New poetry anthology remembers the past and dreams the future through voices of young poets

11 March 2021 - 14:10 By Christine Skinner
'Yesterdays and Imagining Realities' features work from 26 young local poets.
'Yesterdays and Imagining Realities' features work from 26 young local poets.
Image: Supplied

A new anthology of poetry honours stories from the past and projects hopes for the future through the eyes and voices of 26 young SA poets.

Yesterdays and Imagining Realities: An Anthology of South African Poetry is produced through the continued poetry partnership between the French Institute of SA (IFAS) and impepho press with the support of Total SA.

The anthology gathers 30 poems from poets under the age of 30, to remember and to dream this complicated country onto paper.

“We invited young poets from SA to submit their original, unpublished poems, inspired by the theme ‘Archiving of Imaginary Stories’,” says Selen Daver, cultural attaché of the French embassy.

“We received almost 400 entries and were delighted to announce the 30 poems at last year’s Poetry Africa festival organised by the Centre for Creative Arts.

“We are honoured to accompany a new generation of SA poets with this project, which culminates with the launch of the anthology at the Time of the Writer festival. The theme resonates with the Africa 2020 Season in France programme, asking poets to explore, for example, how different narratives relate to the history of the world, how do we identify missing narratives in those stories and how is memory passed on and for what purpose?”

The launch date of March 21 also fittingly coincides with World Poetry Day and Human Rights Day.

“We are proud to be collaborating with the French Institute of SA and Total SA to bring this book to life,” says impepho press publisher Vangile Gantsho.

“impepho press is committed to celebrating and archiving African stories while preserving indigenous languages. What a gift it is to witness this country through the imagination of young creatives.”

The selection panel of poetry experts included Tshefhiwa Mukwevho, Nakanjani Sibiya, Toni Giselle Stuart and Vangile Gantsho. The anthology features work in five SA languages — English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa and Venda — and each poem is presented in English as well as its original language. Translations were carried out by Domina Munzhelele (Tshivenda), Kwazi Ndlangisa (isiZulu), Mbongeni Nomkonwana (isiXhosa), Pieter Odendaal (Afrikaans) and Sabelo Soko (isiZulu).

The cover was designed by artist Banele Khoza. Original work by Keneilwe Mokoena, Pebofatso Mokoena and Mxolosi Dolla Sapeta appears inside. All three were commissioned to create pieces that resonated with the theme and the poetry.

Poets included in the anthology are: Anathi Jonas, Angela Mthembu, Annathea Oppler, Bongeka Nkosi, Busisiwe Mahlangu, Cebolenkosi Nkosi, Claire Mary Taylor, Jennifer Sheokarah, Keith Lewis, Kylin Lötter, Masindi Netshakhuma, Masoodah Mohamed, Mazwi Shazi, Mbasa Tsetsana, Mthabisi Sithole, Nqobile Lombo, Ntsako Mlambo, Nteska Masoabi, Olivia Botha, Ronewa Mukwevho, Sarah Lubala, Thandolwethu Gulwa, Tshifhiwa Itai Ratshiungo, Wade Smit, Xabiso Vili and Zizipho Bam.

The launch of Yesterdays and Imagining Realities takes place on Sunday March 21, and will include live readings from Mazwi Shazi and Masindi Netshakhuma. There will be a discussion between literary vlogger Linda Kaoma, translator Sabelo Soko and publisher Vangile Gantsho about the process of putting the anthology together, and a word from Toni Giselle Stuart.

Join the launch from 3pm to 4.30pm streamed live on the Time of the Writer Facebook page, Twitter (@timeofthewriter) or YouTube.

The event will also be streamed on the IFAS and impepho press Facebook pages.

Article courtesy of Christine Skinner (publicist: Open Book Festival).