Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Mermaid song

Enlarge poem

It’s a different element: turbid, electric, saline.
You have to prove your fins
before we can let you in.

A toe to the water is not an option;
there is only full immersion,
scraping away the scales until you’re just
the pulse of raw meat baptised in brine.

It’s a red tide, a lick of phototactic tongue ebbing,
or a mermaid disappearing into her gills,
depending.

This place aches and aches and aches its fluorescent beat.
You have to prove your fins
before we can let you in.

Haidee Kruger

Featured Poem:

Writer / The reckless sleeper

Enlarge poem

Writer

I keep my tools
hidden,
until the sun rasps
its black breath over
the suburbs. Only then

do I edge from
my demure murmuring disguise,
carrying my pen like
an axe,
waiting in the underbrush for
the first bloodwarm faces
to appear. I like

to slaughter the meat out
of them, to space
their soft stomachs across
the page, to stretch
their sinews into
stems and curves,

or else
to pull their wet skins tight,
nailing them down around
the white silences
squirming. I never

wash my hands
after – the whimpers dry
to innocent ink under
my nails. And besides,

I keep my tools
hidden.

The reckless sleeper

Time,
I thought.
Coffeed & inked. Light scarred against mirrors while she practised the world on paper. Kafka crumbling against the comfort of spoons, scarves, skin.
Time,
I thought.
Desire watercoloured, worn like a locket. Who dares not to speak?
Not to run like a child after a blue pigeon? Not to offer the mouth for eating,
not to follow? Who dares not to? Step in, fall through. Kissing crows and candles. Again.
Time,
I thought.
And Leonard wept as she chose the colours of this place:
rhubarb, tea stains, ginger, asphalt, biscuit, scissors, guinness, tongue, memory, bone, canvas, railway, wax, egg, fire.
Time,
I thought.
A reckless sleeper. A puzzle of objects, a guarding blanket. The horror of a blue ribbon. The hollowness of hats. Something to touch.
Time,
I thought.
Walking through revolving doors.

The Tate Modern/Starbucks, London

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Biography

Haidee Kruger is associate professor in the School of Languages at the Vaal Triangle Campus of North-West University in South Africa. She holds a PhD in translation studies, and is primarily involved in research in descriptive and theoretical translation studies. Her most recent research publication is Postcolonial polysystems: The production and reception of translated children’s literature in South Africa (John Benjamins, 2012).

Her poetry and short stories have been published in, amongst others, The Common, Big Bridge, New Contrast, New Coin and Green Dragon. Her debut collection of poetry, Lush: poems for four voices, was published in 2007 by Protea Book House. Lush was praised in the judges statement for the 2006/2007 Ingrid Jonker Prize as an “innovative volume of poems” that was “a close contender for the prize”. The reckless sleeper (Modjaji Books, 2012) is her second collection.

Kruger lives in Vereeniging, South Africa, with her husband and three children.

Haidee Kruger

Biography

Haidee Kruger is associate professor in the School of Languages at the Vaal Triangle Campus of North-West University in South Africa. She holds a PhD in translation studies, and is primarily involved in research in descriptive and theoretical translation studies. Her most recent research publication is Postcolonial polysystems: The production and reception of translated children’s literature in South Africa (John Benjamins, 2012).

Her poetry and short stories have been published in, amongst others, The Common, Big Bridge, New Contrast, New Coin and Green Dragon. Her debut collection of poetry, Lush: poems for four voices, was published in 2007 by Protea Book House. Lush was praised in the judges statement for the 2006/2007 Ingrid Jonker Prize as an “innovative volume of poems” that was “a close contender for the prize”. The reckless sleeper (Modjaji Books, 2012) is her second collection.

Kruger lives in Vereeniging, South Africa, with her husband and three children.

Mermaid song

Enlarge poem

It’s a different element: turbid, electric, saline.
You have to prove your fins
before we can let you in.

A toe to the water is not an option;
there is only full immersion,
scraping away the scales until you’re just
the pulse of raw meat baptised in brine.

It’s a red tide, a lick of phototactic tongue ebbing,
or a mermaid disappearing into her gills,
depending.

This place aches and aches and aches its fluorescent beat.
You have to prove your fins
before we can let you in.

Featured Poem:

Writer / The reckless sleeper

Enlarge poem

Writer

I keep my tools
hidden,
until the sun rasps
its black breath over
the suburbs. Only then

do I edge from
my demure murmuring disguise,
carrying my pen like
an axe,
waiting in the underbrush for
the first bloodwarm faces
to appear. I like

to slaughter the meat out
of them, to space
their soft stomachs across
the page, to stretch
their sinews into
stems and curves,

or else
to pull their wet skins tight,
nailing them down around
the white silences
squirming. I never

wash my hands
after – the whimpers dry
to innocent ink under
my nails. And besides,

I keep my tools
hidden.

The reckless sleeper

Time,
I thought.
Coffeed & inked. Light scarred against mirrors while she practised the world on paper. Kafka crumbling against the comfort of spoons, scarves, skin.
Time,
I thought.
Desire watercoloured, worn like a locket. Who dares not to speak?
Not to run like a child after a blue pigeon? Not to offer the mouth for eating,
not to follow? Who dares not to? Step in, fall through. Kissing crows and candles. Again.
Time,
I thought.
And Leonard wept as she chose the colours of this place:
rhubarb, tea stains, ginger, asphalt, biscuit, scissors, guinness, tongue, memory, bone, canvas, railway, wax, egg, fire.
Time,
I thought.
A reckless sleeper. A puzzle of objects, a guarding blanket. The horror of a blue ribbon. The hollowness of hats. Something to touch.
Time,
I thought.
Walking through revolving doors.

The Tate Modern/Starbucks, London

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

Mermaid song

Enlarge poem

It’s a different element: turbid, electric, saline.
You have to prove your fins
before we can let you in.

A toe to the water is not an option;
there is only full immersion,
scraping away the scales until you’re just
the pulse of raw meat baptised in brine.

It’s a red tide, a lick of phototactic tongue ebbing,
or a mermaid disappearing into her gills,
depending.

This place aches and aches and aches its fluorescent beat.
You have to prove your fins
before we can let you in.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.