Friday, August 27, 2010

South African Poetry at Edinburgh Book Festival

Last night I went to one of the best events I've ever attended at the Edinburgh International Book Festival featuring the South African poets Keorapetse Kgositsile and Lesego Rampolokeng. I hadn't heard of either of them before the event, but I'm always interested in discovering new poets, particularly those who probably don't visit Scotland very often.

Both poets are very politically engaged and the poems they read reflected this. Kgositsile has a much quieter style while Rampolokeng is a speed reading hip-hop poet. Both poets are unafraid to speak their mind but are such skilful poets that they can negotiate the fine line between polemic and poetry.

After they had both read they discussed the links between poetry and music and the importance of politics to their poetry. The discussion was fascinating and entertaining, moving organically from topic to topic. One minute the dangers of idolising political figures (such as Nelson Mandela) the next minute the dangers of believing what you read on the internet. The event over-ran its time as much as an event at the Book Festival can over-run and I have a feeling that both audience and poets would have been happy to have stayed for quite a bit longer.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Passing Shadow

She carries her mourning
gravely through the streets
her sombre blurred reflection
in a café picture window
mingles oddly with a laughing
hen night out.

................The bride-to-be
falls silent for a beat
as she sees her shadow pass.

Previously published on Concise Delight

Thursday, August 05, 2010

When I Was A Work of Art

I try to read one novel in French every year and this was the one i chose this year. 'Lorsque j'etais une oeuvre d'art' by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt is a wonderfully strange, compelling and entertaining story about a man who becomes a work of art.

Tazio is saved from committing suicide by a mysterious benefactor who puts to him the proposition that he become a work of art. Many plastic surgery procedures later Tazio has become Adam, a public art installation, owned and controlled by his so called benefactor.

The narrative is compelling and at the same time puts forward very thought provoking discussions on issues around human identity, human rights, the concept of beauty and what is a work of art? It's also surprisingly easy to read in the original French, so I read it almost as quickly as I would have done if it were in English.

Lorsque j'etais une oeuvre d'art by Eric Emmanuel Schmitt published by Le Livre de Poche.

As far as I know this novel has been translated into English!