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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

New Contrast’s 50th Birthday – an Invitation to a Poetry Party

newcontrast_invite(2)

You’re invited to celebrate with New Contrast, the oldest surviving literary magazine in South Africa on the occasion of its 50th birthday. Editor, Hugh Hodge, will play host at this festive occasion which will feature readings from the following writers who have contributed to their celebratory new edition – no 152 already!

Mike Cope
Rosemund Handler
Kelwyn Sole
Consuelo Roland
Ken Barris
Karin Schimke
Danie van Jaarsveld
Bulelwa Basse
Geoffrey Haresnape
Martha Evans
Paul Mason
Silke Heiss
Tom Eaton
Liesl Jobson

Featuring:

Food sponsored by Tandym Print. Wine sponsored by Leopard’s Leap.


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Four from New Contrast 152 – The 50th Anniversary Edition

New Contrast 152 - The 50th Birthday Edition

Contrast is fifty.

This is the first issue of our second half century. I hope we prosper.

Occasionally, I’m asked about my editing ‘rules’: whether I follow Oxford or Chicago.

I confess I do neither and do not conform knowingly to any other set of rules or opinions. Let me explain.

I hear poetry, and some occasional prose, every week. I read other people’s new writing every day. English varies a lot. I found, with the poet in performance, I would sometimes hear with the expectation of ‘errors’. Or, when reading, that I should correct/edit the stuff that was ‘wrong’. Then a miracle happened that explained almost everything: a Darwinian revelation.

A Nigerian poet read, by invitation at Off-the-Wall. He was witty and wise with the language that always brings ‘No Woman, No Cry’ to my ears. At the end he asked for questions. I asked why he read only in English and not in his home language, be it Yoruba, Ibo and so on. He replied, ‘My home language is English.’

Not that it matters, of course. But it did bring home to me, abruptly, that the varieties are many. And that is its peculiar strength. Beyond English, it is humanity’s and life’s spice. So, my ‘editing’ is based on the idea that you and I communicate using one or more varieties of our language: there is no correct way. Or, perhaps, even common way. The English of township and suburb, east and west, differ, but the language is everybody’s property.

The editor wishes only that you write well in your tongue.

Hugh

Celebrating the Fiftieth Year of New Contrast

A half century is a good innings when not out, but needs the same again and more. So, here’s to the ton!

New Contrast isn’t a cricketer, more a John Arlott commenting on our life and times. How much things change; how little. The hopes and fears of Contrast #1 are not so different from New Contrast #151. In life and literature, the stories stay the same, the characters change. And so it is that privilege and poverty flourish still in our country. This journal and others like it serve a small enlightening public, a public who have had advantages: books at home, books at school, and all that follows.

Patricia Schonstein came up with the idea of the Bell Jar – a borrowing from Sylvia Plath – into which the audience and participants at the Off-the-Wall readings at Kalk Bay Bookshop, Espresso Dot Kom and A Touch of Madness, and by post, contributed anonymously over R3700 in notes and coin to buy subscriptions for needy institutions, such as high schools. We took it further to ask individuals and companies to add to that fund. And they have! We now have the money to supply twenty four schools in 2011.

These people, writers, those who simply enjoy literature, celebrate the fiftieth year in Contrast by contributing towards the literary subscription project, confident that among its new readers will be some who will one day become writers and contributors of note themselves. I thank you all.

—HH

Contributors to New Contrast 152

Kolade Arogundade, Suzy Bell, Terry Bell, Barbara Bell, André Brink, Karina Szczurek, Marianne Burton, Penny Busetto, Derek Conroy, Mike Cope, Julia Martin, Colleen Crangle, Finuala Dowling, Sean Fraser, David Friedland, Rochelle Ginsburg, Kerry Hammerton, Silke Heiss, Paul Mason, Colleen Higgs, Cathy Hofmeyr, Evelyn Holzhausen, Jeanne Hromnik, Eva Hunter, Liesl Jobson, Shaun Johnson, Leonie Joubert, Megan Kerr, Helen Moffett, Michael Muller, Anke Nitzsche, Consuelo Roland, Karin Schimke, Don Pinnock, Patricia Schonstein, Elinor Sisulu, Alan Stevenson, Toni Stuart, Marianne Thamm, Ben Williams/BOOK SA, Wendy Woodward, The ‘Bell Jar’ anonymous donations

Four from New Contrast 152

from Remembering Contrast No. 1

1

Contrast No. 1 is seen, like everything else, from an adult’s shoulder height. I am nine years old. It is a part of a world I look in on but do not participate in.

