Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

IZIBONGO OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS

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“They have been through fire and steel, they have conversed with stones”
– Yannis Ritsos: Romkiosyne

Our shouts are peaks in a range of voices;
Our hands shape power in streets of strength;
Our comrades are a million men and women.

For twenty-six years they lived
entombed alive.
They conversed with stones
and the chains that shackled them
shackled forty million of us.
They walked through the furnace,
they measured distance by roadblock,
and time by section twenty-nine.

their names: comrade organizer, comrade delegate, comrade rank and file.
their address: here. somewhere. Pollsmoor. Victor Verster.
their meals: tension & cigarettes
their personal lives: minutes between committees & agenda
their love-making: under matters arising
their destiny: death
– and our liberation.

Keith Gottschalk

Featured Poem:

Full Moon / Space Shuttle

Enlarge poem

FULL MOON

through a missing slat in the blind
a friendly moonbeam
plays across my lover’s breasts

i follow its example

SPACE SHUTTLE

these are the laws of physics
immutable as those of Medes & Persians:

you, frailness of flesh & skin
wrapped in only blueprints & hope
to plunge through furnace of plasma
burning, blasted, luminous beyond mach-molten:
torn molecules, pink & purple,
cremating you as sati to the sky.

if all goes well, you shall fly
as a butterfly bolted to a bullet.
if not, your only grave shall be
Schlieren lines across a shocked sky.

to strangers,
your death shall be as beautiful as fireworks.
but to those who knew you:
grief.

they vanished
became sky:
a rain of metal tears
upon the land.

breaking,
that contrail became cenotaph:
a wreath we laid
on our voyage to worlds.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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Biography

Keith Gottschalk published his collection of prison & other protest poems, Emergency Poems, in 1992. He served on the executive of the Congress of South Africa Writers, COSAW, in the 1980s, and today hosts the Lansdowne Local Writers’ Group. He has performed and published over 160 poems, the latter in many magazines.

A Fulbright scholar, Keith lectures in Political Studies at the University of the Western Cape.

Keith Gottschalk

Biography

Keith Gottschalk published his collection of prison & other protest poems, Emergency Poems, in 1992. He served on the executive of the Congress of South Africa Writers, COSAW, in the 1980s, and today hosts the Lansdowne Local Writers’ Group. He has performed and published over 160 poems, the latter in many magazines.

A Fulbright scholar, Keith lectures in Political Studies at the University of the Western Cape.

IZIBONGO OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS

Enlarge poem

“They have been through fire and steel, they have conversed with stones”
– Yannis Ritsos: Romkiosyne

Our shouts are peaks in a range of voices;
Our hands shape power in streets of strength;
Our comrades are a million men and women.

For twenty-six years they lived
entombed alive.
They conversed with stones
and the chains that shackled them
shackled forty million of us.
They walked through the furnace,
they measured distance by roadblock,
and time by section twenty-nine.

their names: comrade organizer, comrade delegate, comrade rank and file.
their address: here. somewhere. Pollsmoor. Victor Verster.
their meals: tension & cigarettes
their personal lives: minutes between committees & agenda
their love-making: under matters arising
their destiny: death
– and our liberation.

Featured Poem:

Full Moon / Space Shuttle

Enlarge poem

FULL MOON

through a missing slat in the blind
a friendly moonbeam
plays across my lover’s breasts

i follow its example

SPACE SHUTTLE

these are the laws of physics
immutable as those of Medes & Persians:

you, frailness of flesh & skin
wrapped in only blueprints & hope
to plunge through furnace of plasma
burning, blasted, luminous beyond mach-molten:
torn molecules, pink & purple,
cremating you as sati to the sky.

if all goes well, you shall fly
as a butterfly bolted to a bullet.
if not, your only grave shall be
Schlieren lines across a shocked sky.

to strangers,
your death shall be as beautiful as fireworks.
but to those who knew you:
grief.

they vanished
became sky:
a rain of metal tears
upon the land.

breaking,
that contrail became cenotaph:
a wreath we laid
on our voyage to worlds.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

IZIBONGO OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS

Enlarge poem

“They have been through fire and steel, they have conversed with stones”
– Yannis Ritsos: Romkiosyne

Our shouts are peaks in a range of voices;
Our hands shape power in streets of strength;
Our comrades are a million men and women.

For twenty-six years they lived
entombed alive.
They conversed with stones
and the chains that shackled them
shackled forty million of us.
They walked through the furnace,
they measured distance by roadblock,
and time by section twenty-nine.

their names: comrade organizer, comrade delegate, comrade rank and file.
their address: here. somewhere. Pollsmoor. Victor Verster.
their meals: tension & cigarettes
their personal lives: minutes between committees & agenda
their love-making: under matters arising
their destiny: death
– and our liberation.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.