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Ingrid Andersen

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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

The Autumn 2011 issue of “Incwadi” is up…

and it is just the thing to take the chill off these Autumn days that have come upon us so suddenly.

There’s even a blazing log fire… or is there?

This issue of Incwadi features some powerful poetry by Kelwyn Sole; Kobus Moolman; Arja Salafranca; Malika Ndlovu; Fiona Zerbst; Gary Cummiskey; Michelle McGrane; Tania van Schalkwyk; Anton Krueger; Azila Talit Reisenberger; Gail Dendy; Ingrid Andersen; John Forbis; Kerry Hammerton; Crystal Warren; Richard de Nooy; Sarah Frost; Sophy Kohler; Andre Lemmer; Christine Coates; Pam Newham; Eleni Philippou; Cornelia Rohde and Marelise van der Merwe. 

Photographs are by Gregor Rohrig; Kobus Moolman;  Andre Lemmer; Mandy Mitchell; Marie Viljoen; Debbie Allen and Chantal Collings (who took the picture of the logs).

Incwadi is a journal of South African poetry and photography and can be found at

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Launching my craft from Cape Town

The past week has been a blur of non-stop activity, beginning shortly after my arrival from the KZN Midlands with the warm and convivial launch of my second volume of poetry, Piece Work, at Mervyn’s superb Book Lounge. From the glittery cupcakes and Leopard’s Leap wine to the lovely crowd that came to celebrate with us, it was a magical evening.


Photo: Niki Daly


Thank you, first of all, to my wonderful publisher, Colleen Higgs, of Modjaji Books. We were so sorry you had flu and couldn’t be there – we missed you! (It was good to see you better on Monday.)


Photo: Niki Daly

Reading Piece Work under the watchful eye of Helen Moffett

Thank you, too, Helen Moffett, who played gracious MC and Modjaji-Matron-in-loco-parentis. Thanks also go to those poets who sent their questions from far and wide across the globe – you were very much with us in cyber-poetic spirit.

My 45th birthday on the 9th October was spent meandering in and out of the fascinating Kalk Bay shops and around the harbour, with a friend I’ve known since our sons were at school together. The weather was a perfect gift, just for the day.

I truly expected to get hammered at check-in for all the books I took back in my suitcase. Including the second Hayibo book, Red Card.

(Moment of silence for Hayibo, please.)            

To the deliciously disreputable literary folk who came to the once-was-Greek-now-is-Drew’s-on-Durban-Road Restaurant – thanks for a great birthday party. And mango tequila? I think not.

As Colleen Higgs tweeted: when Liesl Jobson and I read together at Off the Wall this Monday evening, we rocked #Obz!Thanks, Liesl – that was a blast. We must definitely do that again.

Good to meet you, Hugh. Off the Wall at Franschhoek?

Pic by Liesl Jobson

Hugh Hodge being dissed for THAT T-shirt.

Thank you to so many people for such a great visit, particularly Helen Brain, for her kind and gracious hospitality and to Helen Moffett for sharing the beauty of Noordhoek, for the stunning tour of Silvermine and for a delicious home-grown lunch. And the gracious presence of the royal princesses Meg and Lily.

(Liesl Jobson and Niki Daly took the photos.)

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Hilton Arts Festival launch of new poetry volume by Ingrid Andersen

The launch of Piece Work, Ingrid Andersen’s latest volume of poetry published by Modjaji Press, takes place at the Witness Hilton Arts Festival this weekend.

Joining her to launch his volume Light and After (Deep South) is fellow Pietermaritzburg poet and UKZN colleague, Kobus Moolman.


Andersen’s poems fuse the best of Imagism with a heartfelt compassion; with a few well-chosen words, she can turn the rawness and imprecision of emotion into poems that reach simultaneously for clarity and for the reader’s heart. She is generous, careful, passionate – all these qualities make her work profound and accessible.Fiona Zerbst

Ingrid Andersen writes poems for an ‘age of loneliness’. With words of powerful simplicity, this book cuts open the heart and mind of the reader, stitches and sometimes mends. Darting lightly in and out of life’s small and lonely spaces and places, her quiet truths offer respite from the world’s noise. – Tania van Schalkwyk

Meditations on love, loss, family and faith, the poems in Ingrid Andersen’s second collection gleam with humanity and insight. Like bevelled and burnished tesserae, each poem in Piece Work combines the vision and precision of dedicated craftsmanship, contributing to this mosaic of an attentive life. Michelle McGrane

Launch details:

Pieces of Light - Ingrid Andersen and Kobus Moolman

Witness Hilton Arts Festival,
Saturday 18th September, 18:00

Launches are planned for Piece Work in Cape Town during October and in Johannesburg during November.

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Four from the new Spring issue of “Incwadi”

The Spring 2010 issue of Incwadi, the online journal of South African poetry and photography, marks the beginning of its second year – celebrating with some truly superb work. 