2

Contrast is a Jack and Uys enterprise. It contains their writings, and those of their friends. It pushes certain views and values (theirs). Its head office is my father’s bedroom, which is a three metre square wooden box which contains a bed, a cupboard and a desk. The box has a bay window which looks out over Clifton bay, the most beautiful view in the world.

My father is the editor which doesn’t surprise me as his job is to be an editor. At first he worked for the Guardian. Not the British Guardian but the local commie one. Then he worked for himself and farmed a bit in Natal. Now he works as a night sub-editor on the Cape Times. Uys doesn’t work. He seems to mostly lie in his big double bed in the other (bigger) room among random heaps of paper – manuscripts, books, magazines, newspapers.

3

There are three kinds of friends – bohemians, commies and neighbours. Contrast is about the first lot. I like the bohemians best but my own friends are the children of the neighbours. The communists seem cross and worried. Some of the friends seem to be both bohemians and commies, but I am never quite sure. None of the neighbours are either.

4

I am not yet fully aware of how edgy my normal is. 1960 is a peak year for Nationalist power. White people (it turns out we are white) are in general neither bohemian nor communist, and in fact it is illegal to be the latter. Jack and Uys have black friends, and the neighbours don’t.

5

I am aware in a big-eyed sort of way of the conspiratorial nature of much of the social action that moves through Sea Girt, the bungalow that contains Contrast’s head office. I know that both the bohemians and the commies are being transgressive in some way, but I am not sure exactly how.

Michael Cope

*

Sacred Passage
For my sister Jeannette Khensani Bila

Before the stoep of our house
Where the underground pipes lie
Khenyeza the dagga-smoking builder discovered your clothes
When he was digging the foundation
I lay invisible flowers
And water them to bloom and blossom
In all seasons

I take off my shoes
Walk on this passage gently
Hold your hand, my sister
As we sip coffee together on the stoep
With our aged mother Fokisa N’wa-Mahatlani Maxele

Even when the torrential rains wash away your clothes
And the remains buried beneath the ground
I shall always remember that I walk on graves –
On fragile bodies of my beloved people
Whose spirits make wicked people sneeze and wobble

And whenever I discover something anew
I shall listen to your voice prickling my conscience
For every ground is covered with blood
Its pillars are human bones

As you smile Khensani, and our eyes hold each other
Know that you’ll never be a khumbi that only remains behind the hut
Or buried in the wetlands of the rivers
In time, you’ve grown to comfort my heart
You are the holy angel
That guards and saunters in your mother’s glittering house.

When my steps triple
And movements go astray
Carry the torch
And show me the way in darkness

What I have belongs to you
It belongs to our mother Mbati-ya-ku-fuma
Who’ll soon take a warm bath of salts
And forget the pain of losing you, her last-born child
And Klaas, her first-born
And Richard, her first husband
And Risimati, her second husband

When I finally go –
I will hold your hand, again
As I join your father
and the entire Bila ancestry
emaxubini.

Vonani Bila

*

Die pad huistoe

Tussen Breedeleegte en Brakfontein
lek die son plek-plek deur waterkleur
streepsels wolk.
Die R61 pyl grys voorentoe.

Radiohead kla die iPod vol.

    ‘i wanna perfect body
    ‘i wanna perfect soul’

Hier’s maar min om voor te wens –
net dooie teer en kraaie wat teer
op bloederige padkos.

