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?
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.