Sunday, September 1, 2019

Authors will be open books at festival

Authors will be open books at festival

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)LUKE FOLB

BOOKWORMS and conversationalists alike will lay bare the complexities of South Africa through a series of discussions, book launches and performances at the annual Open Book Festival.

With more than 150 events scheduled for the 5-day programme, this is the largest festival yet, with topics ranging from poetry to politics, to comics, food and fun. And the engaging and entertaining discussions are designed to keep the conversations going long after the event.

Open Book Festival co-ordinator Frankie Murrey said finding a diverse array of authors and appealing to a younger audience while still keeping voracious readers happy was the mandate of the festival.

“We spend a lot of time figuring out which authors to invite and then how to present that to a large network of people. People like great conversations and want to challenge themselves, and sometimes those who attend the festival aren’t avid readers but they enjoy a good discussion.

“Generally, people who attend book festivals are an older crowd, so we try to attract a younger audience as well, between 18 and 35 years old, because we want them to come back for the next 10 years,” said Murrey.

The festival also hosts the popular Comics Fest, #cocreatePoetica and various children’s and outreach programmes. Venues for the event include hosts The Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre, as well as the District Six Homecoming Centre and the A4 Arts Foundation. Selected events will also take place outside the city centre, including Elsies River Library and Ottery Library.

Now in its ninth year, the festival has established itself as one of South Africa’s most innovative and leading literary festivals. Murrey said good relationships with publishers also helped the festival to secure high-profile authors for the various events, while also helping to get international writers and speakers to Cape Town.

“It does seem like quite a few books do launch close to Open Book every year, which makes it very exciting for us, but also nerve-racking, because there are a whole chain of things that could go wrong, like the publisher not having copies of the book or the author being over-committed with press events.”

Two of the international authors attending this year – Chigozie Obioma and Oyinkan Braithwaitehave – have been longlisted for The Booker Prize 2019. Last year’s crowd favourite, Jamaican writer Nicole Dennis-Benn, will also return.

South African authors taking part include Rekgotsofetse Chikane, Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Caryn Dolley, Zimitri Erasmus, Ishay Govender-Ypma, Kelly-Eve Koopman, Funeka Soldaat, Jonny Steinberg, Refiloe Moahloli and more.

“We’ve had unbelievable people come her over the years, and that makes it easier to get coverage, but at the same time we have to make sure that they remain a ‘nice-to-have’ and not a ‘must-have’ because the festival needs to survive when we have a year where all the writers are debut authors and unknown,” said Murrey.
She said the access the audience had to the writers both before and after their talks made it a unique experience.

“There’s no green room for them and we encourage them to attend other talks to immerse themselves in the festival, and for the audience it’s great because they get multiple opportunities to interact with the authors.

The festival is on from Wednesday to Sunday. See www. Tickets are available at Webtickets.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Sharing Pain of Losing a Husband so Others might cope better


Advice from the heart to help women move on

STRAIGHT TALKING: Author Nomonde Nkqayini speaks about her book.
Scribbling down the pain of losing her husband has given birth to a book that author Nomonde Nkqayini hopes will help give solace to other widows
Scribbling down the pain of losing her husband has birthed a book that author Nomonde Nkqayini hopes will give solace to other widows.

Nkqayini, 39, lost her husband of 20 years, Amos Nkqayini from Port St Johns, in 2016 when he suffered a brain aneurysm.
In her 17-chapter book titled A Story of a Young Bruised Widow, Nomonde details the stages of dealing with the loss, from denial to acceptance.
The book has been published by Grashyo Publishers – Bleed Words.
After the loss of her husband, a police captain, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital with severe depression and memory loss.

“This book came about as a journal. I suffered a very traumatic stress and I ended up losing my mind because of denial. I was given a book to write down everything I felt,” said Nomonde.
She said accepting that she was a widow was difficult.
“I testified to myself and called myself a widow. This book came out of love for my husband, a loving and caring soul.