Poets featured in this issue include Finuala Dowling, Gabeba Baderoon, Rustum Kozain, Arja Salafranca, Isobel Dixon, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Colleen Higgs, Gus Ferguson, Robert Berold, Kobus Moolman, Sindiwe Magona, Fiona Zerbst, Gary Cummiskey, Aryan Kaganoff, Helen Moffett,Crystal Warren, Michelle McGrane, Ingrid Andersen, Kerry Hammerton, Malika Ndlovu, Richard de Nooy, Sarah Frost, Ester Levinrad, Moira Lovell, Anton Krueger and A.R. Reid.

Richard shared his Namibian holiday slides with us… (anyone for popcorn?)

Richard de Nooy - Wood

Richard de Nooy - Wood

 The bed between us                   – Finuala Dowling
Sometimes we sit at twilight with our feet up on the table
that I made out of a bed, as if it were normal
to have a bed, between us.
The bay too lies before us, still still and still lilac.
We have the usual conversation with variations
the one we’ve been having these twenty-eight years
We can talk about anything and we do
which is why it is always the same conversation.
I can say anything to you and I do
I can say, ‘What is your opinion of telephone lines?’
And you will answer immediately — you are not surprised
We are two friends in total accord over telephone lines
Twenty-eight years of Sunday evenings and this same
conversation with variations, and the bed between us,
and me telling you everything about the men who don’t love me
and you telling me everything about the women who are never quite sane
and maybe once every five years or so you say:
‘I’m still in love with you, you know’
it hangs there a little in the lilac twilight
but it’s just part of the conversation
and anyway you know how I’ll reply
so we carry on walking above the bay
or talking and looking at the bed that is now a table
and then you help me open the bottle of wine
and we say whatever we like and you laugh your deep laugh
and I feel relieved that the moment has passed
because I’ve stepped on the wobbly stone again without falling in
I haven’t told how once when I was desperate,
I thought of using you as an escape route;
nearly phoned you from within my cell walls
to beg: ‘Come, save me.  Save me now
and I will love you in return with proper love
with married love, with bed love, if you will only save me
But then I saved myself instead –
you never knew; I never said. 
I was living out of town. 
It was a long time ago.
I can’t tell you
because you wouldn’t let it go if I told you. 
It would change this conversation and I love this conversation.
Please let’s sit here with our feet up on the bed,
as if the bed didn’t matter.
Because it doesn’t matter.  I promise you that this is love –
this is twilight, this is lilac,
this is telephone line, this is wine,
this is love.

Helen Moffett shared with us her holiday pics from beautiful India -

Helen Moffett - Stone Lace in Old Delhi

Helen Moffett - Stone Lace in Old Delhi

Ash                                                   – Malika Ndlovu

Fire words hiss and spit from my mother’s mouth
Emitting her wrath, singeing my heart-skin

In seconds I am a quivering girl,
Voice runs dry in the face of her fuming

My water-tongue fails to dilute her venom
Or wash away her certainty of a history of offences

I swallow my opinions, switch to mute, amplify my listening
Suppress the tide rising in me, easing the swell with deepening breath

Each story, she is sure, should have turned out differently
If she hadn’t been denied the victory of the last word, felt she was heard

Assuming her battle stance, her body hardens with each smouldering word
She recalls the detailed lines of assault, blaming everyone but herself

I am her daughter still singing water songs, while she continues flaming
Turning my imagined bridges mid-sentence, to a silent rain of ash

Fog                                              – Rustum Kozain

4 A.M. Streets under fog. Streetlights gone.
Except a few down the road
and the moon’s forlorn halo
easily obscured by a plume of breath

laced with nicotine
and the meagre consolation of the last round
from the last open bar
now closed. And its glow also gone.

From the bay, a foghorn.
A long, low note from watch’s end
as if a moan of solitude
from Leviathan cast down into despair by its god.

From a rank doorway, a cry in counterpoint.
A homeless man
swaddled in his nightmares,
the abject of the rich man’s dreams.

Not one lone car carrying young lovers
drunk and eager, warm between
their legs and their hope,
their cold, misfiring hope

that after the revving and keening,
after the splutter home
after the many beers souring the breath
tonight’s love will remain.

There is no God now as lonely as these streets,
this grid
empty like love’s chessboard at game’s end;
or a labyrinth

through which comes a beast loping,
comes loping a big, forlorn dog,
its black coat matt with condensation.
And behind it from the mist emerges a man
on a walk at tangent to the world and time.
The dog loops back to him
to brush at his legs, sniff at his feet.
Then heels like a dutiful companion

at the soft ghost of a chide
as back into the fog they fade
past the last lights down the road,
a man and his black dog.

and, finally, a delicious, controversial piece to take away, from Aryan Kaganof:

poem for andile mngxitama

on the morning of that splendid day of looting
the blacks poured in to gardens wearing
pangas and machettes, cut their way
into melissa’s, and ordered 43 000
flat whites
to go

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“Eyrie” – a collaboration of image and word.

