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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category


Running a poetry magazine
is a lonely business
so we slip in the odd typo
so people will call us.
If only to complain.

Gus Ferguson

» read article

Culture Clash

Of all the things I truly fear,
this brings me out in hives:

Will the Cricket World Cup interfere
with “Days of our lives?”


» read article

Four from Carapace 82 – “Not Goodbye” by Akwe Amosu – and Carapace 83

Carapace 82 - Akwe Amosu's Not Goodbye
Artwork by David Coetzee

Carapace 82 is a stand-alone collection of poems by Akwe Amosu entitled “Not Goodbye”. It is published as part of the Carapace Poets Series. Amosu was born in London but moved to Nigeria as a small child. She now works as a policy advocate for the Open Society Institute on issues such as human rights, governance and accountability in Africa. “Not Goodbye” is her debut.

Four from “Not Goodbye” by Akwe Amosu

Maputo peace talks

The hotel dining room was sunny,
the clatter of crockery friendly,
our smiles swinging about the room were
bright parakeets, swooping table to table,
we all knew we were on the right track.
The General was eating eggs and bacon,
our friend named for the French emperor
was laying out a strategy for disarming
Liberia’s fighters and I was at ease
when you passed and reached out
an arm, drawing me to your cheek
then striding on in one swift manoeuvre,
my smile perched on your shoulder
and yours, slipping under my jacket
to peck gently at my breast.


Drought, Nigeria, 1980

No relief from the blank, fierce heat. High above,
a menacing harmattan wind reddened by dust,
drives orange clouds over a stormy horizon
but down here, the air is dry and still,
the mud setting hard and rough
around the vanishing pool.
The Fula’s skeletal cattle
on their forced march,
shudder off the flies,
patiently waiting
to keel over
one by one
onto hot


She should get on the train

She should get on the train
everyone else has said goodbye, separated
but she’s hanging back for one more minute
waiting for something, someone
to turn up, hoping for it.
The others are shouting
let’s go let’s go let’s go
but she doesn’t want to hear.
If whoever it is appeared, he would be
worth missing the train for
but the others know that
if anyone bursts onto the platform
he will be looking for someone else.
They’ve tried to tell her and they are
tugging on her coat, urgently
telling her the time,
that it will be very bad if she
misses the train but she’s shouting
let go let go let go
because she doesn’t like the train
she doesn’t want the journey
she doesn’t feel like leaving
and she doesn’t know
where we are going



Six weeks radiation in New York over,
we pack and head back down the Turnpike
in a keen red rental, an up and at ’em
sort of a car, four solid hours, no stops,
not bad, breasting 80 all the way while
always scanning for cops who probably
get a commission but they aren’t
hungry today: I am drained and dull
yet there’s something beautiful
about four lanes and a shifting clump of cars,
judgments made at injudicious speed
as we weave among the staid and those slow
on the uptake, trying to gain a few feet
here and there and nip briefly into the fast lane
just to show we can if we like; I’m so fed up
with the man in the middle trundling
along at 55 on a 65 stretch of highway
when the rest of us are in flow at 75
but he provokes me to remember
that scene in Solaris when the cars
drive themselves and I’m imagining
the humans around me brooding
while HAL takes the wheel,
when out of the corner of my eye
I see the blue guy has slyly
snuck his way to the front of the pack
by hugging the slow lane under cover
of the Mack truck, inconspicuous except
when he darts out to take a scalp
then slips back to skulk anew. I,
no suburban saloon but a scarlet hotrod
with its ass in the air, cannot do the same
disappearing trick but I’m sick of the
Florence Nightingale business and
admire his gall so I show that I belong
in his posse by cutting up the beige Subaru
who doesn’t seem to share our dizzy interest
in taking chances, this past ten miles,
north of the Delaware bridge, now with
only two lanes and two dependents,
one dying, to dice with.

Purchase “Not Goodbye” at Scribd

Carapace 82: “Not Goodbye” Poems by Akwe Amosu

~ ~ ~

Carapace 83
Artwork by Greg Kerr

Carapace 83


Dear subscribers and fellow travellers, this is the final edition of Carapace 2010.

We are delighted that we are still afloat and hope to continue publishing for some time yet.

Very best wishes for the all-embracing Festive Season. Relax! chill! return refreshed and ravenous for poetry.

Remember a subscription to Carapace makes a wonderful and harmless gift.

Thank you to Barbara Fairhead and Jacques Coetzee for their generous gift in support of the magazine.

Congratulations to Finuala Dowling on winning the 2010 Olive Schreiner award and to Tania van Schalkwyk for winning the Ingrid Jonker prize.

