Our Words, Our Worlds: Writing on Black South African Women Poets, 2000–2018

UKZN Press
328 pages
Paperback / softback (9781869144128)
Digital download (9781869144135)

This groundbreaking, multi-genre anthology answers the question: what did the literary landscape look like in South Africa at the start of the twenty-first century? It documents a slice of this landscape by bringing together the writings of over twenty contributors through literary critique, personal essays and interviews. The book tells the story of the seismic shift that transformed national culture through poetry and is the first of its kind to explore the history and impact of poetry by Black women, in their own voices. It straddles disciplines: literary theory, feminism, history of the book and politics – thus decolonising literary culture. Our Words, Our Worlds covers expansive reflections: from the international diplomacy-transforming poem, ‘I Have Come to Take You Home’ by Diana Ferrus, to the pioneering publisher Duduzile Zamantungwa Mabaso; from the self-confessed closeted poet Sedica Davids, to the fiery unapologetic feminist Bandile Gumbi; from the world-renowned Malika Ndlovu, to the engineer and award-winning Nosipho Gumede; from the formidable foursome Feela Sistah, to feminist literary scholars V.M. Sisi Maqagi and Barbara Boswell. The collective contributions are a testimony to the power of creativity and centrality of poetry in a changing society. This book is an assertion of Black women’s intellectual prowess and – as Gabeba Baderoon puts it – black women’s visions of ‘a world made whole by their presence’.

Part I: Perspectives
Chapter 1 Black Women Poets and Their Books as Contributions to the Agenda of Feminism
Chapter 2 ‘Leaping from behind History’s Curtain’: Post-apartheid Black Women’s Poetry in South Africa
Chapter 3 Reclaiming Sex and Queering the Word: Black South African Women’s Poetry on Sexuality
Chapter 4 The Mother Tongue and the Poet
Part II: Journeys
Chapter 5 Feela Sistah! and the Power of Women’s Spoken Word
Chapter 6 On Being a Closet Poet-Writer
Chapter 7 Searching for Women Like Me: Coloured Identity, Afrikaans, Poetry and Performance
Chapter 8 Voices in the Mirror: Poetry as a Tool for Social Change
Chapter 9 The Feminine Voices That Pulled me out the Closet
Chapter 10 ‘There is Another World and it is in This One’
Chapter 11 Poetry, Film and Me
Chapter 12 Playing with Shadows: Finding Poetic Language through Theatre and Life
Chapter 13 Making Poetry Live in Different Spaces
Chapter 14 Jozi House of Poetry: Creating a Safe Space for Poetry
Part III: Conversations
Chapter 15 Playing a Harmonica, Singing a Song and Reading a Poem for Sarah Baartman
Chapter 16 ‘Surely This [Mother Tongue] Should Count for Something’: Interviews with Five Contemporary Poets from Gauteng
Chapter 17 Poetry Hits Our Radios: Poetry in the Air
Chapter 18 Owning and Controlling the Mechanisms behind the Art: The Story of Word N Sound
Chapter 19 ‘Silence Makes This Possible’
Chapter 20 ‘No Stereotypes of Women’
Chapter 21 Dancing to a Lyrical Tune
Chapter 22 Meditating on Womanhood
Chapter 23 Poetry That Performs from the Page
Notes on Contributors