A chance connection online, a shared vision, a similar interest in an Irish painter and a generosity of spirit were the elements that made this dynamic creative initiative a possibility.

Cecilia Ferreira - Drowning Woman

Drowning Woman

In 2009, Netherlands poet Joop Bersee and South African fine artist and photographer Cecilia Ferreira connected through the internet. Their conversations resulted in Eyrie, a powerful collaboration – a dialogue of the poetic and the visual.

Bersee’s volume of poetry, Eyrie, was in the process of preparation for printing and was dedicated to artist Francis Bacon. He offered the manuscript to Ferreira to make of it what she wanted and dedicated some of the poems in the volume to her.

Interestingly, Ferreira’s striking, often brutal work has been compared to that of Francis Bacon. She, still raw, deep in the grief of a still-born daughter, found resonance with the description of the woman who inhabited Bersee’s poetry – a woman who lives in what Ferreira in her exhibition notes calls “the dark crevasses of the human mind… who sees all the way to the other side, all the way to death”. In her visual response to the poetry, she began the hard process of grieving.

Ferreira attempted not to illustrate the poetry, but to capture the images it evoked as well as its impact on her. She deliberately left the work open, “unfinished”, to leave space for interaction with the poetry.

In her biography, Ferreira says that for her, art involves the inevitable process of “brutally expressing and releasing my own emotional baggage”, using what she calls an “exaggeration of form and colour” that reveals through its honesty. She comments that “humans in general do not like being confronted by their own issues and emotional flaws”.

Cecilia Ferreira - Her sense of Flower

Her sense of Flower

Throughout Ferreira’s work in Eyrie is the sense of the mutability of life – the fluid nature of things. Loss happens. We die. Things are not as they seem – nothing can be depended upon. Thin, transparent images bleed downwards. There is dissolution – in every sense of the word. A line chosen from the poetry by Ferreira as a starting point for an image
reads:  “Face and death/listen and shatter what/has never been: foothold.” (Woman on a chair)

Ultimately, the dissolving images point to the inadequacy of both word and image to convey meaning. Bersee’s poem They read her, dedicated to Ferreira, seems to capture this elusive quality:

They read her on water,
they read her on paper,
words written,
it’s her.

a lie;
she’s no one,
as the light goes out,

as the words
with the dark.

Cecilia Ferreira -ghost woman

Ghost Woman

In the paintings that make up this collection, Ferreira plunges the dark, emotional depths of being human, but at the same time, maintaining a tension with an objectified portrayal of humanity. In the unmediated outpouring of feeling, her work is raw in the power and intensity of its images. It is defiant in its unsettling confrontation of the viewer.

Images of entrapment, of drowning, of violence, in particular, that of the ragdoll-like, constructed woman with the hollow circles for eyes, (Ghost Woman) demand a response.

And yet, there is hope: one crucified, drowning woman has (barely) kept her head above water. But the thing from which she hangs is an instrument of entrapment – a hook.

Here, salvation cannot be that simple.

» read article

Visual poetry and articulating images

The last few weeks have given me an opportunity to begin to articulate what has been largely an intuitive understanding of how I go about writing poetry, and why I created Incwadi, the online journal of poetry and photography.

The first opportunity was provided by Imke van Heerden’s invitation to post to the LitNet Big Book Chain Chat. Under the title Closing the Circle, I responded to Richard de Nooy’s previous (and engaging) post about the influences on his writing while I was in the process of thinking about my own.

I wrote:

“Recently, I’ve been coming to understand who has influenced me as a poet. I studied English literature at Wits in the mid-1980s, while South Africa was struggling to get out from under the threatening finger of PW Botha. It was a time when it was usual for teargas to drift in at lecture theatre windows. No doubt my lecturers and tutors gave me a thorough grounding in the canon of English literature. It was more than two decades ago, so I remember very little, except the writers with whom I went on to form a lifelong relationship. I do remember loathing Milton.

While my studies broadened my understanding, they narrowed me as a writer. I had been writing poetry since childhood, but it took the study of literary criticism to silence me. I did what I could to emerge from under my education. In the years up to the publication of my first collection, Excision, in 2004, I was, to all intents and purposes, finding my voice again. I read extensively. As time went on, I wrote poetry that was more visual, terse and lean. I pared away the unnecessary, I made words work hard. For me, poetry was a visual art form in which one could see through the image or the object to meaning. ”

Read the rest of the post on LitNet’s Big Book Chain Chat

I’ve also been in discussion with several fine artists who are interested in the interaction between the word and the image, and some interesting collaborations are evolving there. I’ve written a review of fine artist Cecilia Ferreira’s body of work Eyrie, written in response to Joop Bersee’s volume of poetry of the same name.

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