Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

My hope is an unfeathered thing

Enlarge poem

My hope is an unfeathered thing.
Naked as a child
learning to walk for the first time.
Naked and determined as a child
expecting to fall,

get up, and fall.
Who is afraid of the dark.
For whom tears come easy
but are just as soon forgotten.

My hope is a dog with a smile on her face,
an eager spring in each stride.
Who is expecting me home.
Always happy to see me.
No matter how long the absence.
How short the chain.
How swept and barren the yard.

My hope is a widow in an empty house,
counting each carrot and potato
before the weekly shop.
Who has taught herself to sleep alone
amid muttering shadows.
Who expects nothing but what will come
from her own unbowed strength.
Yet is prepared to be surprised.

My hope is an unfeathered thing.
It does not soar,
it digs.
It has soil under each fingernail,
anchored to the possibility of miracles in the dark.
The burst seed, the single tap root.

The stress, the strain.
The ache and pain.
The setback and gain.
The drought, the rain.
The wax and wane.

The here-we-go-again.
The trying to sustain.
An audacious claim.
That is a push toward the light.

My hope is unfeathered.
Its hands weathered.
Soul tethered.
Rhyme unmeasured.

But sometimes it is pleasured
With the collapse of syllable
into the music of chance.
A care so free
it plays like dance.
An incandescent rapture,
or brief insouciance.

Will you join me?

My hope is an unfeathered thing.
It does not soar,
it digs.

Deborah Seddon

Featured Poem:

We Are Mostly Water

Enlarge poem

They are telling tales of you in Spanish
on both sides of the Atlantic.
On Facebook you have written up a small legend
of your time in Buenos Aires.
Your tattoo, the tango championships,
your appearance on Rock & Pop FM.
A ring for every finger in the street markets.
Strolling under the gaze of the pink house of parliament,
its rose-coloured colonnades once tinted with the blood of an ox.

In Grahamstown the taps went dry for four entire days.
The townsfolk were dirty and mad.
The police brought helmets, shields, and a water cannon
to the protest.
In the crowd, one woman suggested inciting a riot,
just to get a shot at the water.

Each day there is only air in the pipes.
How strange, that the absence of water
should sound so like an ocean.
The suck and hiss on a line
as the phone connects across acres of sea.

At dawn I carry buckets from the rain tank.
Warm three large pots on the stove,
squat in the bath like a frog,
and toss them, methodically, over my head.
Wet.
Soap.
Rinse.

My life has made me an artist of bucket baths.
Of making the most of very little.
But how I curse the brevity of connection
when all the modest pots of it are done.

As I turn again from chopping board
to empty tap to rinse my hands,
I think of reaching for yours.
And ponder how it is that water is like love.

We are drenched in it. Steeped.
We play with it, waste it.
An outage brings a reckoning with need.
How deep and vast and recurrent it is.

I know, I know, even now we are connected,
an ocean holds our continents in the crook of each arm.
But I am listening for water in the pipes.
I want to hear the sound of it
gurgling closer to home.

I want to bathe again,
to wallow and luxuriate,
run its little rivulets into all the hollow places,
connect with every inch of my skin.

From my crown top
down
to each
of my
toes.

Deborah Seddon_badilisha

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

Comments

  1. beautiful … the wonderfully woven, time textured, intimately expressed, richly read , “We Are Mostly Water,”-in Debbie’s resonantly lovely voice.
    Thank you.

    lesley nott manim

Your email address will not be published.

Biography

Deborah Seddon is an academic and a poet who was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, but is now based in Grahamstown, South Africa, where she teaches South African, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and English Renaissance literature in the Rhodes University English Department. Her academic research is focused on South African orature and the transnational aesthetics of spoken word poetry. She is a founding member of the Cycle of Knowledge, a poetry organization consisting of students, school learners, and poets from the local community. The Cycle of Knowledge was created in 2013, and is a community engagement partnership between the Rhodes University English Department and the Writers’ Movement: a group of poets located in Joza, Grahamstown. The weekly sessions of the Cycle of Knowledge alternate between meetings on campus and in Joza, and provide a range of educational activities around writing, reading, and performing poetry. These include discussions of the work of South African and international poets, creative writing exercises, poetry ciphers and open mike sessions, editing and group feedback sessions on individual works, performances on campus, in town, and at local schools, recording poetry in video formats, collating biographies of the poets involved, and documenting the group’s activities.

Since 2006, Deborah has been a member of Aerial Publishing, a self-financing community publishing project based in Grahamstown, which received its start-up funding from the Centre for the Book in Cape Town. The committee annually calls for manuscripts of poetry and prose, mainly from Grahamstown writers, and chooses two per year to publish. Aerial Publishing edits, designs, and prints all their publications themselves, using funds raised by the sales of their books.

Deborah has published academic papers on South African literature and orature, African-American literature, South African engagements with Shakespeare, and on pedagogy in post-apartheid South Africa. Some of her poems appear in Writing From Here and Aerial.

Deborah Seddon

Deborah Seddon_badilisha
Deborah Seddon_badilisha

Biography

Deborah Seddon is an academic and a poet who was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, but is now based in Grahamstown, South Africa, where she teaches South African, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and English Renaissance literature in the Rhodes University English Department. Her academic research is focused on South African orature and the transnational aesthetics of spoken word poetry. She is a founding member of the Cycle of Knowledge, a poetry organization consisting of students, school learners, and poets from the local community. The Cycle of Knowledge was created in 2013, and is a community engagement partnership between the Rhodes University English Department and the Writers’ Movement: a group of poets located in Joza, Grahamstown. The weekly sessions of the Cycle of Knowledge alternate between meetings on campus and in Joza, and provide a range of educational activities around writing, reading, and performing poetry. These include discussions of the work of South African and international poets, creative writing exercises, poetry ciphers and open mike sessions, editing and group feedback sessions on individual works, performances on campus, in town, and at local schools, recording poetry in video formats, collating biographies of the poets involved, and documenting the group’s activities.

