Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

The Feast

Enlarge poem

I have laid the round table
and set the seven-bit candle stick, centre-piece.
the hour is late. the chairs stand empty.
the invited guests have not come
nor sent regrets.

I go into the streets of the old town.
searching for discarded selves,
calling them by name.
the one in the ivory academy,
sawn-off from heart.
the one huddling in the alley
where whores hang their red lights.
the one whose face shows sea calm
while the ocean churns in his gut.
the one who sips jokes from a tap
and does not divine laughter from the well.
the one wandering the dry river bed
his tears sucked by the sun.

the boy who stood at his father’s grave
and wrote his first poem
and who in middle years
sat beside his mother’s body.

I embrace them one by one,
breast bone to breast bone
and I say
The table waits. the candles are lit.
drums strike the coming of the groom.
the festival begins
come and dine.

Dorian Haarhoff

Featured Poem:

Dry Earth Namibia Trilogy

Enlarge poem

Namibia

wild west land
holster in the hip of Africa
strung on the studded belt of Capricorn.

the sun lassoos the rain
tugged from the bare backed land
the rocks crack in pistol shots.

yet on a sparse frontier
crossed freely, are
the cattle of the heart.

Dry Prophecy

it is the time of prophets now
with their rumbling voices.
the land breeds them thick
as camelthorns, these old ones.
their skin crusted like dams,
they watch the first jacaranda buds
purple the lip of the tree.

weather legs chronicle the cold
rising from September ground.
they follow the butterfly
flying on snow wings, to light
their raindrop shapes on petals.

they tap their sticks in exclamation.
the butterflies did so ten years ago,
remember that great wetting,
when the heavens rinsed the desert
and cars, camping in river beds,
were flung into the upper tree reaches
in the freak floods that filled the papers.

they watch with lightning eyes
as the dirt whirlpool
flings its fine sand into faces.
they point to the ant colonies,
to the lone songololo scurrying.

in a rattle and creak of bones
the sky diviners clear their throats
and spit the first drops into the dust.
in tongues sure as thunder
they divine a season of good storm.

Old Woman Brewing

in war days she moved
as heady matriarch
on powder plains,
under an airforce sky.
she mapped her way
among the trees
her grandson climbed for her
to shake the seed
for her windswept shebeen.
when war evaporated like rain,
she soaked the camouflage fruit
of the makalani palm
and funneled steam through stem,
decanting from clay pots
into old containers,
discarded by the army.
still she sits in roadside sun
fermenting in sweat,
and brews red-berried beer.
the illegal glint in her eye
shines like bottled fire.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

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Biography

Dorian Haarhoff (1944- ) a South African/Namibian poet, facilitates creative writing, and story-telling wordshops and acts as a one-on-one writing mentor. In a past life, a Professor of English Literature (Namibia), Dorian now tinkers his trade in the street markets of the world. Mythology, creation spirituality, whole brain theory, the new Physics, narrative therapy, Ubuntu, Eco and Jungian psychology and the poetic tradition influence his writing and work.

Passionate about developing innate creativity and imagination, he believes in the power of poetry to create new realities. He has been participating poet at Poetry Africa, SA and at the International Poetry Festival in Colombia, South America.

Selected publications:

Creative Writing teaching text

The Writer’s Voice: A Workbook for Writers in Africa (Zebra Press, Johannesburg 1998.)

Poetry:

Wrist and Rib (own publication, Cape Town, 1978.)

Stickman (own publication, Windhoek, 1981.)

Bordering (Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1991.)

Aquifers and Dust (Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1994.)

Tortoise Voices (Mercer, Cape Town, 2002.)

Drawing Water (Leopard Press, Durban, 2007.)

Poemegranites (Leopard Press, Durban, 2012.)

Editing of Poetry (Student Writing)

The Writers Eye: Namibian Poetry in Process (ed. D. Haarhoff, Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 1997.)

Drama Scripts:

Goats, Oranges and Skeletons (ed. T. Zeeman, Gamsberg Macmillan, Windhoek, 2002.)

The Missing Namibian, SAMP – (Swedish African Museum Project) performed in Sweden and Namibia , 1996 (unpublished.)

Children’s Stories/ Drama:

Desert December (Songololo, Cape Town, 1991, Clarion, New York, 1992 and Pan Macmillan, U.K., 1993.)

Water from the Rock (New Namibia Books, Windhoek, 1992.)

Legs, Bones and Eyes (New Namibia Books, Windhoek 1994, Puffin, 1996.)

Guano Girl (Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1994.)

Space Racer, graded reader (Kagiso, Cape Town, 1996.)

Grandfather’s Enoch’s Pipe, graded reader (Gamsberg Macmillan, Windhoek, 2002.)

The Water Diviner, short list top 3 African Baobab competition 2011

Alice in Welwitschialand (Environmental Play) Performed 1992, 1993 and 1994 NTN (National Theatre Namibia) and Grahamstown Festival. (unpublished)

The Colour of Water, Children’s Radio Drama Serial. Namibian B C, 1993.

Dorian Haarhoff

Biography

Dorian Haarhoff (1944- ) a South African/Namibian poet, facilitates creative writing, and story-telling wordshops and acts as a one-on-one writing mentor. In a past life, a Professor of English Literature (Namibia), Dorian now tinkers his trade in the street markets of the world. Mythology, creation spirituality, whole brain theory, the new Physics, narrative therapy, Ubuntu, Eco and Jungian psychology and the poetic tradition influence his writing and work.

