Monday, April 12, 2010

I took my own advice and ordered from Africa Book Centre's sale, and a lovely parcel has arrived with SPRING WILL COME by William N. Zulu and MORE THAN A CASUAL CONTACT by Jeremy Cronin.

I am a fan of woodcuts, linocuts and the like. There is such a fineness of detail that appeals to my eye. Not that many South Africans work with woodblocks. The most well-known is probably John Muafangejo, following his death other artists are establishing themselves, and William Zulu is one of them. This is his autobiography and since I grew up in the same area he did, I am looking forward to dipping in. Coincidentally, the artist Sophie Peters is worth looking at if you are interested in this kind of thing.

Jeremy Cronin made a huge impression on me as a teenager with his first collection, INSIDE (1983). It was the height of apartheid when I first read him and we were living through a state of emergency. So many people were detained without trial, and Cronin's work seemed entirely relevant.
I SAW YOUR MOTHER

I saw your mother
with two guards
through a glass plate
for one quarter hour
on the day that you died.

'Extra visit, special favour'
I was told, and warned
'The visit will be stopped
if politics is discussed.
Verstaan - understand!?'
on the day that you died.

I couldn't place
my arm around her,
around your mother
when she sobbed.

Fifteen minutes up
I was led
back to the workshop.
Your death, my wife,
one crime they managed
not to perpetrate
on the day that you died.

He is now the South African Deputy Minister of Transport.

3 Comments:

Blogger Haarlson Phillipps said...

Brilliant poem - read it aloud three times. Very evocative of very troubled times. Thanks for sharing it.

11:52 am  
Anonymous David said...

The South African government has now begun arresting journalists and detaining them without charge on the whims of politicians, and is introducing legislation that will prevent the media from running stories that "undermine the government".

We learned so much from Apartheid, it seems.

10:30 am  
Anonymous Shelley said...

Yes, there is something haunting about the art form of the woodcut: like a dream.

6:41 pm  

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