    Binne-binne
    ribbe-binne

is daar ook niks. ’n Mooie niks.
In die stilte knik die koppies,
wring die wind stofworsies
wat hy oor die pad spin

en

    ‘i’m a creep
    ‘i’m a weirdo’

ek dink ek’s nou by angsverby,
dalk naby geluksbegin.
Hier lê die weesvlaktes.
              So is ook goed.

Karin Schimke

*

Elegies For Living Poets

Don Maclennan, 1929–2009

Gaunt and suave in your blue beret
(even when you shuffled slowly, bent over your ashplants)
you had learned enough to know
that it all boiled down to those four-letter words
you Anglo-Saxoned with relish
to shock and challenge.
Your grim – or chuckling? – eyes
never wavered under those frosty forests of eyebrow.

Once, as I stood at a basin, you walked into the men’s toilet
declaring:
‘I’ve always thought I should wash my hands
before I touch my prick, and not
the other way around.’

You read us your locomotive poem
and we saw the steam rise, shut our ears
against the shriek of the whistle, felt the deep throb
of the driving pistons;
you talked about the shit of trains and railways
as if shit were a compliment, a praise-word.
Later, you also listened to me read, and kindly
didn’t call my poems
shit.

The last time I saw you, I hardly dared
to offer you help
when you battled to stand up on your own –
and I turned my eyes away
when you couldn’t tie your shoelaces.

Chris Thurman

Preview New Contrast 152 (and purchase it in the USA)

New Contrast 152 – The 50th Anniversary Edition


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A Beautiful Christmas Present for Your Literate Friends: New Contrast 152, the Special 50th Anniversary Issue

New Contrast 152 - The 50th Birthday Edition

The Special 50th Anniversary Issue of New Contrast comes out soon. It’s the 152nd edition of the journal that Jack Cope and his friends first published in the summer of 1960. In celebration, we are reprinting some poems and stories from that issue – including poems by Ingrid Jonker, Anthony Eaton, Ruth Miller, Uys Krige, Anthony Delius; and stories by Nadine Gordimer, Jan Rabie, Etienne Leroux.

And more than 40 current writers also present their words for your entertainment.

What a beautiful Christmas present this makes for your literate friends! Might it inspire the aspiring poet? It’ll definitely give pleasure to the reader.

We are printing a limited number of extra copies at R100 inc. p&p to local addresses (and R130 inc. p&p internationally). To reserve yours, order now by email to Sonja – business@newcontrast.net.

Subscribers, yours is included: no need to order unless you need extra.

Consider buying a subscription for yourself or special friends – only R250pa inc. p&p for local addresses for the 2011 volume of 4 issues.


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Four from New Contrast 151

New Contrast 151

Contrast was first published in the Summer of 1960 and its fiftieth year concludes with this rich Spring issue. The next issue, the 152nd, will be the first of its next half century.

We have cause to celebrate. First, that we have made it here at all: there have been moments of doubt. Second, that we have energetic and imaginative supporters.

UCT always help with substantial funding and are our main sponsors, I thank the university and, in particular, Stephen Watson and Rob Baum at GIPCA for their support. There are a good number of individuals who have helped down the years and continue to do so. I must, though, mention two dear friends: Patricia Schonstein and Karin Schimke. Patricia Schonstein for her ideas and application to the task of recruiting more subscribers. Patricia has been instrumental in setting up the project to obtain money to buy subscriptions for high schools who have few resources. In so doing, helping both the schools’ and the journal’s health. She instituted the ‘Bell Jar’ (after Sylvia Plath) at Off-the-Wall poetry readings in Cape Town which has resulted in over R2000 being contributed by the audiences for these schools in the last month. Karin Schimke, who is my partner in crime at Off-the-Wall poetry readings, has actively supported the Bell Jar and used her Facebook contacts to recruit both new subscribers and sponsors.

It is inspiring.

Enjoy the read. Oh, Sogenaamd Sestiges, and others, enjoy Stephen Watson’s essay on Leonard Cohen.

