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New Contrast

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Four from New Contrast Issue 147, Plus a Special Tribute to Guy Willoughby

New Contrast 147

When fêted any normal
person would be glad

But not the poet. No.
His stock-in-trade is sad.

– Gus Ferguson

I had to smile when Gus Ferguson* sent me this: Sonja insists I am the melancholic poet, but it seems I’m normal after all. Yet there is reason to be sad this Spring issue: Guy Willoughby’s untimely death in August. Guy was a man of exceptional talent as the last ofthe poems he sent me attest. I am sure, too, that you will find Finuala Dowling’s tribute to Guy, poignant, interesting, beautiful and brave. We’ve turned the tribute section of this issue into a separate monograph; please see below to read it in its entirety.

I will miss him greatly. The spotlight on the work of Guy Willoughby and Don Maclennan has obliged me, happily in fact, to make space in the journal, which in turn has suggested change. I’m going to make two related changes as an experiment. First, I will show more examples of new work by one writer in each issue. Second, I will continue to extend the number of writers whose work is published here.

In this issue, I am bringing you new work from forty six writers. I hope this will give you an impression of some – certainly not nearly all – ofthe dimensions and vitalities of new writing in South Africa today. It does mean that the variety of work any one writer produces will not be accessible here, except where the writer is spotlighted. As on any other matter, I welcome feedback.

Geoffrey Haresnape, who edited New Contrast in the 1980s and with Les has been actively involved with the journal for many more years, has retired from the board of directors. At a recent meeting he was elected to join our illustrious group of Literary Patrons. Geoff is and has been a great and amusing friend and adviser to me. I look forward to many more rhymes from Dr Severance Package, and other personae Geoff represents to a wider world.

~ ~ ~

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.

Residents of the US can now download e-book versions of the journalat

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 of the 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 – please feel free to comment. And, of course, you can send email to the editor at or to the business manager at business@


* Gus recently received the Gold Medal from the English Academy for his services to English over many years

Cover painting: “Maria” by Thandi Sliepen

Contributors to New Contrast issue 147

Guy Willoughby, Finuala Dowling, Marianne Burton, Aisling Heath, Alessio Zanelli, Geoffrey Haresnape, Elisa Galgut, Anne-Marie Moore, Danya Ristić, Chris Mann, Thandi Sliepen, Dorian Haarhof, Emily Buchanan, Dawn Garisch, Graham Ellis, Carla Chait, Damian Garside, Chad Pressman, Doug Scott, Rosemund Handler, Kevin Dean Hollinshead, Deborah Steinmair, Isabella Morris, Carole Green, Genna Gardini, Emma Lungiswa de Wet, Maya Fowler, Alex Halligey, Richard, Juergens, Gail Dendy, Silke Heiss, Adam Wiedewitsch, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Rustum Kozain, Kobus Moolman, Consuelo Roland, Liam Kruger, Jonty Driver, Karen Schimke, Brendon Bosworth, Gus Ferguson, Danie van Jaarsveld, Mari Mocke, Laura Kirsten, Sumeera Dawood, Harry Owen, Brett Beiles


Three more from New Contrast issue 147

At the Sufi’s table

Irefuse to sit at the Sufi’s table
Politely, of course. Feigning detachment, busyness.
So many lofty aspirations to pursue,

When the truth of the matter is: I know
Not where I am, what I’m doing, what lies before me.
I refuse him out of self-preservation,

Not wanting him to unravel my tightly-held sanity
Like loose stitches on a hem.
I am the hole in the needle,

And I want to be left alone with my failing stab at life.
A traveller is a traveller is a traveller and he is always on his own.
He needs to be searching for something,

And every Sufi should understand that
Yet he probes and prods and teases me with tiny bits of info.
Things about myself. Sufis are just men,

With grey beards, long robes, and I am not
thing – just a girl who is too afraid to hold out her hand
Lest she is asked to hold out a pedestal.

Sumeera Dawood


Rest for the third eye

I want the sleep I used to have
when the fall was shorter
and the rise longer;
supreme sense of comfort in each –
a taste craved by the mind.

Tongue stilled,
silence gained.

A shift
to which gravity is beside the point
and thus is neither plummet nor ascension
but something in between –a kind of suspension.

Movement enacted by thought in the vast velvet sea.
A kind of meditation, humbly meant.

Yet I continue to lie awake.

Danya Ristić


In The Graveyard Across The Road

Where two shapes, furtive, duck and weave
In this mockery of twilight,
I once loved – or was so deceived –
Wept and rutted, to my pen’s delight.

That was my brief pale hand; shot out
From darkness’ shroud (for little deaths)
And that, love-drained laughter, let out
At last between our misted breaths.

Static-coated moonlight presides
Over this, tonight’s replay. Framed
By window-panes, they do not hide
Their reproduction, are not shamed

By the chorus of witless eyes,
That surely weep, as surely man must die.

Liam Kruger


Special excerpted section from New Contrast issue 147: Tribute to Guy Willoughby

New Contrast Tribute to Guy Willoughby: Poems and In Memoriam Appreciation by Finuala Dowling


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