Wings of Smoke at Cape Town Central Library

This past Friday I was fortunate to have been invited as a panelist at the Franschhoek Literary Festival for the first time. Renowned South African poet Antjie Krog and I were interviewed by award-winning poet Karin Schimke. I have been nervous about the event for quite some time, but felt completely relaxed when the time finally came to face a big roomful of strangers.

Karin threw some tough questions about the value or use of poetry in such terrible times we now face, both locally and in the rest of the world. I posited how poetry has never really skirted away from politics, that all along it was being written even as love and nature apparently take precedence among those who write poetry.

But how can I share more good news when the demented president of my country of birth has declared Martial Law in Mindanao – a massive island in the Philippines –when it appears the “trouble” is localized (in Marawi City) and, according to the military, largely under control?

Marawi City

Nonetheless, I shall try to use the coming invitation for me to read my work at the Cape Town Central Library this Saturday as a platform for three human rights issues:

  • Highlight the ongoing hunger strike by over a thousand Palestinian prisoners held in inhuman conditions by Israel

  • Express my support for women of South Africa who are far too often inflicted with such violence, including horrific murders, by men who should never be allowed to walk among us

  • Share the fear that people in the Philippines are now facing as a nationwide declaration of Martial Law seems imminent.

As it is also Africa month this May, I shall read not just from my new book, WINGS OF SMOKE, but also poetry by African authors.

Please join me at the Cape Town Central Library, 1400 – 1545, this Saturday 27 May 2017.


This Friday at Franschhoek

FLF2017

I’ll be participating on a panel discussion at the Franschhoek Literary Festival this Friday, 1430-1530, with highly respected poet Antjie Krog. We will be interviewed by Sue de Groot of the Sunday Times.

Here is a LINK TO THE PROGRAMME. The main website  of FLF2017 has links to author profiles as well.

Wish me luck. Not sure I’ll know anyone there. Or them me. Haha.

 


Canopic Jar features my poetry!

Fellow Onslaught Press author and amazing poet Rethabile Masilo, winner of the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, invited me to send work for consideration at Canopic Jar, an arts journal. I was delighted, but could only hope the other editors of the online journal would like my work. It turns out they did!

On Friday, 12 May 2017, Rethabile tagged me on Facebook to say that my work is on the “Featured Voices” section of Canopic Jar. But I couldn’t get online to post and share the news until now.

HERE is the LINK to Canopic Jar. Hope you enjoy and share the page with your friends, or anyone who you think might like such poetry.

Thank you, Rethabile! More power to Canopic Jar!

If you have the budget, dear reader, please consider buying my new book, Wings of Smoke! And for those who are in the Philippines, my most recent books published by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House are still available and can be ordered through the USTPH Facebook page.

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Sometimes I Tweet – when, as a radio listener, I was asked what I thought about the DA /Zuma case and the midnight SA cabinet reshuffle 

Check out @matangmanok‘s Tweet: https://twitter.com/matangmanok/status/860361243927957504?s=09


Zuma a Day Before April Fool’s

Mulepoo

photo of Mule feces from wikimedia

 

Zuma a Day Before April Fool’s

A snake may have no ears,
but it doesn’t mean it is deaf. Under that
scaly head, attached to its jaws,
is something akin to hearing. It snares
vibrations and low frequencies in the air.

Having no legs, it moves swifter
than we expect, drawing fear
beyond reason. A man is no snake.
To compare one with the other
is far from fair. Worse

for the one who cannot protest
a single injustice, who prefers
to crawl away from harm.
But this man, chosen by those
we trust, he makes a fool of us,

coiling in laughter as people
are struck before him, laughter
resonant as a tree hollowed out
by termites. Surely the ancestors
can see and hear the way he slithers?

-o-

RELATED ARTICLE FROM THE MAIL AND GUARDIAN


Date of Birth – originally posted on “days of stone”

Date of Birth

On the scorching final day of March
1969, multiple copies of a government document
were made to mark the birth of a child
just in time for afternoon siesta.

Though it bore his name,
chosen for him without asking
his consent, and the time
and date of his arrival, his weight,

the document said little else. Leaving him
to one day wonder whose hands
had pulled him out of his mother’s
flesh. Was that person careful

not to hurt him as she forced
open the child’s fists while counting
his fingers and toes? Did she listen
with her good ear as he took

his first breaths, listened as air
explored his lungs for the first time?
Was it a slow and intimate moment
or was the operating room

quickly wiped up and prepared
for the arrival of another child
before he could even test the limits
of his throat? Did she return

to see if he’d survived
his first hours? Or did she rush
home to her own?
Years later he would carry

a certified copy of that piece
of paper to prove his existence
to officials. But he himself
has no memory of being fished

out of a sea of watery darkness
to be held up in the humming
fluorescent light
and weighed.

-o-

This poem was written on 22 September 2016 (1324-1402) for the days of stone website of my good friend, Ryan Stone, who lives in Australia. One day I hope to finally meet my friend in person and thank him for reading my work and encouraging others to do the same.

If you are interested in my writing, my new book, Wings of Smoke, has just been released and available through various online retailers like Book Depository, Amazon and my publisher, The Onslaught Press. Readers in the Philippines may contact via Facebook my Manila-based publisher, UST Publishing House.

Writing starts largely as a solitary act. Any writing may as well be a leaf pressed by the elements between sand turned to stone if it is never read. Today I thank all those who have spent time with my words.

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Not my place to judge “Duterte’s dead”

One can only hope. That’s a line often uttered. Even I like it. That’s also what one says to oneself when submitting a piece of work for someone else to assess, to judge. That’s what I did when I posted “Duterte’s dead” here and when I entered it at the Goodreads.com poetry competition. It got honorable mention at least. But I was hoping it would at least be a finalist, just so more readers could read it. Well the decision’s out, now Goodreads members get to vote. And “Duterte’s dead” may live another day somewhere else, for some other reader to find.

At least it has been read here by over 500 visitors since it got posted. Thank you, dear readers.