Hugh

Contributors to New Contrast no. 151

Geoffrey Haresnape, Abdul Ali, Sarah Frost, Brett Beiles, Esther van der Vyver, Grace Kim, Karin Schimke, Jenna Mervis, Madeleine du Toit, Chad Pressman, Beverly Rycroft, Michael Bernard, Emily Buchanan, Jason Rotstein, Azila Reisenberger, Ken Barris, Austin Kaluba, Dj Protest, Brian Walter, Andries Samuel, Vonani Bila, Jonty Driver, Arja Salafranca, Bob Commin, Sara Dias, Marí Peté, Heidi Henning, Lawrence Dugan, Consuelo Roland, Marianne Burton, Martha Evans, Mea Lashbrooke, Eugenie R Freed, Stephen Watson, Johan Geldenhuys

Four from New Contrast 151

bronsvat

om aan brons te vat
is soos om ’n geliefde
aan te raak
die silwerbruin
soos ’n siel gegiet
teen die verderflikheid
selfs die voorafgaande
kleiwerk; hard en kwaai

soos die van god
of minstens die van ’n smid

jy kan nie aan ’n prent vat
soos aan jou beminde se gesig nie
soos die kleur van lippe wyer
as lippe se tekstuur
of ooglede op wangsag glasuur –

wanneer ’n prent jou beminde
se gesig in het,
is dit maar net
omdat jy haar nooit weer gaan sien nie

of is dit bloot net omdat
jy eenvoudig nie kan vat
aan ’n prent
soos jou beminde se gesig nie

Andries Samuel

*

The Pig

I checked his shoes –
Rough and wild

And the nails –
Long and dirty

That’s how I notice a pig
Even in parliament

Too greedy
He even kills the piglets.

Vonani Bila

*

from “Leavening” by Eugenie R. Freed

Being different, irrevocably different, was a way of life for Annie Berger’s family. The Berger children had always known, for instance, that they should refuse the wors or chops at a neighbourhood braaivleis. Meat for the Berger household came from a butcher in Cape Town, and arrived by ox-wagon every week in oilskin packages under a melting block of ice wrapped in dirty sacks. Saying ‘Nee dankie, Tannie! Nee dankie, Oom!’ to the aroma of wors sizzling on the braaiskottel was hard enough, but it was even more of a deprivation when the Berger children did not get presents at Christmas-time, since all their friends did. It was an inescapable part of their being different.

At the same time, Annie shared with her sisters and brother the unspoken understanding, handed down to them by their parents, that although they were different and always would be, they must take great care to appear to be just the same as everyone else in the Boland town where they lived. Annie’s parents, Ben and Sarah, spoke to one another in Yiddish at home; but if a neighbour came in, they immediately reverted to broken Afrikaans, even when they addressed each other. Annie had once asked her mother why they did this, but her mother only shook her head and said ‘Shh-shh, Channi, shh-shh, mein feigele.’

It wasn’t so much that the Bergers looked different from their neighbours. Annie didn’t. Her best friend Grieta Holtzhausen liked to joke that she and Annie could almost be mistaken for sisters – except that Grieta’s long blonde hair was straight, and Annie’s fell naturally in curls. Grieta and Annie were inseparable; they shared a desk in the classroom at school every morning, and spent their afternoons together as well, whenever they could. The two girls would braid one another’s hair and wind the plaits around each other’s heads in identical hairstyles. Annie was the youngest child of the Berger family. She was eleven, fair-haired and pale-skinned, with her mother’s deep blue eyes. Sarah Berger’s graying fair hair, always pulled back into a bun at the back of her neck, framed a plump gentle face with broad high cheek bones and a flattish nose, and those astonishing eyes. Annie had her mother’s colouring, but her father’s clean-cut features. Sarah would sometimes look at her youngest daughter, thinking – such a pretty girl, this feigele Channi! They would have to be so careful with her!

Ben Berger, known as ‘Oom Ben’, was a small man. His littleness of stature and build marked him out in that community of big-boned boereseuns and their equally sturdy womenfolk. Charlie, the coloured man who worked for Ben in the shop, called him ‘die Oompie’ – sometimes, ‘daai Joodjie’ – but never to his face.

