Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Kobus Moolman

Featured Poem:

Ambition / Survival / The Foot

Enlarge poem

Ambition

Yesterday he could easily still believe
that getting to the top really amounted to something.
That if he had a goal, he would ultimately reach it.

Today he woke up
and saw himself in the small mirror behind the bathroom door,
and saw the cuts under his eyes,
the holes in his hands.

And at that moment he knew
that the body is not flesh, it does not feel.
That it is made of sand instead. And it runs out.

from Light and After (deep south, 2010)

Survival

We who accept survival as our password
accept incompleteness as our blessing.
We who dress in blindness and in faith
do not know the colour of our palms
nor the weight of our feet upon the water.
We who have dust in our mouths all day
have stones on our tongues instead of songs.
We who quench fire with fire all night
know that wings are not the only ladder
to the dark, that heavy wood swims too
in the tide of the wind.
We who accept survival
accept survival as our curse.

from Light and After (deep south, 2010)

The Foot

The foot is a hole.
A stone.
A black stone.
A hole made by the stone
before the hole was made.
A hole that the stone cannot get out of,
no matter how black, and blacker still,
its skin goes –
Until its skin begins to crack, and
pieces flake off.
Chunks of rock falling into
the black hole that the foot grows
beneath its shadow.

The foot is a stone.
Underneath the stone is a hole
that spreads and shrinks and
spreads again as the wind blows.

The hole smells like words left a long time
in the crevice between two teeth.
Like words that have been closed up
too long in the dark pit of the mouth.
Sweating all night. And sleepless
in the day.

The foot is a hole made by a shard
of memory.
It walked through black mud
one morning on the edge of a brown lake,
where the birds waded deep up to their cries,
up to their blue wings.
It walked through the black mud and
into the lake.
And the water was not cold,
the foot said.
Come in, the foot said. The water is warm.
Look.
And it bent and scooped up the old skin
from off the surface of the lake and
threw it up into the air.

And the flakes of water flew.
And the flakes of water fell.
And the foot came up out of the water
and it was red.
It was red where the flakes of water
had fallen upon it and cut it –
called out to it its new name.

Its new name was loss.
And rot.

The foot remembers the brown lake
always, and longs to return
to the warm water, to the impenetrable depths,
lurking with the voices of fishes.

It remembers the brown lake
with its long waving hair and its green eyes,
and the foot wants to laugh again, loudly,
the way the long grass does.
The foot wants to laugh again.
But there is a hole.
There is the hole made by the red stone
that does not heal. Ever.
The hole that never closes over.
Even when it seems to.

I hold the foot in my hand every night,
spit onto it.
I spit into its red hole and
mix the spit with sand and honey,
and pack it full. I pack the hole full
every night, and when I go to sleep
I dream that the hole is growing a skin over it.
That a wide bridge is falling out of the sky,
and that it lands on the foot,
and that it covers the deep distance
between the edges of the red hole.

The foot pretends that it has something to say.
That the fishes in the brown lake and
the birds in the air and the stones, too,
in the black desert
want to hear what it has to say.

But to be honest,
it has all been said before.

from Light and After (deep south, 2010)

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)

Comments

  1. hey kobus good to hear the voice of my editor finally. so impressed, reminds me of distinct layers of sediment you know. cheers thandi

    thandi sliepen
  2. Thank you so much for your workshop at Stellenbosch University. It was truly inspiring… I loved how you read and how your passion radiated out through the words. Thank you for your wisdom.

    Jesse Brooks
  3. This incredible man is my lecturer and I am proud to be his student.

    He made me to fall in love with poetry.

    Londeka

Your email address will not be published.

Biography

Kobus Moolman was born in 1964 in Pietermaritzburg. He is a senior lecturer in creative writing in the Department of English at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. He holds a PhD in English Studies from UKZN.
In 2013 he received the 2013 Sol Plaatje European Union poetry award. In the same year, he was the Mellon Writer in Residence at Rhodes University for three months, and he also published his most recent poetry anthology, Left Over (Dye Hard Press). The collection has been widely acknowledged as his strongest to date.

In 2012 he was commissioned by the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State to adapt  Zakes Mda’s the novel, The Madonna of Excelsior, for the stage. The production has travelled to several theatres in the country, including the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and the State Theatre in Pretoria.