Gus Ferguson
Writer in Residence

Contributors to Carapace 83

Candy Neubert, Malika Ndlovu, Gordon Stuart, Finuala Dowling, Mike Alfred, Gus Ferguson, Pam Newham, Egon Boome, Michael Cope, Mari Pete, Janice Warman, Dawn Garisch, Walter Saunders, Carla Kreuser, Lise Day, Medzani Musandiwa, Yvette Morey, Brown Cow, Beverly Rycroft, Tim Volem, Lionel Murcott, Mangaliso W Buzani, Sarah Rowland Jones, Suzanne Leighton

Four from Carapace 83


In a restaurant (Greek)
she sits a few checked
tablecloths away.
All movement, she
uses hair and hands
to make a point.
There’s a man
on either side.
One leaning close
listening to what
she has to say.
The other reaches
for an olive
and looks away.

Pam Newham


Invitation to a Duel

Egon Boome, a rhyming Fool
Invites great Eyeball to a duel –

Be it villanelle or couplet,
Ode or best grilled cutlet –

If verse be food and wit be salt,
Let foaming pictures be the malt!

All forms of grace will be contested
And let the loser die intestate.

Egon Boome


My contributions to world peace

I don’t
give paper cuts to work colleagues who can’t spell
own a yapping maltese or a midnight fighting cat
drink more than three tequilas on any given party night
      (although sometimes I forget)
read my friends’ books in the bath
mess cookie crumbs on our bed anymore
visit no-cell phone-reception areas
      (without letting my mom know in advance)

Carla Kreuser


from the river bank

at the bottom of every
flowing body of water
lies a series of sequential
clouded, in a manner of speaking,
by transparency –
the stream eternally (rippling and) conscious
of the sedimentary construct
to follow;

and how oblivious most are,
to how reality
lies with these
loosely aligned pebbles,
essentially pinned
to obscurity

Medzani Musandiwa

Purchase Carapace 83 at Scribd

Carapace 83

» read article

On martyrdom: a poem

Read it slowly.


Each time you crush a snail
its eggs are splattered far and wide
to multiply the species.

– Gus

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Launch of Akwe Amuso’s Not Goodbye at Kalk Bay Books

Not Goodbye: PoemsKalk Bay Books and Carapace Poets cordially invite you to the launch of Not Goodbye, a poetry collection by Akwe Amosu – a rich reflection on the poet’s personal landscapes, and her meditations on the African experience.

In this, her first collection, Amosu meditates on a rich range of experiences in Africa and elsewhere, and on the joys and sorrows of attachment. She reflects on the landscapes of chosen exile, on political commitment, on the burdens of loss and on the silences of her dead. Family and daily life and the rituals of friendship, love and grief are transfigured in language that alternates between sharp analysis, lyrical precision and lamentation. Her poetic forms are sinewy and mobile, and images can move with startling speed from delicate invocation to urgent assertion. ‘Come back. Or, I beg you, go on ahead’, she entreats in ‘Postcard to Wolvercote Cemetery’, which seeks to remind us, as her other poems also do, of the tasks of living – and dying – and the world of in-between.

We look forward to welcoming you in Kalk Bay:

Event Details

  • Date: Sunday, 07 November 2010
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Kalk Bay Books, Majestic Village
    124 Main Road
    (Opposite Cape to Cuba restaurant)
    Kalk Bay | Map
  • Refreshments: wine and snacks
  • RSVP: Mary-Anne,, 021 788 2266

About the Author

Akwe Amosu, half Nigerian and half British, was born at Hyde Park Corner in London but moved to Nigeria as a small child. She studied at Sussex University in the United Kingdom and then worked for news organizations including the BBC and as a reporter, radio host and editor, covering African stories. She has lived and worked in South Africa and other African countries as well as in the UK. After a brief period with the UN in Ethiopia, she settled in Washington DC in 2006 where she works as a policy advocate for the Open Society Institute on issues such as human rights, governance and accountability in Africa.

Book Details

» read article

Three from Carapace 81

Carapace 81

Our next Carapace # 82 issue is devoted to the poetry of Akwe Amosu.

We are deeply grateful to reader and contributor, Nancy O’Flynn, for a very generous gift which will help to keep the price of Carapace down.

Currently Carapace is labouring under a back log of submissions. We hope to clear this by the end of the year. This is just an apology in advance to those of you who might have their work delayed.

Gus Ferguson

Cover art by Derek Jacobs: ‘Cedarburghers’. Charcoal on Fabriano.

Contributors to Carapace 81

Kay Brown, Mangaliso W Buzani, Sue Clark, Michael Cope, Patrick Cullinan, Finuala Dowling, Dawn Garisch, Damian Garside, Abigail George, Keith Gottschalk, Rosemund Handler, Simone Haysom, Colleen Higgs, Rob Homen, Mike Kantey, Siddiq Khan, Adré Marshall, Barbara Meyerowitz, Mandy Mitchell, Tshifhiwa Given, Mukwevho, Tolu Ogunlesi, Walter Saunders, John Simon, Jack Spruce, Clare van der Gaast, Lucas Zulu

Three from Carapace 81


he wanted to
rub a piece of skin against a piece of skin.
he paid the tariff.
there was a surcharge.
the sex worker also
stole his cellphone.