“I wrote this book to celebrate his life and to tell a story, that not all men are abusers.”
For Nomonde, a customer relations practitioner at Chris Hani district municipality, being a young widow came with carrying the baton for her husband and raising their seven children.
“It was the shock of my life. It’s a day I shall never forget in my life. It happened in front of me. Every time I close my eyes I still see him taking his last breath.”
She is now a motivational speaker and life coach.

Nomonde said the aim of the book was to sensitise other young widows about the challenges they face, such as finances, loneliness and rejection, among other things.
“I want widows to learn to stand on their own and not depend on others.
“They must stop the pity party and rally themselves and work for their children.
“They must open up on matters affecting them due to the loss of their husbands and not cry in corners.

“Yes, I am still bruised. Widowhood is a permanent scar. There is not a single day that passes without me thinking of my husband. Raising my children alone is not easy but God is giving me courage,” she said.

Nomonde advised widows to learn to do all sorts of things, from changing car tyres to plumbing.
“Sitting down and crying and feeling sorry for ourselves won’t solve any problems. Our husband won’t resurrect back to life because we need them.”

There is not a single day that passes without me thinking about my husband

Sunday, August 4, 2019


Hierdie blog is gekom as ‘n idee om basies net ‘n deel van myself te deel met die res van die wêreld. En dit is my liefde vir lees en vir boeke. Hierdie is net ‘n kort inleiding van my en waar my liefde vir boeke vandaan kom.

As kind het my Ma my en my ouer suster altyd aangemoedig om te lees. Byna elke Saterdag het ons familie vir my grootouers gekuier en daar tee gedrink. My ouma het my en my suster altyd bederf met ‘n boks smarties wat saam met die tee gekom het. Ons het daarna na die plaaslike biblioteek toe gegaan om boeke uit te neem. Ek het begin uitsien om elke Saterdag biblioteek toe te gaan want ek het altyd die lekkerste boeke uitgeneem.

As tiener was ek mal oor die Reënboogrant reeks boeke, asook die Sweet Valley High reeks wat geskryf was deur Francine Pascal. As ‘n jong volwassene het ek meer Afrikaanse boeke begin lees, maar dit was als hierdie liefdesverhale wat deur Schalkie van Wyk en baie ander Afrikaanse skrywers byvoorbeeld.

Ek het eers in my laat twintiger jare ‘n bietjie meer uitgebrei oor my smaak van boeke en meer Engelse boeke begin lees. Ek het begin boeke koop en was net te bly toe ek ‘n Reader’s Warehouse net om die draai van ons ontdek het. Ek  kon al die boeke koop teen goeie pryse.

My gunsteling skrywers is Jodi Picoult, Kirsten Hannah, Nicholas Sparks, Nicholas Evans en ek hou ook baie daarvan om oor interesante mense te lees. Ek hou ook daarvan om plaaslike boeke te lees en ook te kyk wat die nuutste op die mark is.

Die rede hoekom ek hierdie blog begin is ook dat ek voel die jeug van vandag mis ook uit op so baie. Ek sal dalk geklassifiseer word as hierdie nerd sonder ‘n ordentlike lewe, maar dit is cool met my. Want die wêreld vir my gaan net oop as ek ‘n boek optel.

Met hierdie blog gaan ek deel watter boeke ek al gelees het, watter boeke ek wil lees en interesante artikels deel oor boeke en skrywers. Dit is net ‘n deel van my wat ek bittergraag wil deel met die wêreld.

A poet and a hero

A poet and a hero

Czech-born literary giant wanted to make poetry relevant to all South Africans

Picture: witsvuvuzela
Peter Horn was puzzled by those who asked why he wrote political poetry.

RIP Peter Horn
● Peter Horn, who has died in Johannesburg at the age of 84, was one of SA’s most prolific and strident anti-apartheid poets.

He was also an outspoken academic who challenged the colonialist attitude to the writing, teaching and interpretation of South African literature in university departments, which he felt was irrelevant to the reality of life under apartheid for the vast majority of South Africans.