In 2010 he published Light and After (Deep South Press). The collection was launched at the 14th Poetry Africa festival in Durban. In the same year he received the South African Literary Award for Poetry for his collection, Separating the Seas. Founded by the national Ministry of Arts & Culture, the South African Literary Awards honour South African literary practitioners, while encouraging the advancement of literary heritage and practice.

In 2010 he was a special guest, for two months, of the Creative Writing Research Group of the University of Calgary in Canada. During this period he gave readings of his work and lectured, including at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He was also an invited guest at the 2010 Calgary International Spoken Word Festival, during which time he performed at the Banff Centre for the Arts and in Canmore. In the same year he edited and published, Tilling the Hard Soil: poetry, prose and art by   South African Writers with Disabilities (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press). He was also the invited dramaturge on a two-week residency for South African and Dutch scriptwriters organized by the Twist Theatre Development Project during the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. He was invited back as dramaturge in 2011 and 2013.

In 2009 one of poems was nominated for a US Pushcart Prize. At the beginning of 2008, he participated in a three-week collaborative residency at the Caversham Centre for Writers and Artists in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. During this residency he produced a limited edition, hand-bound collection of poems entitled Anatomy. This cycle of poems was later published in the Journal of Disability Studies (OhioStateUniversity). It also won the Dramatic and Literary Rights (DALRO) Prize for the best poem to appear in New Coin magazine in 2008.

A collection of his radio plays, Blind Voices, was published by Botsotso Publishers in 2007. The collection is sponsored by the British Council and features a CD of the BBC production of his earlier award-winning play, Soldier Boy.

In 2008,  he was on the panel of adjudicators for the Ingrid Jonker award, and in 2009 he was a judge for the Thomas Pringle Award for Poetry.He was the founding editor of the annual KwaZulu-Natal poetry journal, Fidelities, which ran from 1995 until 2007.  As co-ordinator of the Fidelities Poetry Project he conducted creative writing workshops and readings for a variety of interest groups, from offenders in prison to high school youth.  From 2000 to 2009 he edited the poetry titles for the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, working on collections by Karen Press, Mxolisi Nyezwa, Kelwyn Sole and Makhosazana Xaba, amongst others.

In 2007 he was also named joint winner of the 2007 NLDTF/PANSA Festival of Contemporary Theatre Readings of New Writing for his new play, Stone Angel. This is the second time he has won this major South African award for theatre writing. In the same year he was the chairperson of the selection committee for the Olive Schreiner Poetry Prize sponsored by the English Academy of Southern Africa.

In 2004 his play, Full Circle, was awarded the Jury Prize for Best Script in the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) Festival of Reading of New Writing. The play premiered at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2005, directed by Charmaine Weir-Smith, and was critically acclaimed. It was subsequently produced at the Hilton College Theatre in Pietermaritzburg and at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. The play was also produced as part of the Southern African theatre season at the Oval House Theatre in London in 2006. The script was published in 2007 by Dye Hard Press.  And in 2008 it was produced by the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

In 2004 he was commissioned by Bush Radio (Cape Town) to adapt Gomolemo Mokae’s short story, Milk and Honey Galore, for the radio.

In 2003 he was a runner-up in the BBC African Performance radio drama competition. His winning play was produced for the BBC World Service. In the same year it was also read at the Moscow Theatre Festival of New Writing. His collection, Feet of the Sky was published by Brevitas Press.
In 2001 he was one of five South African poets featured in a collection by Botsotso Publishers, entitled simply, 5 Poetry.

In 1998 he was awarded the Helen Martins Fellowship which enabled him to spend a month in the Karoo village of Nieu Bethesda working on an anthology of poetry.  This collection, entitled, Time like Stone was published by UKZN Press in 2000. The collection was awarded the Ingrid Jonker Prize for 2001, the premier South African award for a debut anthology.

In 1992 he was a finalist in the Amstel Playwright of the Year Award. He is the recipient of the BBC African Radio Theatre Award (1987), the Macmillan Southern African Playwriting Award (1991) and in 2000 he won a merit award in the Noupoort Reward for Playwriting.

