Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Missing horses

Enlarge poem

My father’s hands were big and tanned
the backs covered in dark hair
he was a sportsman
good at polo, golf, squash, darts, tennis
a man with exceptional hand-eye co-ordination
and he could draw horses
from memory

In the second half of his life
he missed horses, every day,
horses were his inner life
he yearned for horses, to be among them
to ride them
to smell the hot sweat of horse after a polo match
to hold soft leather reins in his hands again

My father only once ever laid a hand on me
he wasn’t given to hidings
he wasn’t an affectionate man either, not to me
I loved him because I knew
how sad he was about the horses —
my mother made him choose
it’s either me or the horses, she said

Colleen Higgs

Featured Poem:

Marriage

Enlarge poem

The birds have all gone, the river is fuller
the days are shorter, and the rain is coming.
My life will end. I’ve seen it now, I’ve seen the face of death.

They came and wheeled your mother away
on a metal trolley. Instead of mohair or cashmere, they
covered your mother with a rough, grey blanket.

I can’t know what you know, how you really feel
I can only surmise from how I see you spend your days
and what you come up with, what you have to show for it all after all

I’m here, not exactly waiting. I’m distracted,
busy, reading, preoccupied, thinking, dreaming.
But if you wanted to say something more to me
than paint colour, OSB, plywood, pergola, mast, tiller
screen, decking, boat, weather, wind, supper, diesel prices
I would listen.

Except, this is the way you talk to me of what is in your heart.
My own heart is thickened, hardened against your anguish.
There are gashes in our understandings
I can’t know what you know.

(the last two lines come from a poem by Adrienne Rich)

collen_higgs_badilisha

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  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (1)
  • Reflection (2)
  • Captivation (1)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (1)
  • Sorrow (1)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (2)
  • Sadness (2)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

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Biography

Colleen Higgs is the publisher and founder of Modjaji Books, a small independent feminist press based in Cape Town. Inspired by Modjadji, the Rain Queen of Limpopo, Modjaji Books aims to fill a gap by taking seriously women’s writing from southern Africa.  As a powerful female force for good, growth, new life, and regeneration, the press works at creating a space for those experiences and voices that may not fit in to the constraints of more mainstream publishers.  Many Modjaji titles have gone on to be nominated for and some to win prestigious literary awards.

A writer herself, Colleen Higgs’s poems and stories have been published in literary magazines, women’s magazines and in academic journals, and she has had stories published in collections such as DinaaneJust Keep Breathing Home, Away; and Stray. Colleen’s own books include the poetry collections Halfborn Woman, Lava Lamp Poems, and a collection of short stories, Looking for Trouble.

Colleen is a publishing activist and has long been a supporter of small, independent publishing; through her previous work at the Centre for the Book, she managed the award-winning Community Publishing Project, and she has written numerous articles, pamphlets on writer development. She also compiled two Small Publishers’ Catalogues of African publishers (2010 and 2013) and wrote A rough guide to Small Scale and Self-Publishing (2005) which was translated into 4 South African langauges and sold thousands of copies.

Colleen Higgs

collen_higgs_badilisha
collen_higgs_badilisha

Biography

Colleen Higgs is the publisher and founder of Modjaji Books, a small independent feminist press based in Cape Town. Inspired by Modjadji, the Rain Queen of Limpopo, Modjaji Books aims to fill a gap by taking seriously women’s writing from southern Africa.  As a powerful female force for good, growth, new life, and regeneration, the press works at creating a space for those experiences and voices that may not fit in to the constraints of more mainstream publishers.  Many Modjaji titles have gone on to be nominated for and some to win prestigious literary awards.

A writer herself, Colleen Higgs’s poems and stories have been published in literary magazines, women’s magazines and in academic journals, and she has had stories published in collections such as DinaaneJust Keep Breathing Home, Away; and Stray. Colleen’s own books include the poetry collections Halfborn Woman, Lava Lamp Poems, and a collection of short stories, Looking for Trouble.

Colleen is a publishing activist and has long been a supporter of small, independent publishing; through her previous work at the Centre for the Book, she managed the award-winning Community Publishing Project, and she has written numerous articles, pamphlets on writer development. She also compiled two Small Publishers’ Catalogues of African publishers (2010 and 2013) and wrote A rough guide to Small Scale and Self-Publishing (2005) which was translated into 4 South African langauges and sold thousands of copies.

Missing horses

Enlarge poem

My father’s hands were big and tanned
the backs covered in dark hair
he was a sportsman
good at polo, golf, squash, darts, tennis
a man with exceptional hand-eye co-ordination
and he could draw horses
from memory

In the second half of his life
he missed horses, every day,
horses were his inner life
he yearned for horses, to be among them
to ride them
to smell the hot sweat of horse after a polo match
to hold soft leather reins in his hands again

My father only once ever laid a hand on me
he wasn’t given to hidings
he wasn’t an affectionate man either, not to me
I loved him because I knew
how sad he was about the horses —
my mother made him choose
it’s either me or the horses, she said

Featured Poem:

Marriage

Enlarge poem

The birds have all gone, the river is fuller
the days are shorter, and the rain is coming.
My life will end. I’ve seen it now, I’ve seen the face of death.

They came and wheeled your mother away
on a metal trolley. Instead of mohair or cashmere, they
covered your mother with a rough, grey blanket.

I can’t know what you know, how you really feel
I can only surmise from how I see you spend your days
and what you come up with, what you have to show for it all after all

I’m here, not exactly waiting. I’m distracted,
busy, reading, preoccupied, thinking, dreaming.
But if you wanted to say something more to me
than paint colour, OSB, plywood, pergola, mast, tiller
screen, decking, boat, weather, wind, supper, diesel prices
I would listen.

Except, this is the way you talk to me of what is in your heart.
My own heart is thickened, hardened against your anguish.
There are gashes in our understandings
I can’t know what you know.

(the last two lines come from a poem by Adrienne Rich)

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

Missing horses

Enlarge poem

My father’s hands were big and tanned
the backs covered in dark hair
he was a sportsman
good at polo, golf, squash, darts, tennis
a man with exceptional hand-eye co-ordination
and he could draw horses
from memory

In the second half of his life
he missed horses, every day,
horses were his inner life
he yearned for horses, to be among them
to ride them
to smell the hot sweat of horse after a polo match
to hold soft leather reins in his hands again

My father only once ever laid a hand on me
he wasn’t given to hidings
he wasn’t an affectionate man either, not to me
I loved him because I knew
how sad he was about the horses —
my mother made him choose
it’s either me or the horses, she said

Comments

Your email address will not be published.