*

from “Leonard Cohen and Longing” by Stephen Watson

It is the improbability that still commands attention. Even he would be quick to agree that he could not sing (though he would add that he was one of those people, nonetheless, ‘whose voices are connected to the heart’). He, too, would say that, as a musician, he was no virtuoso (though, characteristically, he would also affirm that he knew five chords on the guitar rather than the three with which others credited him). Nor was he uniquely talented as a poet, despite the acclaim that would greet his first volume of verse, Let Us Compare Mythologies, in 1956, and his rapid ascension to the status of culture-hero in his native country. For the most part, his verse would remain resolutely minor, often lazy, facetious, meretricious—the squibs and doodles of a self-confessed ‘pseudo-poet’, its political sheen as thin as the radical chic of the times.

Yet all along something else was there. No one, perhaps not even he, could have foreseen that there would meet and fuse in him a number of elements which, drawing on his abilities as a poet yet distinct from them at the same time, would turn him into a great song-writer. While it was easy to compare his poems with others (Allen Ginsberg and the Beats were an obvious presence), the songs would be, like all things truly original, sui generis: there was literally nothing with which to compare them. At the outset he would be likened of course to Dylan, particularly because of the poetic nature of his lyrics. And in his career, as with the latter’s, there would be periods—whole years when, written off by the critics, and doubtless by himself—he would seem to be dead and buried, another instance of road-kill on rock and roll’s ever-potholed road to glory. But really, the comparisons ended there. More and more, with the years, it was his difference, essential, unrepeatable, that was to become clear.

That he should now be universally recognised and acknowledged as one of the glories of popular song in the twentieth century and after—one of the few, moreover, to have survived the last century, both his physical self and talent intact; that he himself should be admired as a man not only of unusual artistic talent but of a certain spiritual stature; and that his current global concert tour* should have been received by critics and audiences alike as one long victory march—there must be, so one likes to think, moments when he himself stands amazed by the unlikelihood. Against all the odds, he had become Leonard Cohen, a life, a fate, which had turned into a destiny.

Preview & purchase this issue

New Contrast 151


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Four from New Contrast 149 and 150

New Contrast 149New Contrast 150

In issue 149 of New Contrast, I was hoping to bring you a spotlight on Rustum Kozain whose poetry and thoughtful mind I much admire. But it is not to be: delays of one kind and another mean that we have no specific focus in this issue, but plenty of interesting stuff to read. First, the work of forty five writers grace its pages, among whom those you know well, others you may not know at all. Second, the first of eight parts of Johan Geldenhuys’s long poem, ‘The Soon Return’, appears in the issue (and the following seven issues). In all, the issue includes over sixty poems, five short stories, a review, and an extract from a forthcoming novel. I hope that is enough to entertain you for a while.

The project to make the archive of every issue of Contrast and New Contrast has reached the stage of looking for sponsors. It is going to cost approximately R2200 ($300, £200, €200) to make an issue searchable on the Web. I am hoping that both individuals and corporations will contribute. The project synopsis is at the bottom of this post.

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 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@newcontrast.net or to the business manager business@newcontrast.net.

We’ve reached the 150th issue of Contrast/New Contrast. It’s an honour to have shepherded the journal to this milestone.

Hugh Hodge

Contributors to New Contrast 149

Emily Buchanan, Marilyn Keegan, Rob K Baum, Barry Wallenstein, Jane North, Chris Mann, Herman Lategan, Chris van der Walt, Adam Wiedewitsch, Brendon Bosworth, CJ Driver, Elizabeth Trew, Karin Schimke, eckhard cloete, Robert Bolton, Kelwyn Sole, Kobus Moolman, Lungelo Mbatha, Nosihle Magwentshu, JKS Makokha, Brent Meersman, Martha Evans, Julian de Wette, Mike Hagemann, Patricia Schonstein, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhran, Phelelani Makhanya, Ken Barris, Danie van Jaarsveld, Rosemund Handler, Genna Gardini, Mark Espin, Danya Ristic, Norman Morrissey, Heidi Henning, Marianne Burton, Sumeera Dawood, Arja Salafranca, Dianne Stewart, Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho, Thandi Sliepen, Michael Bernard, Jana van Niekerk, Oliver Price, Johan Geldenhuys

Two from the issue

HAITI: 1.2010

    ‘Preamble’:
    humanity tense
    send condolences as
    tears in words console Haiti

 
Part I:

burp! Burrp!
Earthquake!
cosmic constipation!

