Apocrypha are still in our face or do I have to say faeces?

I want to tell you what I feel
Whether or not you want
To fulfil the dream that I feel
Not what my family and friends
Would want me to feel
And not to feel what I feel
Nor what literary critics would want
To tell me what to feel
Where to feel when to feel
How to feel
I want to tell you what I feel
Whether or not
You like what I feel
Not what the rain-bow-nation
That rain bowed us to submission
At bow and arrow point
Bowing our knees to hide
What we feel
I want to tell you the angry Truth
Behind our multi-racial-smiles
Of South African hypocrisy
To make you feel
What the government tries
To make you forget to feel
And forgive the wounds
That you feel
To tell you to feel
What prison bars cannot prevent me
To tell you what I feel
I want to tell you what I feel …

What good is a country if its honest citizens – those that see the truth within the words and lines –are choking to death by the reality in the everyday life. The poet dies, becomes void or becomes a praise singer but mostly he shuts up because his warning fall on deaf ears.

The first lie
Is when Mandela
Came out of prison
Wearing suit & tie
Talking of building a nation
But a rainbownation
Is a symbol of con/fusion
Crossed aXes cruci-fiction
Pulling yor neck across
The ballotbox to slaughter yu
Like an ox
Between the thighs of missus

Death of a Blog

There are very few things that I hate about this beautiful country of ours and one of them be me. No, not that kind of hate that you hate yourself with, no and I know that there is something wrong with the shape of my nose – borrow from Vonani Bila – but unlike you I can stand for hours in front of the mirror and unlike you and Michael Jackson, I will never change myself for the world.

I hear you argue poverty.

Yes, I hear you but the worse kind of poverty is poverty not to think, not to have wisdom but just to think in the rightful manner. Because you can have all the wealth in this world but still be a poor materially-full poor being.

Material-full poor being is a man or a woman with poverty of the mind dressing themselves in material wealth trying to fill the mind poverty. And some of them do have MBA.

But I hate yourself?

No, I don’t hate myself, i said that there are very few things that I hate about this beautiful country of ours and one of them be me. I don’t hate myself.
What am I saying?

My favourite blog has not been showing any signs of life since November 2014, ever since it came into existence, it has surpassed even the award winning blocks. I am not sure but I think that the average life of a blog, five to six posts but my favourite blog has been averaging two posts per month since and at best it posted seven a month.
What does a Blog has to do with me hating me and not really hating me?
Because it is a forte of intellect: Let me dispel the false nation that South Africans don’t read: Daily Sun, so believe it South Africans read. The jury is still out: is reading Daily Sun an intellectual forte.

And this is why I hate me. Me not the individual, not the man but me the author, the creative writer. Why did I chose to be that in this beautiful country that doesn’t appreciate that and hence my favourite blog has died and now I am feeling that I am dying intellectually because I visit the site hoping that I will find a new post that can stimulate my thinking ability.


You just said so? Yes you did. So I despise myself for reading that block without making an effort to pay for its stimulating effects on my brain. Drug addicts pay for their fix, drunks pay for their tot and we all pay for our food but we want to read for free.

SO, consider as you read this little blog that the writer sat and composed his thoughts for you to crisscross them.
Consider the Writer for without you, they cannot write for too long.

Copying The Writer

There was seating in a corner of my single room shack musing about another instalment of my writing. Because as important as your work is to our economy and your wellbeing, mine is important to the economy, my wellbeing and the cultural map of what we are in these end times. Very important.
But for the sake of this cultural commitment only, as this occupation has not being helpful to the wellbeing of this literary artist hence he dwells in a shack. That is not the case as poverty is and can be a great source of inspiration.

Remember that series Intersections; when in broad daylight producers and script artists put a gun to this literary artist’s head televising his artistic work, the Book of the Dead. They got away with it paying selves hugely while poverty and hunger continued its colonisation of the literary artist’s life.

There is a teacher willing to teach little willing minds made illegal copies of the literary artist’s work and the artist turned a blind eye but that country Poverty continued it colonisation march.

There I was invited as a special guest to a literary fair, everything went very smooth and the fair was a great success in all respect. Connected to the fair was a music festival and having been within my peers, the muse was resuscitated from its kind of death and though I had free tickets to the music festival, I did not attend. The artists in the music festival were compensated 500 per cent more than the literary artists.
It has been the same story even in international countries where the literary artist is taken for nothing more than an accessory rather than a necessity in a literary fair. They think that accommodating the literary artist in a five star hotel and flying him economy fulfils her life. I don’t take this position as an accessory but more than a means of income, it is a cultural commitment that I have committed this self to.

I had the options:
1. Joined the march Tenderville and be as corrupt more than any of them, whoever is at the top of the Most Corrupt List as my corrupt would have had a creative aspect.
2. Fought for a position as a civil servant and be another of the thousands laziest civil servants we have, narrating gossips on the state phone.

I have chosen this commitment so the next times you think of having a literary artist as an accessory or a “Black Token” in your circles think about compensating him/her properly. And next time you think of making illegal copies of the literary artist’s work, think of a world without the story tellers.