Kobus Moolman

Biography

Kobus Moolman was born in 1964 in Pietermaritzburg. He is a senior lecturer in creative writing in the Department of English at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. He holds a PhD in English Studies from UKZN.
In 2013 he received the 2013 Sol Plaatje European Union poetry award. In the same year, he was the Mellon Writer in Residence at Rhodes University for three months, and he also published his most recent poetry anthology, Left Over (Dye Hard Press). The collection has been widely acknowledged as his strongest to date.

In 2012 he was commissioned by the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State to adapt  Zakes Mda’s the novel, The Madonna of Excelsior, for the stage. The production has travelled to several theatres in the country, including the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and the State Theatre in Pretoria.

In 2010 he published Light and After (Deep South Press). The collection was launched at the 14th Poetry Africa festival in Durban. In the same year he received the South African Literary Award for Poetry for his collection, Separating the Seas. Founded by the national Ministry of Arts & Culture, the South African Literary Awards honour South African literary practitioners, while encouraging the advancement of literary heritage and practice.

In 2010 he was a special guest, for two months, of the Creative Writing Research Group of the University of Calgary in Canada. During this period he gave readings of his work and lectured, including at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He was also an invited guest at the 2010 Calgary International Spoken Word Festival, during which time he performed at the Banff Centre for the Arts and in Canmore. In the same year he edited and published, Tilling the Hard Soil: poetry, prose and art by   South African Writers with Disabilities (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press). He was also the invited dramaturge on a two-week residency for South African and Dutch scriptwriters organized by the Twist Theatre Development Project during the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. He was invited back as dramaturge in 2011 and 2013.

In 2009 one of poems was nominated for a US Pushcart Prize. At the beginning of 2008, he participated in a three-week collaborative residency at the Caversham Centre for Writers and Artists in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. During this residency he produced a limited edition, hand-bound collection of poems entitled Anatomy. This cycle of poems was later published in the Journal of Disability Studies (OhioStateUniversity). It also won the Dramatic and Literary Rights (DALRO) Prize for the best poem to appear in New Coin magazine in 2008.

A collection of his radio plays, Blind Voices, was published by Botsotso Publishers in 2007. The collection is sponsored by the British Council and features a CD of the BBC production of his earlier award-winning play, Soldier Boy.

In 2008,  he was on the panel of adjudicators for the Ingrid Jonker award, and in 2009 he was a judge for the Thomas Pringle Award for Poetry.He was the founding editor of the annual KwaZulu-Natal poetry journal, Fidelities, which ran from 1995 until 2007.  As co-ordinator of the Fidelities Poetry Project he conducted creative writing workshops and readings for a variety of interest groups, from offenders in prison to high school youth.  From 2000 to 2009 he edited the poetry titles for the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, working on collections by Karen Press, Mxolisi Nyezwa, Kelwyn Sole and Makhosazana Xaba, amongst others.

In 2007 he was also named joint winner of the 2007 NLDTF/PANSA Festival of Contemporary Theatre Readings of New Writing for his new play, Stone Angel. This is the second time he has won this major South African award for theatre writing. In the same year he was the chairperson of the selection committee for the Olive Schreiner Poetry Prize sponsored by the English Academy of Southern Africa.

In 2004 his play, Full Circle, was awarded the Jury Prize for Best Script in the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) Festival of Reading of New Writing. The play premiered at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2005, directed by Charmaine Weir-Smith, and was critically acclaimed. It was subsequently produced at the Hilton College Theatre in Pietermaritzburg and at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. The play was also produced as part of the Southern African theatre season at the Oval House Theatre in London in 2006. The script was published in 2007 by Dye Hard Press.  And in 2008 it was produced by the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

In 2004 he was commissioned by Bush Radio (Cape Town) to adapt Gomolemo Mokae’s short story, Milk and Honey Galore, for the radio.

In 2003 he was a runner-up in the BBC African Performance radio drama competition. His winning play was produced for the BBC World Service. In the same year it was also read at the Moscow Theatre Festival of New Writing. His collection, Feet of the Sky was published by Brevitas Press.
In 2001 he was one of five South African poets featured in a collection by Botsotso Publishers, entitled simply, 5 Poetry.

