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New Contrast

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Four from New Contrast 146

New Contrast 146

Small minds
We walk to the front gate.
Look up and down the road.
We turn around
And go back inside.

– Buster Petersen

Editor’s notes

The death of Don Maclennan last February came as the journal was due to go to print, and too late to prepare an appropriate tribute. That is now remedied. By kind permission of Shirley Maclennan, we bring you unpublished poems by Don from Dress Rehearsal. I am indebted to Douglas Skinner, a close friend of Don and his family, who has written with warmth and affection of Don, and provided the photographs taken by family and friends, reproduced here.

This issue contains new voices and familiar. I hope you find as great a pleasure in the reading as I have in selecting these examples of current writing.

The scanning of the full set of the journal, both Contrast and New Contrast, is nearly complete at UCT. Quite soon, I hope within this year, we will make available on-line everything, bar the current year’s issues, that we have published in the last nearly 50 years. This resource will become available to every subscriber, whether individual or institution. Additional ‘seats’ for on-line access by the general public will, I hope, also be possible.

The campaign to recruit subscribers continues. We’ve had some success in that over the last two years subscriber numbers have nearly doubled. We are making progress but are not yet close to our objectives which would go a long way towards assuring the financial health ofthe journal. I hope, particularly if you are a contributor, that you do subscribe and if possible encourage others to.

Please send me electronic copies of your work. I never have time to transcribe from paper to MS Word. If you have no access to a PC at an Internet café, I will still read your stuff, but your chances of being published are significantly reduced.

I am introducing a small change to the way I manage contributions. I now store each piece on Google Docs where we can collaborate easily and quickly. By extension I am reviewing all contributions ‘in stock’ and asking writers to reduce the number of those items to six. When a piece is published it is removed ‘from stock’, making space for a replacement.

Send me a separate document for each piece of work: I want five documents if you send me five poems: zip them together. If you have no access to MS Word, use Open Office (which is free –, or any other text writer, such as Notepad, or send me an RTF. Make sure your name, postal address, email address and telephone number are on every page of the document: use the footer in MS Word to record the information. Make sure you complete the Properties tab in the document. Send me a brief biography: it can be as formal or not as you like. I will edit it.

FEEDBACK : send me a letter by email or snail, but preferably the former. Interesting comments or suggestions I will publish.

REVIEWERS : I receive books for review regularly. If you would like to write a review, let me know. At this stage, I cannot pay you beyond the two free copies of the magazine every contributor should receive.

I monitor conversations on this blog regularly. And, of course, you can send email to the editor or to the business manager


Contributors to New Contrast 146

Don Maclennan, Douglas Skinner, Rosemund Handler, Joan Metelerkamp, Kevin Dean Hollinshead, Jane Bruwer, Laura Kirsten, Thandi Sliepen, Andries Samuel, Genna Gardini, Kobus Moolman, Grace Kim, Damian Garside, Consuelo Roland, Deborah Steinmair, Bulelwa Basse, Barry Wallenstein, Norman Morrissey, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Charl-Pierre Naudé, Mari Mocke, Chris Eugene Canter, Doug Scott, Gus Ferguson, Adam Wiedewitsch, Sam Manty, Tiah Marie Beautement, Louis Greenberg, Jonty Driver, Sumeera Dawood, Marcia Leveson, Heidi Marques, Jacques Coetzee, Richard Bunch, Lisa Lazarus, Doug Downie, John Simon, Michael Bernard, Rustum Kozain, Kelwyn Sole, Ken Barris, Clive Lawrance, Mark Swift, Elizabeth Joss, Mark Swift, John Simon, Buster Petersen

Cover art by Thandi Sliepen

Three more from New Contrast 146


We began together
moving stones away
to make a garden.
Married, our own sheets
drying on the line,
we sat at breakfast,
summer sunlight and the elms
reflected in the toaster.
You brushed your hair
at the window,
pleased with being you.

After years
I went to look for you,
longing to see you as you were
when first we met.
But I lost you by looking back;
I could not help myself.
You opened your arms
and cried my name
as darkness swallowed you again.

– Don Maclennan


from “Origami” by Louis Greenberg

‘Hi, Roberta,’ says Saskia, the new young Junior Lecturer, as she passes my door. ‘How’s the paper-folding going?’

Last week, I made a new horse, based on a very tricky design. I spent days on it. I was pleased with the way the edges had matched up so neatly, of its proud, yet somehow weary bearing, as if it had just succeeded in a long run. I loved how its essential horseness had developed out of nothing but a flat piece of paper, breathed to life by my hands, how the repeated folding in of something shapeless and conventional became alive, vulnerable, unique. I covered the horse with a fine spiral design, and it looked to me like a Japanese rendition of an ancient Greek sculpture.

I don’t detect any mocking in Saskia’s tone, apart from her refusal to use the term ‘origami’, after I’ve corrected her a number of times already. Some of the senior teachers in the department don’t make much of an effort to hide their derision of me and the things I do. They see themselves as serious artists, or more particularly, serious art critics, and handcraft is lower than the lowest form of art. But I continue to bring them in, brightening up this brown-grey office and the concrete, dust-and-pigeon-poo-coated courtyard outside, arraying the little birds and horses and unicorns and pixies along my window ledge. The students seem to like them, often comment, and congratulate me on the new ones. They are not jaded yet.

And it’s for the students I’m here. Not to pick up after the staff. As departmental secretary, I am custodian for my students. I keep their essays bound and their portfolios safe. I keep the lists of marks coherent, and made sure they receive every credit that is due to them. If it were up to the teachers, those columns of numbers would be blown away, skitter around lost under the couches and carpets in their offices. When students need answers, a phone number, to know who is on leave and when they’ll return,what has been marked, and when they’ll get it back, who will moderate and who will examine, they come to me. When the department needs pens, paper, print jobs, I am the person who unites all the individual parts of this department into some workable organization.

The teachers repay me with their scorn and their snappish demands. But I am here for the students. I never got into a university course, and I got little encouragement growing up. So when I see the students, who’ve made the marvellous success of actually getting here, crying to me and to each other outside my office about the destructive comments and the meanness of the teachers, I open my door and my heart to them. I offer them advice, try to do just a little thing to counteract the negativity they have to face.



She gives in to the glorious pull of water:
An avocado drops to the ground.

– Sumeera Dawood


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    July 7th, 2009 @19:19 #

    Hooray... it's good to have a paper publication for the first time in a while.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    July 7th, 2009 @19:24 #

    Groovy! Must try to get a copy when I'm in town. Will try CNA. Not.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Hugh</a>
    July 7th, 2009 @19:59 #

    Richard, New Contrast is available by subscription. A small number of copies go to Clarke's, The Book Lounge, and Kalk Bay Books. You can order on the net but that's expensive. You can get a copy from me at any Off-the-Wall session (R50, special), otherwise by post (R75 inclusive).

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    July 7th, 2009 @20:06 #

    Thanks, Hugh. All of those options are enticingm, but unfeasible for this Amsterdam lad. How about an online subscription? I subscribe and you email me the pdf.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">liamkruger</a>
    July 8th, 2009 @21:35 #

    ha. Nice choice of 'Acceptance'. Will try and get a copy at an Off-the-Wall some time soon.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Hugh</a>
    July 12th, 2009 @07:15 #

    sorry about the delay - got otherwise sidetracked. You can subscribe online at

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    July 12th, 2009 @20:32 #

    Thanks, Hugh, will arrange subscription when I get back to Amsterdam. Best. R.


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