Timbila 7, A Journal of Onion Skin Poetry.

Timbila 7
Ha ku chava,
A wu na vuciva,
U na vukarhi bya ngwenya-nkelenge,
Ndzawulo ya Rihanyu yi tshembhe wena

Bertha Khanyisa Baloyi opens up this edition of Onion Skin Poetry, and in a country like ours: English colonised, force fed Afrikaans at another time and re-colonise itself English with Democracy. It is a privileged, South Africa, a cursed privilege to one like me because I cannot read these words that open up this edition of Timbila. Even though I can communicate in these opening language but I cannot read it. It is a curse because I cannot accurately read my second language, Northern Sotho – recently Sepedi. It is the worse kind of a privileged curse because here I am blaming the editors for not including a translated versions.
What were they thinking in this multilingual nation of ours?

We will leave this earth
Knowing nothing
Learned nothing
Still lost in the light
Dark as the day
We were born

I in-soiled my thoughts in words running away from my reality, skipped another that I could not read and another as Mputlane wa Bofelo comforts me by words with words.

Just let it go
Don’t fasten
Your seat belt
Submit to the turbulence
Vibe with the tides
Surrender to the ocean
Dissolve into the waters

And true, I submit. It doesn’t go but stares me in the eyes because I tried to read isiXhosa and It failed dismally. Tried again and however hard I tried, I only decoded that the poem was dedicated to that poetsmith, Mzandile Matiwane.
… them. What were they thinking in this multilingual nation of ours? There was curse words somewhere this time.
I skipped another Afrikaans poem by Tanya Celliers, skipped, skipped and skipped and I knew that

We will leave this earth
Knowing nothing

Timbila 7 is a journal exploring our world and our inner thoughts, there are also obituaries, interviews and thoughts that to provoke the mind for human humane development. There is pain within this word, a cry for a much better world that we have that I have discovered as a common denominator within great poets, that when they delve into love, they precipitated words that can never be riposted. And the poet’s life becomes a lonely life breeding painful words unfulfilled life always breeds pain.

Given Mukhwevho writes about writing in and out of prison as Goodenough Mashego tries to give reasons and answers to the withering reading tradition: What’s to blame-Apartheid or trash culture, and a research paper by Alpheus Manghezi on recovering African oral history through work songs.

At the heart of Timbila 7 are great words by thirty contemporary poets: issues aside, Timbila 7 is a joyread and issues will always be with us to deal with.

Crackling deafening laughter
In a sunny day.
Igniting the flames of addictions,
Arousing a powerless foam
Of what they call happiness,
Something I don’t have,
Something I long to have

Timbila 6, A Journal of Onion Skin Poetry

There times when things make an impact unto the memory of the heart, the soul and the mind, such things we hold them dear because they are power in our lives. In a writer’s life there are also things of writing/things written that make a whole in the head basket then the author is left wondering; how is it possible?
Timbila has published seven instalments of Onion Skin Poetry Journals. I have ravished and cherished each of them but Timbila 6 rises above them all. For many reasons, valid and invalid; Timbila 6 has become personal and Dear to me.

First invalid reason: Shatale. Shatale, my home township. ‘The township that can go into the Guinness Book of Records as the township with mass mango trees.’ So the Shataletarians claim but I say; I claim that Shatale can go into the Book of Records as the most creative township/suburb/residential in the whole world. Los Angeles can claim to have a high concentration of the most creative people in the world from different places, yes but Shatale has the most creative people of Shatale origin. There are more creative people per square meter in Shatale than anywhere else in the world.
I hear you ask.
You are reading another living evidence, me, bred within Shatale’s cruel streets.
I hear you say.
Is that all the evidence?
Another invalid reason: Timbila 6.

The cover of Timbila 6 is a metaphor of what really is Shatale: There is a young girl standing at a locked gate with eyes that are hoping too much for much of that is beyond the locked gate. Something foreign to Shatale that she is looking at; that is passing by without noticing her and the background behind her is the dead rotting community that she reside within.

my town
my neighbourhood
my adopted home
my 2nd stop on my journey of life
i’m ashamed of you
‘cuz you harbour lunatics
what good have you done me
my dear township
i gave you my life, you messed it
prayed for your forgiveness
you demanded my head
you are disgusting you know

crime-ridden & muti-infested
witches dance amid sips of blood
here is where demons dance ballroom
killer roams the streets unblessed
you take the message & kill the messenger
even the goose that lays the golden egg
you slaughter on sight & laugh

you keep me stranded in you
my dear township
show me love don’t show me shit
my dear township
you are drifting from bad to worse
my dear township
soon dogs will be eating dogs
my dear township
& you’ll be parading a different image outside

I have a love and a ceaseless need for Shatale but I am not happy with Shatale because I know that I am that little girl on the cover suffocating to realise the self. We are that little girl. We are all locked like the little girl eating unceasing mangos and avocados.