In 1998 he was awarded the Helen Martins Fellowship which enabled him to spend a month in the Karoo village of Nieu Bethesda working on an anthology of poetry.  This collection, entitled, Time like Stone was published by UKZN Press in 2000. The collection was awarded the Ingrid Jonker Prize for 2001, the premier South African award for a debut anthology.

In 1992 he was a finalist in the Amstel Playwright of the Year Award. He is the recipient of the BBC African Radio Theatre Award (1987), the Macmillan Southern African Playwriting Award (1991) and in 2000 he won a merit award in the Noupoort Reward for Playwriting.

Featured Poem:

Ambition / Survival / The Foot

Enlarge poem

Ambition

Yesterday he could easily still believe
that getting to the top really amounted to something.
That if he had a goal, he would ultimately reach it.

Today he woke up
and saw himself in the small mirror behind the bathroom door,
and saw the cuts under his eyes,
the holes in his hands.

And at that moment he knew
that the body is not flesh, it does not feel.
That it is made of sand instead. And it runs out.

from Light and After (deep south, 2010)

Survival

We who accept survival as our password
accept incompleteness as our blessing.
We who dress in blindness and in faith
do not know the colour of our palms
nor the weight of our feet upon the water.
We who have dust in our mouths all day
have stones on our tongues instead of songs.
We who quench fire with fire all night
know that wings are not the only ladder
to the dark, that heavy wood swims too
in the tide of the wind.
We who accept survival
accept survival as our curse.

from Light and After (deep south, 2010)

The Foot

The foot is a hole.
A stone.
A black stone.
A hole made by the stone
before the hole was made.
A hole that the stone cannot get out of,
no matter how black, and blacker still,
its skin goes –
Until its skin begins to crack, and
pieces flake off.
Chunks of rock falling into
the black hole that the foot grows
beneath its shadow.

The foot is a stone.
Underneath the stone is a hole
that spreads and shrinks and
spreads again as the wind blows.

The hole smells like words left a long time
in the crevice between two teeth.
Like words that have been closed up
too long in the dark pit of the mouth.
Sweating all night. And sleepless
in the day.

The foot is a hole made by a shard
of memory.
It walked through black mud
one morning on the edge of a brown lake,
where the birds waded deep up to their cries,
up to their blue wings.
It walked through the black mud and
into the lake.
And the water was not cold,
the foot said.
Come in, the foot said. The water is warm.
Look.
And it bent and scooped up the old skin
from off the surface of the lake and
threw it up into the air.

And the flakes of water flew.
And the flakes of water fell.
And the foot came up out of the water
and it was red.
It was red where the flakes of water
had fallen upon it and cut it –
called out to it its new name.

Its new name was loss.
And rot.

The foot remembers the brown lake
always, and longs to return
to the warm water, to the impenetrable depths,
lurking with the voices of fishes.

It remembers the brown lake
with its long waving hair and its green eyes,
and the foot wants to laugh again, loudly,
the way the long grass does.
The foot wants to laugh again.
But there is a hole.
There is the hole made by the red stone
that does not heal. Ever.
The hole that never closes over.
Even when it seems to.

I hold the foot in my hand every night,
spit onto it.
I spit into its red hole and
mix the spit with sand and honey,
and pack it full. I pack the hole full
every night, and when I go to sleep
I dream that the hole is growing a skin over it.
That a wide bridge is falling out of the sky,
and that it lands on the foot,
and that it covers the deep distance
between the edges of the red hole.

The foot pretends that it has something to say.
That the fishes in the brown lake and
the birds in the air and the stones, too,
in the black desert
want to hear what it has to say.

But to be honest,
it has all been said before.

from Light and After (deep south, 2010)

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)

Comments

  1. hey kobus good to hear the voice of my editor finally. so impressed, reminds me of distinct layers of sediment you know. cheers thandi

    thandi sliepen
  2. Thank you so much for your workshop at Stellenbosch University. It was truly inspiring… I loved how you read and how your passion radiated out through the words. Thank you for your wisdom.

    Jesse Brooks
  3. This incredible man is my lecturer and I am proud to be his student.

    He made me to fall in love with poetry.

    Londeka

Your email address will not be published.