Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

John Eppel

Featured Poem:

Christmas in Bulawayo & A SUBURBAN NIGHT IN AUGUST

Enlarge poem

A SUBURBAN NIGHT IN AUGUST
The distant all-night drum, a dripping tap,
a scops owl mimicking the creak of sap
rising. Dombeyas cream the bushy verge,
a tilted Southern Cross returns the surge
of hope in every second Hillside house.

The world is waiting, trembling like a mouse
as you, unconscious of the cricket’s rasp,
in warm socks and striped pyjamas, unclasp
your hair, give it a tousle, set it free,
smiling at him the way you smiled at me.

CHRISTMAS IN BULAWAYO
A hallelujah of Heuglin’s robins
wakes me from a troubled sleep, troubled not
by regrets or misgivings but by hymns,
hymns of mosquitoes, high-pitched, pin-thin; prick
of crickets, strident cicadas, squirrels
bickering; and the blessing of soft rain
on a tin roof. Smell the frangipanis –
their blossoms, the milk of their bark, rotting
leaves, rotting into humus, life-giving
soil – earthworms, chongololos, flying ants;
and smell that neighbourly ham: pineapple,
cloves; basted with beer and honey: baking.

Expectant pets get meaty bones, rubber
toys, kapenta soaked in leftover soup.
Here comes the postman for his Christmas box,
here the garbage men, ZESA, WATER; queues
and queues of the homeless, the unemployed,
the downtrodden, the hungry and thirsty,
the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek,
the merciful, the peacemakers, the pure
in heart, the righteous; for theirs is the love
of a Jewish man who was sacrificed
so we may celebrate his birth, and so
we may learn that death makes life beautiful.

John _ BADILISHA

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Biography

John Eppel, born in 1947, is an English teacher in Bulawayo. He published his first poems in the 1960s, in Two Tone, and his first collection, Spoils of War, in 1989. John won the Ingrid Jonker Prize for Poetry for Spoils of War, and the M-Net prize for his first novel, D G G Berry’s The Great North Road. His second novel, Hatchings, was chosen for the series in the Times Literary Supplement of the most significant books to have come out of Africa. His other novels are The Giraffe Man, The Curse of the Ripe Tomato, The Holy Innocents, Absent: The English Teacher, Traffickings and The Boy Who Loved Camping.

John’s other poetry collections are Sonata for Matabeleland, Selected Poems: 1965-1995 and Songs My Country Taught Me. Two collections of his poetry and short stories have been published: The Caruso of Colleen Bawn and White Man Crawling.
Poems and short stories of Eppel’s have appeared online and in many anthologies and journals, and his recent collaborations with other writers include Together, with Julius Chingono, Hewn from the Rock, with Philani A Nyoni, and Textures, with Togara Muzanenhamo.

John Eppel

John _ BADILISHA
John _ BADILISHA

Biography

John Eppel, born in 1947, is an English teacher in Bulawayo. He published his first poems in the 1960s, in Two Tone, and his first collection, Spoils of War, in 1989. John won the Ingrid Jonker Prize for Poetry for Spoils of War, and the M-Net prize for his first novel, D G G Berry’s The Great North Road. His second novel, Hatchings, was chosen for the series in the Times Literary Supplement of the most significant books to have come out of Africa. His other novels are The Giraffe Man, The Curse of the Ripe Tomato, The Holy Innocents, Absent: The English Teacher, Traffickings and The Boy Who Loved Camping.

John’s other poetry collections are Sonata for Matabeleland, Selected Poems: 1965-1995 and Songs My Country Taught Me. Two collections of his poetry and short stories have been published: The Caruso of Colleen Bawn and White Man Crawling.
Poems and short stories of Eppel’s have appeared online and in many anthologies and journals, and his recent collaborations with other writers include Together, with Julius Chingono, Hewn from the Rock, with Philani A Nyoni, and Textures, with Togara Muzanenhamo.

Featured Poem:

Christmas in Bulawayo & A SUBURBAN NIGHT IN AUGUST

Enlarge poem

A SUBURBAN NIGHT IN AUGUST
The distant all-night drum, a dripping tap,
a scops owl mimicking the creak of sap
rising. Dombeyas cream the bushy verge,
a tilted Southern Cross returns the surge
of hope in every second Hillside house.

The world is waiting, trembling like a mouse
as you, unconscious of the cricket’s rasp,
in warm socks and striped pyjamas, unclasp
your hair, give it a tousle, set it free,
smiling at him the way you smiled at me.

CHRISTMAS IN BULAWAYO
A hallelujah of Heuglin’s robins
wakes me from a troubled sleep, troubled not
by regrets or misgivings but by hymns,
hymns of mosquitoes, high-pitched, pin-thin; prick
of crickets, strident cicadas, squirrels
bickering; and the blessing of soft rain
on a tin roof. Smell the frangipanis –
their blossoms, the milk of their bark, rotting
leaves, rotting into humus, life-giving
soil – earthworms, chongololos, flying ants;
and smell that neighbourly ham: pineapple,
cloves; basted with beer and honey: baking.

Expectant pets get meaty bones, rubber
toys, kapenta soaked in leftover soup.
Here comes the postman for his Christmas box,
here the garbage men, ZESA, WATER; queues
and queues of the homeless, the unemployed,
the downtrodden, the hungry and thirsty,
the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek,
the merciful, the peacemakers, the pure
in heart, the righteous; for theirs is the love
of a Jewish man who was sacrificed
so we may celebrate his birth, and so
we may learn that death makes life beautiful.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

Comments

Your email address will not be published.