Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Tin roof

Enlarge poem

Autumn works away like a carpenter
dismantling the promises of spring –

our shelters brought so slowly down
it’s hard to recollect when each wall

fell, foretell when each corrupt plank
will crumble. Too lush a green

is the colour that warps away
from the grass to leave a yellow

dull as urine from a spiteful god,
but a reference we are used to.

To go on living, here, requires a house,
a cat, and an expectation at least

about a future where the eggs
can poach, the cat heave its body

with a thump through the small door
that human hands have sawn for it;

requires a house, preferably of stone,
squatting its grey toad weight on the land

and refusing to budge for anyone.
Such houses are no longer built.

All that remains is a sky
migrating birds fly up towards

like wrenched out nails, a moon
that bristles with convulsions of cloud

too scrawny to bring more rain
– the dry centre of our hearts laid bare –

and stars dipping nearer to a horizon
over which they will soon loiter.

Cold batters on each face exposed
with all of its bleak hammers:

there’s just no way to smile left
but to keep squinting upwards like a fool

even as our doors unhinge, eyes
turn to mirrors of broken glass.

The only way to keep warm now
is to build a dwelling out of the air,

draw invisible blankets to your chin,
painstakingly think a home around you.

Mine will have already open doors
too many rooms in case of children

I’ll call high windows into being
to watch the sky plait a million blues

and a family room for everyone
who may choose to be related.

I’ll put a tin roof on my dreams
for any young tom with stentorian boots

that’s silly enough for love. Even though
the cupboards open to echo

people who pass by will stop amazed
that such a house can take its shape

though never, I know, in envy.
So now I’ve no recourse but to live.

This is the house my hunger built:
the pain stays where you want it.

Kelwyn Sole

Featured Poem:

Breaking Bread

Enlarge poem

By a simple madness I am
marked out by a thought of love

tucked tight into my armpit
hard and wizened as stale bread

secreted too deeply to be shown.

But there is no one but you.
I walk around regardless of the self

I thought I was, and my past
shucks off easily as clothes.

I am a yes without a comma

who, marked down for love,
stands here in front of you.

Hunger and solicitude: love
has no other dictionary.

And what else can my words be?

Your smile recalls my power.
Your words provoke my silence.

And all that has happened
still means to happen: your face.

Now I stand in front of you. Eat me.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

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Biography

Kelwyn Sole grew up in Johannesburg and has degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand and the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London. He has published widely in local and international books and journals, mainly on issues pertaining to South African and postcolonial literature and culture, as well as being involved in published debates and polemics. He has also published six individual collections of poetry. He has won the Olive Schreiner Prize, the Sydney Clouts Prize and the Thomas Pringle Award for poetry, and was a runner-up for the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. He has won the AA Mutual Life/Vita Award and the Thomas Pringle Award for his critical work.

Books:

The Blood of Our Silence (Johannesburg, Ravan, 1988)
Projections in the Past Tense (Johannesburg, Ravan, 1992)
Love That is Night  (Durban, Gecko Books, 1998)
Mirror and Water Gazing  (Pietermaritzburg, Gecko/University of Natal Press, 2001)
Land dreaming: prose poems (Pietermaritzburg, University of Kwazulu-Natal Press, 2006
Absent Tongues (Cape Town, Hands-On Books, 2012)

Kelwyn Sole

Biography

Kelwyn Sole grew up in Johannesburg and has degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand and the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London. He has published widely in local and international books and journals, mainly on issues pertaining to South African and postcolonial literature and culture, as well as being involved in published debates and polemics. He has also published six individual collections of poetry. He has won the Olive Schreiner Prize, the Sydney Clouts Prize and the Thomas Pringle Award for poetry, and was a runner-up for the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. He has won the AA Mutual Life/Vita Award and the Thomas Pringle Award for his critical work.

