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New Contrast

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Four from New Contrast 148

New Contrast 148 Cover

Summer Notes

Jack Cope edited the first issue of Contrast published in the Summer of 1960. This issue, therefore, enters our 50th year. Next year we will publish a lovely book edited by Stephen Watson celebrating our half century not out. (Any ideas for a title?) We will, of course, also publish the journal itself as scheduled each quarter. From our 51st year we are dropping the New, and reverting to our original title, Contrast magazine.

The spotlight this issue is on the very much alive writer, Rosemund J Handler. I have selected one short story and nineteen poems, which will give you something of the flavour of Rosemund’s wit and wisdom. I am sure, too, you will enjoy Sarah Lotz’s review of Rosemund’s novels. Then we have the work of over forty other writers from round the country and the world, for your entertainment.

And now a concern. I have so few pieces in national languages other than English that I am reluctant to publish from so very small a selection. I realise it is in part my lack of fluency and even knowledge of languages other than English that inhibits some contributors. And, of course, the journal then appears ever more ‘English’. That is not our intention. I need help here please. I have excellent personal friends and ‘consultants’ who can advise (and edit) Afrikaans material. I can also get access to help with pieces in any of our other national languages, and some foreign languages. I would dearly like to give space and prominence to a representative spread of work by local writers, not confined to writing in English.

**

The scanning of the full set of the journal, both Contrast and New Contrast, is now complete at UCT. I had hoped we would be able to make available on-line everything, bar the current issue. But first we need to convert images to text using OCR technology. Once done, the issues will be fully searchable by Google and other engines. And so enabled for researchers. This resource will become available to every subscriber, whether individual or institution. Residents of the US have already begun downloading e-book versions of recent issues of the journal at http://www.scribd.com/.

The campaign to recruit subscribers continues. We’ve had some success in that over the last two years subscriber numbers have 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. 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 – http://www.openoffice.org/), 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.

And, of course, you can send email to the editor ed@SALJ.co.za or to the business manager biz@SALJ.co.za.

Hugh

Contributors to New Contrast 148

Rosemund J Handler, Sarah Lotz, Karin Schimke, Danya Ristić, Anne-Marie Moore, Jane North, Genna Gardini, Kerry Hammerton, Danie van Jaarsveld, Barry Wallenstein, Chad Pressman, Consuelo Roland, Sumeera Dawood, Bill Nasson, Kevin Dean Hollinshead, Doug Scott, Michael Copely, Marilyn Keegan, Adam Wiedewitsch, Doug Downie, Abbey Khambule, Azila Reisenberger, Kobus Moolman, Rustum Kozain, Marianne Burton, Norman Morrissey, Ian Tromp, Jonty Driver, Isobel Dixon, Karina Magdalena Sczcurek, Richard Alan Bunch, Kris Faure, Deborah Steinmair, David Cornwell, Arja Salafranca, Colleen Higgs, James O’Connor, Liesl Jobson, John Eppel, Aisling Heath, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Barbara Fairhead, Brett Beiles, John Forbis, Wendy Woodward, Thandi Sliepen, Fern GZ Carr, Rene Tajlaard

Four from New Contrast 148

Before she met you

before you
she thought herself tangy
yet subtle
not quite ripes
weet-sour at the pip
a pale apricot
or a mango with strings
even a lemon
scouring the palate inside out

the day you saw her
your nostrils flared
the bite and burn of her
an onion
between your teeth
crackling
wincing
you stayed the course
juicy with tears
pared to the heart of her

that takes a man
now that takes a real man

Rosemund J Handler

*

The one-eyed cat glares at him

as he rips off shirt breaks buttons bares chest
hairs tingle at their freedom
purple scar touches
light

she moves to hide in the study
and the cat blinks

Sumeera Dawood

*

from A South African Historian in the Court of King Hollywoodor, when Bill and Ben were not the Flowerpot Men

Early in 2007 the leading Hollywood actor, John Malkovich, was on the campus of the University of Cape Town, a place where I have been teaching history for over two decades. His visit was a brief whirl to sniffabout the Arts Block and its Department of English which for years had been home to the acclaimed South African novelist, JM Coetzee, and which provided part of the background setting for his powerful story,Disgrace. Malkovich was at the drawingboard, swotting up to play the role of the disgraced Professor David Lurie in the film version of the novel. A discreet figure, some of those who spotted him wondered whathe would make of it all Here was an American actor pretending to be a South African University of Cape Town academic in an imaginary screen world. As fate would have it, at approximately the same time a real University of Cape Town lecturer was not only about to find himselfimmersed in what is often termed film ‘experience’. In another, wholly unexpected kind of adaptation, this academic would end up pretending to be an actor in a fictional historical narrative involving the construction of the House of Commons in Victorian Britain. What follows is that celluloid tale – or, to be exact, the personal experience of the present writer when the great summons suddenly arrived from Hollywood on location in Cape Town, its beloved cheaper version of California where the extras are not led astray by unions or minimum wage rules.

Eventual excitement in mydrab and dusty personal world of scholarship arrived out of the blue one day in March 2007 when Moonlighting, a local film company, contacted me at my university office. It was involved in the making of an American film called The Deal, that was to be shot on location in and around Cape Town, and which would incorporate historical reconstruction on which some knowledgeable guidance would be required. The scene in question was a clash in the Commons between William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli during the second half ofthe nineteenth century. This had been scripted by the director and his lead actor who needed assurance that they had got things right for the Victorian age. Was the language convincing. Was the parliamentary debate sufficiently gripping. Would viewers be able to grasp a proper sense of the past. Did the scene contain historical errors.

One of Moonlighting’s more moonlighting employees, a former history student of mine, had mentioned that I had once taught British history. On that basis, could I do the job of checking the screenplay? No time was wasted in assuring the company that I was its man. After all, not only had I once run a university course on the history of 19th and 20th century Britain. As an undergraduate at a northern English university in the earlier 1970s I had taken ‘Modern Britain 1850–1950’ as an option. In more recent years, I had come to know the Gladstone Tabagie and Disraeli Boulangerie on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius which had once sweetened the Victorians’ tea. If I were still insufficiently informed after all that, there was another helpful brain to be picked. A Cambridge colleague at Cape Town had done the 1972 Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board GCE History A-Level Special Subject paper on ‘The Age of Disraeli and Gladstone, 1846–81’. As it would transpire,for purposes of the present film that old paper’s question 10 was right on the button in asking, ‘What was Disraeli’s concrete achievement in either foreign or colonial affairs?’

Bill Nasson

*

Daughter

The early shadows cast their fragile lace
across her sleeping face
and I am stopped in morning’s hurry
by the sudden flurry
of love and awe and fear;
so that I can only stand and peer
at the sudden, wild
beauty of my sleeping child.

James O’Connor

 

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