Keith Gottschalk


The Book

all the world’s a page
torn out of a book
by Someone who thought
this page doesn’t belong
here, and got angry
at being cheated.
the book will sit there
in a cosmic rain
bleeding slowly
from where the page
was torn off,
now somehow complete,
now a better story
in the final analysis

Tolu Ogunlesi


Ode to a Fartingale

‘Ekphrastic’ is the kind of word
I would cut dead
if I saw it walking in the street
with a bowl of fruit
on its head

It was spat out like a pip
at a dinner do
by a puffed-up woman
who wrote poetry
but didn’t have a clue

about the feel of a Poem,
and another Work of Art,
dancing cheek to cheek
She wanted just to expel
a BIG word like a fart

I said I could never wrap
around my tongue
such a frightful word
without breaking a tooth
or puncturing a lung

But she flicked it across the table
like a crumb
from her great loaf
of intellectuality
untasted by the dumb

Clare van der Gaast

Preview & purchase this issue

Carapace 81

» read article

Four from Carapace 79 and 80

Carapace 79Carapace 80

Thumbsuck research indicates that 93.7% of readers of this
magazine are fanatically fussy about their coffee. The drawing by Derek Jacobs on page 10 of our eightieth issue celebrates this.

In order to give full attention to keeping Carapace alive I am going to drop the Slug Award. It had a nice run and it was fun to do but has now run its course. A belated thanks to sponsors, Clarke’s Bookshop and Kyron Laboratories for their support. We will however keep the Carapace Competitions going.

Enjoy these selections from our two most recent issues.

Gus Ferguson

~ ~ ~

Contributors to Carapace 79

Mike Alfred, Michael Augustin, Robert Edward Bolton, Jeremy Boraine, Melissa Butler, Mangaliso W Buzani, Stewart Conn, Gail Dendy, Gus Ferguson, Eliza Galgut, D Gruebel-Lee, Kerry Hammerton, Hugh Hodge, Frank F Karinga, Liam Kruger, Clive Lawrance, Dugal MacDonald, Chris Mann, Mandy Mitchell, Helen Moffett, Medzani Musandiwa, Marcelle Olivier, Douglas Reid Skinner, Damian Shaw, Elizabeth Trew, Richard Shavei Tzion, Clare van der Gaast, Maria Ventolini

Cover art by Ann Walton

Two from the issue


The joyful splatter of the storm’s first raindrops
Erupt against the concrete at the girl’s shoe,
Like too many first kisses. She breathes, then stops
To open her umbrella, and find something dry to do.

– Liam Kruger



There is something I like
about standing in a cornfield,
or the image of it at least;
perhaps it is the image of lovers
running towards one another
in a cornfield that inspires this,
I don’t know,
all I know is that I want to be standing
in a cornfield, alone, with a kind, cool
breeze splashing my face;

but now that I think of it,
why would I want to be
alone in this cornfield?

– Medzani Musandiwa

~ ~ ~

Contributors to Carapace 80

Jane Abrahams, Michael Augustin, Melissa Butler, Mangaliso W Buzani, Ingrid de Kok, Gail Dendy, Finuala Dowling, Jonty Driver, Basil du Toit, Gus Ferguson, Justin Fox, Sarah Frost, Damian Garside, Abigail George, Rosamund Handler, Zama Madinana, Adré Marshall, Lionel Murcott, Oliver Price, Heather Tibshraeny, Clare van der Gaast, Alessio Zanelli

Cover art by Derek Jacobs

Two from the issue


When she needs to leave,
she goes.

Not like the wind
or anything like that.
More like an unraveling
of thread on a tweed coat,
slowly over time
almost unnoticed.

Even she does not notice
when she goes, only realizes
when she finds herself
someplace else. When her feet
touch a ground unfamiliar,
when the air becomes oblique
against her breath.

Only then does she sit on a chair
or a bench to unwind
the path of her leaving,
to discover when
she must have felt the edge
that let her drift away.

– Melissa Butler



I swim to see sun settling, clear as feeling,
a snake skin on the pool floor.

Th e apartness of light
animates its pattern.

From under my curving arm
a skylight reveals a dream of water, blue.

If I reached down, there would be nothing to take
but the vision satisfi es like sleep, or movement.

– Sarah Frost

~ ~ ~

Preview the issues at Little White Bakkie

Carapace 79

~ ~ ~

Carapace 80

» read article

World Cup Haiku


World Cup Final 2010:
a good time
to invade Holland.


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Found poem: “Blatter”

from Chambers 20th Century Dictionary:


a clattering rainy blast
a clatter or torrent of words
to beat with clattering, like rain on a window
to prate, with sense probably modified by sound

See also: Vuvuzela

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Hereunder a true (almost) snapshot

In Cape Town

A Congolese car guard,
an optician in an earlier life,

meets an Australian tourist
who greets him with Molweni.

Such an easy diagnosis.

– Gus Ferguson

» read article