Passionate about developing innate creativity and imagination, he believes in the power of poetry to create new realities. He has been participating poet at Poetry Africa, SA and at the International Poetry Festival in Colombia, South America.

Selected publications:

Creative Writing teaching text

The Writer’s Voice: A Workbook for Writers in Africa (Zebra Press, Johannesburg 1998.)

Poetry:

Wrist and Rib (own publication, Cape Town, 1978.)

Stickman (own publication, Windhoek, 1981.)

Bordering (Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1991.)

Aquifers and Dust (Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1994.)

Tortoise Voices (Mercer, Cape Town, 2002.)

Drawing Water (Leopard Press, Durban, 2007.)

Poemegranites (Leopard Press, Durban, 2012.)

Editing of Poetry (Student Writing)

The Writers Eye: Namibian Poetry in Process (ed. D. Haarhoff, Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 1997.)

Drama Scripts:

Goats, Oranges and Skeletons (ed. T. Zeeman, Gamsberg Macmillan, Windhoek, 2002.)

The Missing Namibian, SAMP – (Swedish African Museum Project) performed in Sweden and Namibia , 1996 (unpublished.)

Children’s Stories/ Drama:

Desert December (Songololo, Cape Town, 1991, Clarion, New York, 1992 and Pan Macmillan, U.K., 1993.)

Water from the Rock (New Namibia Books, Windhoek, 1992.)

Legs, Bones and Eyes (New Namibia Books, Windhoek 1994, Puffin, 1996.)

Guano Girl (Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1994.)

Space Racer, graded reader (Kagiso, Cape Town, 1996.)

Grandfather’s Enoch’s Pipe, graded reader (Gamsberg Macmillan, Windhoek, 2002.)

The Water Diviner, short list top 3 African Baobab competition 2011

Alice in Welwitschialand (Environmental Play) Performed 1992, 1993 and 1994 NTN (National Theatre Namibia) and Grahamstown Festival. (unpublished)

The Colour of Water, Children’s Radio Drama Serial. Namibian B C, 1993.

The Feast

Enlarge poem

I have laid the round table
and set the seven-bit candle stick, centre-piece.
the hour is late. the chairs stand empty.
the invited guests have not come
nor sent regrets.

I go into the streets of the old town.
searching for discarded selves,
calling them by name.
the one in the ivory academy,
sawn-off from heart.
the one huddling in the alley
where whores hang their red lights.
the one whose face shows sea calm
while the ocean churns in his gut.
the one who sips jokes from a tap
and does not divine laughter from the well.
the one wandering the dry river bed
his tears sucked by the sun.

the boy who stood at his father’s grave
and wrote his first poem
and who in middle years
sat beside his mother’s body.

I embrace them one by one,
breast bone to breast bone
and I say
The table waits. the candles are lit.
drums strike the coming of the groom.
the festival begins
come and dine.

Featured Poem:

Dry Earth Namibia Trilogy

Enlarge poem

Namibia

wild west land
holster in the hip of Africa
strung on the studded belt of Capricorn.

the sun lassoos the rain
tugged from the bare backed land
the rocks crack in pistol shots.

yet on a sparse frontier
crossed freely, are
the cattle of the heart.

Dry Prophecy

it is the time of prophets now
with their rumbling voices.
the land breeds them thick
as camelthorns, these old ones.
their skin crusted like dams,
they watch the first jacaranda buds
purple the lip of the tree.

weather legs chronicle the cold
rising from September ground.
they follow the butterfly
flying on snow wings, to light
their raindrop shapes on petals.

they tap their sticks in exclamation.
the butterflies did so ten years ago,
remember that great wetting,
when the heavens rinsed the desert
and cars, camping in river beds,
were flung into the upper tree reaches
in the freak floods that filled the papers.

they watch with lightning eyes
as the dirt whirlpool
flings its fine sand into faces.
they point to the ant colonies,
to the lone songololo scurrying.

in a rattle and creak of bones
the sky diviners clear their throats
and spit the first drops into the dust.
in tongues sure as thunder
they divine a season of good storm.

Old Woman Brewing

in war days she moved
as heady matriarch
on powder plains,
under an airforce sky.
she mapped her way
among the trees
her grandson climbed for her
to shake the seed
for her windswept shebeen.
when war evaporated like rain,
she soaked the camouflage fruit
of the makalani palm
and funneled steam through stem,
decanting from clay pots
into old containers,
discarded by the army.
still she sits in roadside sun
fermenting in sweat,
and brews red-berried beer.
the illegal glint in her eye
shines like bottled fire.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

The Feast

Enlarge poem

I have laid the round table
and set the seven-bit candle stick, centre-piece.
the hour is late. the chairs stand empty.
the invited guests have not come
nor sent regrets.

I go into the streets of the old town.
searching for discarded selves,
calling them by name.
the one in the ivory academy,
sawn-off from heart.
the one huddling in the alley
where whores hang their red lights.
the one whose face shows sea calm
while the ocean churns in his gut.
the one who sips jokes from a tap
and does not divine laughter from the well.
the one wandering the dry river bed
his tears sucked by the sun.

the boy who stood at his father’s grave
and wrote his first poem
and who in middle years
sat beside his mother’s body.

I embrace them one by one,
breast bone to breast bone
and I say
The table waits. the candles are lit.
drums strike the coming of the groom.
the festival begins
come and dine.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.