Let’s all bow our heads
And dedicate a prayer to our ghettos
Mourn the streets claimed
Ownership to the final breath
Of our fallen heroes
Poverty is like constipation
To my people’s stomachs
When they fart all you smell
Is hunger

It is when you look closer and see the mirror images that live within this space that we know as Shatale. A Shatale that we don’t have a choice but we love with a hate that one hates her/his mother because we don’t have anything but this Shatale. Even though we hate it, deep inside we love it.

I’ll tell you why!
In this plastic world of fratricide
I am fed poverty and human livers
Told land is free in the burial grounds
Why not die of AIDS and ticks
Instead of sodomised brains?

Timbila 6 is Timbila’s best achievement and magnifies their sole function, purpose and commitment to the creative nation, of unearthing voices that would have never had chance to be heard. That born-again is not only a term confined to religion, so that we have born-agains: Given Mukwevho is born again, he is no longer a prisoner but a wordsmith. And I know that the future will know Mzandile Matiwana as a great poet.

Yes Timbila 6 is not about Shatale, it is a journal, A Journal of Onion Skin Poetry featuring poets from across this earth. It is just that for invalid reasons I love it because

where i’m from
is lots of things not worth writing about

An Obituary of a Living Man

James Woodhouse, editor and publisher at Kwela Books, resigned. Resigned? Or rather, was fired about a month ago. I think and believe that he was fired as he never even sent a goodbye email. He deserted this ship in deep sea and vanished.

I got to know James Woodhouse by phone when he called in 2003 after he read the hard copy of my manuscript “Aborted Foetus Growing”, standing at 98 000 words in size 10 font. By his words he had just finished reading a series of dead manuscripts and he looked at the thickness and the font size of mine, shaking his head. He was not going to read it, but then he was compelled to read it. The opening pages touched him and on the morning of the third day he gave me a call. Since that day we were communicating regularly.

Room 207 should have been with us by 2004 but the then-Kwela publisher Annamarie resigned and Nelleke became publisher. There was a relationship that grew between me, James and Nelleke, and my then-girlfriend warned me about the relationship. “These people are working, you are just a job to them, nothing more.” But the relationship was personal, at least on my side.

When Nelleke trashed the book and proved my girlfriend right, James was there to give a comforting hand. There was a relation there that was not business, but it was business. Today I only have these words to comfort me and continue to travel – to borrow from Titlestad – this lonely trivial road.

James Woodhouse loved words, words moved him and made his life whole. He left some the most important things in life, that you and I would consider first and foremost, just to deal with words – words, from manuscript to publication.

And here I am in tears for losing for a word-man in my life as a living being and writer.

A Journal of Onion Skin Poetry

There is a concept in poetry nation stating that if a potential poet doesn’t find a home for his or her poems they can start a poetry journal, and publish themselves and their friends. Good idea, the poet then becomes editor and publisher. Most of the time good poet/editor/publishers feeding us with words that comforts, sooth making right what is wrong about us, people. And the Poetry Nation has seem many of these journals, they came and the Nation danced to the rain of poetic words and then they went, the Nation mourned the death of Words and the thirst for poetic words of comfort grew boundless.
But is there any truth to that concept?
It is indeed a great solution and many creative people have travelled this road but eventually the creativity fuel runs out or the Poet/Editor/Publisher gains the responsibility that comes with ageing. And you know the things that ageing can accomplish, has accomplished in your life. The Poet/Editor/Publisher drowns in life – backed up by the reputation from the publications – of servitude.
But then there is Vonani Bila and Timbila or but then there is Timbila and Vonani Bila. Time is still to attest to us that which is first, the former or the latter? But as the evidence stand this day it looks like Timbila doesn’t fall within this concept and if it does then Vonani Bila has a lot of friends or has made a lot of friends within the Poetry Fraternity, sorry Poetry Nation.
Poetry Nation is a special breed of people that are not like the avarage.
Timbila has discovered, polished and published a whole lot of Poets and Writers; the AWOL poet Mpho Ramano – poets are validated by products in this case poetry and poetry performers who lulls us with great-sweet-rhyming words but on paper and on stage Ramano rises above all.
Maishe Jenkins – the woman from America who came home and found peace.
Makhosana Xaba – her mother nursed her into life but she was nursed into being by Timbila.
Given Mukhevho – Timbila unlocked him out of prison of life and living.
David wa Maahlamela – Timbila nartured him to life.
Goodenough Mashego – the greatest of all poets, Dead or alive.
And the list goes on and on, aech publication bears testimony to this fact: Timbila means business.
Each year Timbila publishes a journal, they call it a Journal of onion skin poetry and for the past ten years they have succeeded in churning out pure poets and great-perfect poetry, representing the landscape without borrowing anything from apartheid and even milking from the ruling party; a measure of greatness in poetry and in the exceptional poets.
The sad story is the fact that faces Journals like Timbila, like the Donga, the Staff-rider, WordsETC, you read this with the knowledge that one day Timbila will bite the dust and I hope that you are praying that it doesn’t.