CraaACK!
Sirens, screams,
quakes commence!

in Pòtoprens
both nature and life
now struggle to survive!

in Pòtoprens –
crushing ceilings
on citizens wailing!

in Pòtoprens –
crushing ghetto floors
below fast falling feet!

Clang! – Crash!
Crackle – cough
dying radio studios!

petrified
chihuahua puppies
in châteaux coffins!

howling omens
under a chapel bell,
an owl in a Haitian night!

‘Run!’
UNO listening
Haiti on the line!

– JKS Makokha

*

You took each word

You took each word from your mouth –
glistening in the light of its own vowels,
translated and buffed, each meaning
morselled out like tongue and diphthong
feeding sound and silence –
and placed it in the cup of my throat.

Now every remembered love word
sticks in my craw.
I choke on your reticence.

– Karin Schimke

~ ~ ~

Contributors to New Contrast 150

Beverley Rycroft, Sarah Frost, Paul Mason, Fred Simpson, Heidi Henning, Bob Commin, Chris van der Walt, Brett Beiles, Danya Ristic, Maya Fowler, eckhard cloete, Madeleine du Toit, Grace Kim, Mari Pete, Gail Dendy, Lawrence Dugan, Shari Daya, Tiah Beautement, Anton Krueger, Rachel Paton, Ken Barris, Lana Brunner, Arja Salafranca, Fern GZ Carr, JKS Makokha, Abdul Ali, Medzani Musandiwa, Sara Dias, Martha Evans, Barbara Erasmus, Lauren van Vuuren, John Simon, Johan Geldenhuys, Andie Miller

Two from the issue

van uit “Om honger te stil”

Die tarentaal in die groen tuin piep fyn-fyn-fyntjies soos hy verbypronk met sy kaalblou nek en klein ogies. Een … dui-send, twee … dui-send, drie … dui-send tree hy verby. As ek my been uitsteek sou ek hom kon pootjie, of te pletter skop. Vir hom en sy witspikkel-rooilel maat agter hom. Hulle is gewoond aan my, hulle met die knikkoppe en skubberige bene en lang toonnaels. Hulle weet nie dat mense anderkant die tuin graag hulle blou gesigte met haeldons deurboor nie. Rooi wat spat-spatspat uit die blou.

“Gedra julle soos blankes” het Oom Louw altyd gesê wanneer ons te veel lawaai buite die kerk ná Sondagskool. Dis wat ons nou doen. Wegkruipertjie is ’n lelieblanke spel. Maar dit hou die ekonomie aan die loop, al kreunende, soos ’n ratkas wat olie nodig het. My neef Mossie, byvoorbeeld, het lank sonder werk gesit. Toe’t hy vir hom ’n onderneming begin. Vra hom, en hy sê jou hy’s ’n security. Net so. Hy’t ’n abstrakte naamwoord geword.

Diefwering en gepantserde Prado’s en helduur alarmstelsels sou nie gekeer het dat ons pa vermoor word nie. Want hy was buite. Op pad om mielieland toe te ry in sy Toyota. Wat hulle toe nie saamgevat het nie. Al wat hulle vir hulself toegeëien het, was ’n ding wat die Bybel sê iets is om or te baklei: ’n siel. Dís wat hulle gegryp het. Dit, en twee mense se pa. En iemand se eks. Wat hulle met drie loodkoeëls deurboor het. Hulle het nie eers sy beursie gevat nie. Masechaba was te vinnig. Sy’t laat spaander na die platdakhuis, die alarm aan die skree gesit en oor die radio geroep. “Help, Here tog, help, dis die baas, hulle’t hom gaskiet!” En met dié spring die donners toe weer in hulle ou rammelkas diesel-bakkie en brul weg.