Since 2006, Deborah has been a member of Aerial Publishing, a self-financing community publishing project based in Grahamstown, which received its start-up funding from the Centre for the Book in Cape Town. The committee annually calls for manuscripts of poetry and prose, mainly from Grahamstown writers, and chooses two per year to publish. Aerial Publishing edits, designs, and prints all their publications themselves, using funds raised by the sales of their books.

Deborah has published academic papers on South African literature and orature, African-American literature, South African engagements with Shakespeare, and on pedagogy in post-apartheid South Africa. Some of her poems appear in Writing From Here and Aerial.

My hope is an unfeathered thing

Enlarge poem

My hope is an unfeathered thing.
Naked as a child
learning to walk for the first time.
Naked and determined as a child
expecting to fall,

get up, and fall.
Who is afraid of the dark.
For whom tears come easy
but are just as soon forgotten.

My hope is a dog with a smile on her face,
an eager spring in each stride.
Who is expecting me home.
Always happy to see me.
No matter how long the absence.
How short the chain.
How swept and barren the yard.

My hope is a widow in an empty house,
counting each carrot and potato
before the weekly shop.
Who has taught herself to sleep alone
amid muttering shadows.
Who expects nothing but what will come
from her own unbowed strength.
Yet is prepared to be surprised.

My hope is an unfeathered thing.
It does not soar,
it digs.
It has soil under each fingernail,
anchored to the possibility of miracles in the dark.
The burst seed, the single tap root.

The stress, the strain.
The ache and pain.
The setback and gain.
The drought, the rain.
The wax and wane.

The here-we-go-again.
The trying to sustain.
An audacious claim.
That is a push toward the light.

My hope is unfeathered.
Its hands weathered.
Soul tethered.
Rhyme unmeasured.

But sometimes it is pleasured
With the collapse of syllable
into the music of chance.
A care so free
it plays like dance.
An incandescent rapture,
or brief insouciance.

Will you join me?

My hope is an unfeathered thing.
It does not soar,
it digs.

Featured Poem:

We Are Mostly Water

Enlarge poem

They are telling tales of you in Spanish
on both sides of the Atlantic.
On Facebook you have written up a small legend
of your time in Buenos Aires.
Your tattoo, the tango championships,
your appearance on Rock & Pop FM.
A ring for every finger in the street markets.
Strolling under the gaze of the pink house of parliament,
its rose-coloured colonnades once tinted with the blood of an ox.

In Grahamstown the taps went dry for four entire days.
The townsfolk were dirty and mad.
The police brought helmets, shields, and a water cannon
to the protest.
In the crowd, one woman suggested inciting a riot,
just to get a shot at the water.

Each day there is only air in the pipes.
How strange, that the absence of water
should sound so like an ocean.
The suck and hiss on a line
as the phone connects across acres of sea.

At dawn I carry buckets from the rain tank.
Warm three large pots on the stove,
squat in the bath like a frog,
and toss them, methodically, over my head.
Wet.
Soap.
Rinse.

My life has made me an artist of bucket baths.
Of making the most of very little.
But how I curse the brevity of connection
when all the modest pots of it are done.

As I turn again from chopping board
to empty tap to rinse my hands,
I think of reaching for yours.
And ponder how it is that water is like love.

We are drenched in it. Steeped.
We play with it, waste it.
An outage brings a reckoning with need.
How deep and vast and recurrent it is.

I know, I know, even now we are connected,
an ocean holds our continents in the crook of each arm.
But I am listening for water in the pipes.
I want to hear the sound of it
gurgling closer to home.

I want to bathe again,
to wallow and luxuriate,
run its little rivulets into all the hollow places,
connect with every inch of my skin.

From my crown top
down
to each
of my
toes.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

My hope is an unfeathered thing

Enlarge poem

My hope is an unfeathered thing.
Naked as a child
learning to walk for the first time.
Naked and determined as a child
expecting to fall,

get up, and fall.
Who is afraid of the dark.
For whom tears come easy
but are just as soon forgotten.

My hope is a dog with a smile on her face,
an eager spring in each stride.
Who is expecting me home.
Always happy to see me.
No matter how long the absence.
How short the chain.
How swept and barren the yard.

My hope is a widow in an empty house,
counting each carrot and potato
before the weekly shop.
Who has taught herself to sleep alone
amid muttering shadows.
Who expects nothing but what will come
from her own unbowed strength.
Yet is prepared to be surprised.

My hope is an unfeathered thing.
It does not soar,
it digs.
It has soil under each fingernail,
anchored to the possibility of miracles in the dark.
The burst seed, the single tap root.

The stress, the strain.
The ache and pain.
The setback and gain.
The drought, the rain.
The wax and wane.

The here-we-go-again.
The trying to sustain.
An audacious claim.
That is a push toward the light.

My hope is unfeathered.
Its hands weathered.
Soul tethered.
Rhyme unmeasured.

But sometimes it is pleasured
With the collapse of syllable
into the music of chance.
A care so free
it plays like dance.
An incandescent rapture,
or brief insouciance.

Will you join me?

My hope is an unfeathered thing.
It does not soar,
it digs.

Comments

  1. beautiful … the wonderfully woven, time textured, intimately expressed, richly read , “We Are Mostly Water,”-in Debbie’s resonantly lovely voice.
    Thank you.

    lesley nott manim

Your email address will not be published.