The collection is clearly aware of its place in South African contemporary politics. There are references to Marikana, to the so-called ‘poo protesters’ and to service delivery protests in a poem like ‘Time Warp’. While ‘At Sea’ is equally concerned with delivering a political message, but chooses to do so in the form of an allegory – rather than in direct reference.
The collection also demonstrates an awareness of socio-cultural ills such as the sexual abuse of young girls in ‘Peek-a-boo’ and social inequality in ‘Grahamstown 2001’. In this sense, then, the collection is decidedly topical and current. It also addresses the reader directly, with clear and simplified language that is immediately accessible.
The poems in the first section, “Political reflection”, very stirring – strong, relevant and powerful in the snapshots they convey of where we are. These poems are strong in their women’s voice, speaking to a place that many of us are feeling right now, of betrayal, disillusion, difficulty, yet defiant hope.
“The Handover”: is very strong.
“At Sea”: is a lovely poem.
“I Call It Home”: Another winner. I love the final line that delivers such an indictment on those who don’t get it – ‘I live here where Africa mixes with itself’.
“Fyah”: has strong (though uncomfortable) things to say.
“Dear Daughter”: It is clear that this poem has arisen out of a sincere relationship, and out of a strong feeling for the author’s daughter.
“Peek a boo”: Chillingly relevant.
“I call it home”: Now this poem works and works very well. Why? Precisely because the writer has based her expression, her imagery, on the senses, and on observable detail. She uses observation and memory combined to create small stories and pictures that are alive and evocative.
“Sunday Flight”: A poem that is very powerful, evocative and rich.
“Car Watcher”: Powerful poem! Beautiful combination of line phrasing, strong effective imagery, and a message that resonates with the reader, and makes the reader think differently about an event and about the world. Excellent poem!
“Oriental Plaza”: Another extremely effective poem. It works very well. It reminds us of Mzi Mahola and Ayanda Billie locally. And Charles Reznikoff abroad.
“Piano man”: An effective poem. It works.
“A Builder”: Excellent poem! Now here the writer comes into her own. Powerfully. Here she reaches her audience and makes them see her father and makes her audience think differently about fathers and daughters. Very good.
“Blood Bond”: Excellent. This is real writing. This is a real poem. This is the kind of depth and strength that is rare to find in poetry. It is here in front of us. The poet has stopped thinking about the market and readership (and what they want) and focused on the words in front of her. This is excellent. The poet has listened more to the voices inside her. This is the kind of poem that makes a reader sit up and pay attention. It is real!