He famously tackled the eminent poet and Rhodes University professor of literature, Guy Butler, asking him why he didn’t write about the reality of black poverty and forced removals in SA rather than about birds, bees, veld and vlei.
His abrasive style, which was considered quite normal in Germany, where he came from, was not generally appreciated by the academic literary establishment in SA.

Horn came to SA in the late 1950s barely able to speak English.
His early poetry was written in German and published in Germany. He only started to write in English in 1965 while teaching at the University of SA (Unisa).
At Unisa he and a small group of academics including Walter Battiss agreed there was a need for a poetry magazine to reflect the South African reality. Existing poetry journals catered for white South African poetry that reflected the reality of a “tiny minority”, he wrote, who lived in a “dream world”.
Crossing boundaries

“Artificial boundary lines” needed to be crossed to create “for the first time” poets who were “truly South African, and not only sectional”.

Two years later, while teaching at the University of Zululand, Horn printed the first issue, 250 copies, of the magazine, Ophir, in his Empangeni garage after being forced by his two co-editors to drop a policy statement he had drafted which they felt made it sound like a vehicle for anarchist propaganda.
Ophir was the first poetry magazine in
South Africa to give black poets a voice and a name. Mathews Phosa published his first poem, written in Afrikaans, in Ophir.

Ophir also provided “dissident” white Afrikaans writers with an outlet for their more politically outspoken verse, which they dared not submit to the Afrikaans poetry magazine, Wurm, such as Wilhelm Knobel’s elegy on the “pass bearers” who suffocated in a police van.

Horn argued that their Afrikaans contributors should be used as a weapon against the apartheid regime.

Their work would “irk” the government because it made fun of Afrikaans taboos in a way that wouldn’t work in English, he said, because “it would be an attack from the outside, from the horrible English. But this is a silent explosion from the inside, a stinging nettle rash on the own body.”

Horn actively sought out work from black writers. Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali’s work began to appear in Ophir, followed by other black poets such as Sipho Sepamla and Mongane Wally Serote.

Ophir poets were for the first time writing poetry which was relevant, he said. It developed a readership in universities, schools and townships, but closed in 1976 after a run of 23 issues.

Horn was born in Teplice in what is now the Czech Republic on December 7 1934. At the end of World War 2 he and his family fled to West Germany. After completing his schooling in Freiburg he immigrated with his parents to SA. He graduated from Wits University with a BA in German and English, followed by an honours and PhD in German Studies. He taught at the German school in Johannesburg and in the German departments at Wits, Unisa and the University of Zululand.

Conflict with Special Branch

It was while teaching at the University of Zululand, he said, that he began to understand what it meant to be black and poor in a rural environment. It was also there that he first came into conflict with the authorities and the special branch because of his anti-apartheid views and his poetry, which was subsequently banned for many years.

It was only in 1991 that his collected poems could be and were published by Ravan Press.

He published seven volumes of poetry which appeared in many anthologies and were translated into several languages.

His poems, which were heavily influenced by classical Marxism, were among the most radical being written by white South Africans at the time. They were declamatory in style, and he declaimed them with great gusto at United Democratic Front anti-apartheid rallies in the 80s.

Political poetry

Horn was puzzled by those who asked why he wrote political poetry. Living in SA meant living in an environment of politics and struggle, he said. “Not to write about this would be wilfully closing one’s ears and eyes to the reality which surrounds me.”

He published a collection of short stories,
My Voice is Under Control Now, which won the Herman Charles Bosman prize in 2000. In 2010 he was given a South African Literary Awards lifetime achievement in literature.

He was professor and head of the German department at the University of Cape Town from 1974 to 1999. For several years he was dean of the faculty of arts and acting deputy vice chancellor. He was made an honorary lifetime fellow in 1994.
He became an honorary professor and research associate at Wits in 2005.
In 2014 he and his second wife, Anette Horn, also a professor at Wits and a former student of his, were seriously injured in an attack at their home in Westdene in Johannesburg.

Horn, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017, is survived by Anette. He had four sons, one of whom died some years ago.

Sunday Times 4 August 2019