Books:

The Blood of Our Silence (Johannesburg, Ravan, 1988)
Projections in the Past Tense (Johannesburg, Ravan, 1992)
Love That is Night  (Durban, Gecko Books, 1998)
Mirror and Water Gazing  (Pietermaritzburg, Gecko/University of Natal Press, 2001)
Land dreaming: prose poems (Pietermaritzburg, University of Kwazulu-Natal Press, 2006
Absent Tongues (Cape Town, Hands-On Books, 2012)

Tin roof

Enlarge poem

Autumn works away like a carpenter
dismantling the promises of spring –

our shelters brought so slowly down
it’s hard to recollect when each wall

fell, foretell when each corrupt plank
will crumble. Too lush a green

is the colour that warps away
from the grass to leave a yellow

dull as urine from a spiteful god,
but a reference we are used to.

To go on living, here, requires a house,
a cat, and an expectation at least

about a future where the eggs
can poach, the cat heave its body

with a thump through the small door
that human hands have sawn for it;

requires a house, preferably of stone,
squatting its grey toad weight on the land

and refusing to budge for anyone.
Such houses are no longer built.

All that remains is a sky
migrating birds fly up towards

like wrenched out nails, a moon
that bristles with convulsions of cloud

too scrawny to bring more rain
– the dry centre of our hearts laid bare –

and stars dipping nearer to a horizon
over which they will soon loiter.

Cold batters on each face exposed
with all of its bleak hammers:

there’s just no way to smile left
but to keep squinting upwards like a fool

even as our doors unhinge, eyes
turn to mirrors of broken glass.

The only way to keep warm now
is to build a dwelling out of the air,

draw invisible blankets to your chin,
painstakingly think a home around you.

Mine will have already open doors
too many rooms in case of children

I’ll call high windows into being
to watch the sky plait a million blues

and a family room for everyone
who may choose to be related.

I’ll put a tin roof on my dreams
for any young tom with stentorian boots

that’s silly enough for love. Even though
the cupboards open to echo

people who pass by will stop amazed
that such a house can take its shape

though never, I know, in envy.
So now I’ve no recourse but to live.

This is the house my hunger built:
the pain stays where you want it.

Featured Poem:

Breaking Bread

Enlarge poem

By a simple madness I am
marked out by a thought of love

tucked tight into my armpit
hard and wizened as stale bread

secreted too deeply to be shown.

But there is no one but you.
I walk around regardless of the self

I thought I was, and my past
shucks off easily as clothes.

I am a yes without a comma

who, marked down for love,
stands here in front of you.

Hunger and solicitude: love
has no other dictionary.

And what else can my words be?

Your smile recalls my power.
Your words provoke my silence.

And all that has happened
still means to happen: your face.

Now I stand in front of you. Eat me.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

Tin roof

Enlarge poem

Autumn works away like a carpenter
dismantling the promises of spring –

our shelters brought so slowly down
it’s hard to recollect when each wall

fell, foretell when each corrupt plank
will crumble. Too lush a green

is the colour that warps away
from the grass to leave a yellow

dull as urine from a spiteful god,
but a reference we are used to.

To go on living, here, requires a house,
a cat, and an expectation at least

about a future where the eggs
can poach, the cat heave its body

with a thump through the small door
that human hands have sawn for it;

requires a house, preferably of stone,
squatting its grey toad weight on the land

and refusing to budge for anyone.
Such houses are no longer built.

All that remains is a sky
migrating birds fly up towards

like wrenched out nails, a moon
that bristles with convulsions of cloud

too scrawny to bring more rain
– the dry centre of our hearts laid bare –

and stars dipping nearer to a horizon
over which they will soon loiter.

Cold batters on each face exposed
with all of its bleak hammers:

there’s just no way to smile left
but to keep squinting upwards like a fool

even as our doors unhinge, eyes
turn to mirrors of broken glass.

The only way to keep warm now
is to build a dwelling out of the air,

draw invisible blankets to your chin,
painstakingly think a home around you.

Mine will have already open doors
too many rooms in case of children

I’ll call high windows into being
to watch the sky plait a million blues

and a family room for everyone
who may choose to be related.

I’ll put a tin roof on my dreams
for any young tom with stentorian boots

that’s silly enough for love. Even though
the cupboards open to echo

people who pass by will stop amazed
that such a house can take its shape

though never, I know, in envy.
So now I’ve no recourse but to live.

This is the house my hunger built:
the pain stays where you want it.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.