Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

The day she died

Enlarge poem

Tonight, as I walk, midnight swallows me
on a road only I can see.
Night blades
its way to my tongue –
a dance that tastes like old tin.
Midnight swallows me tonight –
the last of the road spits me into morning.
The day ends even as I say it,
the day that doesn’t know.
The slice of light that tears the sky,
this morning should be banished,
be hounded to a black hole.
The world should know yesterday
ended.

Christine Coates

Featured Poem:

The Sounds of School

Enlarge poem

Umtata Station –
a hiss of steam, the scream of steel –
her trunk, her tuck box,
tennis rackets, hockey sticks, hankies and photo frames
a cabin of old girls, new girls,
the girl from Qumbu,
her two brothers and their stories of boarding school.

Boiling cabbage, spirogyra and frog’s eggs,
half-term, mid-term;
all these are the senses of school –

and then the bugle call –

the caterpillar tracks, the clunking factories, coal fires,
the roar of the forties,
rumours, threats,
Hitler and Sieg Heil,

The bugle calls –

and the boys are off on their awfully big adventure.
She learns a new geography –
Rommel and Desert Rats,
Sidi Rezegh.

and the last post.

Six long years and the train pulls in;
she searches the confusion of shouts and smoke
and then –
only her older brother appears
through the steam.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (1)
  • Pride (1)
  • Optimism (1)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (2)
  • Reflection (6)
  • Captivation (2)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (3)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (5)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

Comments

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Biography

Christine Coates is a poet and writer from Cape Town. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. She has an interest in life-writing or memoir, and the recovery of personal history through public and private imagery. She makes hand-wrought books from found objects, paper and leather. She has undertaken the 800km pilgrimage across Spain, on the Camino de Compostela, and written an account of it.

Her stories and poems have been published in various literary journals; New Contrast, New Coin, Deep Water Literary Journal, scrutiny2, Stanzas, McGregor Poetry festival anthologies 2014, 2015. Found Poem was a finalist in the Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry Review 2002, Africa Focus. Her poems were selected for the EU Sol Plaatje Poetry anthologies 2011 – 2015, and the Best “New” African Poets 2015 Anthology. Her debut collection, Homegrown, published in 2014 by Modjaji Books received an honourable mention from the Glenna Luschei Prize. Of the Prize judge Gabeba Baderoon said, “I read these books and many of the poems again and again. The [finalist books] feel thoughtfully shaped, rivetingly intelligent and superbly crafted.  I found them a pleasure and an education to read. Indeed, my horizons were vastly expanded by the extraordinarily well-realized poems in these collections.”

Her short stories have been highly commended; “The Cat’s Wife” in ADULTS ONLY, the Short.Sharp.Stories anthology 2014, and “How We Look Now” in WATER, the Short Story Day Africa anthology 2015. 

She has also written a cookbook: From the Heart; family, food and memory. Christine belongs to Finuala Dowling’s monthly poetry group and a women’s writing collaborative; The Grail Women Writers. She has worked as a teacher and adult educator. Now she freelances as an editor and writing coach. 

Christine Coates

Biography

Christine Coates is a poet and writer from Cape Town. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. She has an interest in life-writing or memoir, and the recovery of personal history through public and private imagery. She makes hand-wrought books from found objects, paper and leather. She has undertaken the 800km pilgrimage across Spain, on the Camino de Compostela, and written an account of it.

Her stories and poems have been published in various literary journals; New Contrast, New Coin, Deep Water Literary Journal, scrutiny2, Stanzas, McGregor Poetry festival anthologies 2014, 2015. Found Poem was a finalist in the Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry Review 2002, Africa Focus. Her poems were selected for the EU Sol Plaatje Poetry anthologies 2011 – 2015, and the Best “New” African Poets 2015 Anthology. Her debut collection, Homegrown, published in 2014 by Modjaji Books received an honourable mention from the Glenna Luschei Prize. Of the Prize judge Gabeba Baderoon said, “I read these books and many of the poems again and again. The [finalist books] feel thoughtfully shaped, rivetingly intelligent and superbly crafted.  I found them a pleasure and an education to read. Indeed, my horizons were vastly expanded by the extraordinarily well-realized poems in these collections.”

Her short stories have been highly commended; “The Cat’s Wife” in ADULTS ONLY, the Short.Sharp.Stories anthology 2014, and “How We Look Now” in WATER, the Short Story Day Africa anthology 2015. 

She has also written a cookbook: From the Heart; family, food and memory. Christine belongs to Finuala Dowling’s monthly poetry group and a women’s writing collaborative; The Grail Women Writers. She has worked as a teacher and adult educator. Now she freelances as an editor and writing coach. 

The day she died

Enlarge poem

Tonight, as I walk, midnight swallows me
on a road only I can see.
Night blades
its way to my tongue –
a dance that tastes like old tin.
Midnight swallows me tonight –
the last of the road spits me into morning.
The day ends even as I say it,
the day that doesn’t know.
The slice of light that tears the sky,
this morning should be banished,
be hounded to a black hole.
The world should know yesterday
ended.

Featured Poem:

The Sounds of School

Enlarge poem

Umtata Station –
a hiss of steam, the scream of steel –
her trunk, her tuck box,
tennis rackets, hockey sticks, hankies and photo frames
a cabin of old girls, new girls,
the girl from Qumbu,
her two brothers and their stories of boarding school.

Boiling cabbage, spirogyra and frog’s eggs,
half-term, mid-term;
all these are the senses of school –

and then the bugle call –

the caterpillar tracks, the clunking factories, coal fires,
the roar of the forties,
rumours, threats,
Hitler and Sieg Heil,

The bugle calls –

and the boys are off on their awfully big adventure.
She learns a new geography –
Rommel and Desert Rats,
Sidi Rezegh.

and the last post.

Six long years and the train pulls in;
she searches the confusion of shouts and smoke
and then –
only her older brother appears
through the steam.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (1)
  • Pride (1)
  • Optimism (1)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (2)
  • Reflection (6)
  • Captivation (2)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (3)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (5)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

The day she died

Enlarge poem

Tonight, as I walk, midnight swallows me
on a road only I can see.
Night blades
its way to my tongue –
a dance that tastes like old tin.
Midnight swallows me tonight –
the last of the road spits me into morning.
The day ends even as I say it,
the day that doesn’t know.
The slice of light that tears the sky,
this morning should be banished,
be hounded to a black hole.
The world should know yesterday
ended.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.