– Maya Fowler

from “Killed”

Mrs Thompson woke up every morning at six. After breakfasting on half a banana sliced into a cup of oats, she left for work; driving right along Rose Street and turning left into Beatrix as she headed towards the city centre of Pretoria. She travelled the same route every day, and whenever she stopped at a traffic light – at Prinsloo, or Visagie, or Vermeulen – she kept her eyes firmly fixed on the road ahead. Mrs Thompson had learnt to shut out any disturbance to her regular routine.

It wasn’t because she was callous that Mrs Thompson ignored the people she saw along the way. She never deliberately shut them out. It was just that they had become invisible. Occasionally, a dirty beggar’s face might momentarily be thrust into her private space, pleading, a faint glimmer from a world beyond her comfort zone appearing for a moment through the edifices of the etiquette she had constructed around herself. She might, for a moment, be made aware of the weight of despair behind the eyes of the person at her window; but she inevitably managed to shuffle her car into gear and move on before any discomfort set in.

Today Mrs. Thompson could not avoid looking at this boy. She vaguely recognized him as he sat staring back at her from across the court room floor. Wasn’t this the kid from the corner of Hamilton and Vermeulen? The beggar had often appeared at her window – gangly adolescent elbows jutting out of a threadbare green jersey, beseeching look firmly fastened to his features. He had always seemed to Mrs Thompson to be trying almost too hard to appear pitiful, with his ohso-sorrowful expression under a mat of deliberately unwashed, tangled hair, calculated to extract sympathy and money (for drugs, no doubt) from innocent passers-by. When she had previously passed him by, Mrs Thompson had made a point of hardly glancing at his little performance, since she felt it would only encourage him to get his hopes up. But today she could not avoid staring at the boy as he sat before her in the court house, no matter how hard she tried to turn away. This boy had killed her son.

– Anton Krueger

~ ~ ~

Preview the issues at Little White Bakkie

New Contrast 149

New Contrast 150

Internet Archive & Retrieval Project Synopsis

Overview

The fundamental objective of this project is to enable an income source. This is a ‘once-off ’ project. Future issues will be enabled in the normal production process. The source is the archive of literature published in the journal New Contrast and Contrast over the last 50 years. The target market is international academic researchers, students and scholars of South African and World Literature, and the general public.

The expected outcome is improved income to the journal by an increase in the number of subscribers, and the sale of ‘seats’ giving access to the archive. Better and more regular income will reduce vulnerability to changes in donors’ ability to fund the ordinary production of the magazine, and its enhancement and expansion.

The secondary objective is integral with the primary: to make SA Literature more accessible to a wider public.

Steps Required

  • All issues of the magazine, if not already in electronic text format, need to be converted.
  • Converted issues must be copy-edited for accuracy.
  • True copies must be web-enabled.
  • Searchable issues must be published on a secure web-site with controlled access.

Funding Required

The total estimated cost of the project is just under R300 000. It includes acquisition of software and software services, but the bulk of the money is required to outsource the manual task of copy-editing. A detailed spreadsheet illustrating the calculations is available.

Software (OCR Reader) R1 500
Software Services (Websites) R18 000
Copy-editing R279 600
Total R299 100

UCT

Through the offices of the Gordon Institute’s work to scan all the ‘old’ issues, UCT will have unrestricted access to the resource for both staff and registered students. Similarly, other sponsors of one or more issues will get a permanent ‘seat’ per issue sponsored.


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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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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 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 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 – 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.

I monitor conversations on this blog – please feel free to comment. And, of course, you can send email to the editor at ed@newcontrast.net or to the business manager at business@ newcontrast.net.

Hugh

* 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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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 – 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.

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

Hugh

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
(more…)


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Four from New Contrast 145

New Contrast 145

Freedom

Freedom was on special
I bought it
I didn’t get a receipt
Now it doesn’t fit.

– Phelelani Makhanya
(more…)


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Four from New Contrast 144

New Contrast 144

Small Town Girl

Stuck in the big city,
unhappy holiday maker,
I send myself
postcards of home:
Wish I was here.

– Crystal Warren
(more…)


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