Thursday, July 31st, 2014

James Matthews being James Matthews

The film, Diaries of a Dissident Poet, follows poet James Matthews around Cape Town, tracking him during a year, from his 83rd to 84th birthday. It opens with a small celebration of his 83rd at the District Six Homecoming Centre in (downtown Cape Town) and moves on to scenes of him in conversation or banter with

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Lesego Rampolokeng’s Elegy To Robo The Technician

“Raise your hand up if you’re a hip-hop head” said Lesego Rampolokeng, rallying a house full of poets at a gathering in Melville on a wet Sunday afternoon in 2013. I put mine up, as did a few...

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

“This is not only Ghana’s loss” — Ato Quayson remembers Kofi Awoonor (1935-2013)

I first met Kofi Awoonor (who died this weekend in the terror attack in Nairobi, Kenya) as an excitable 17-year-old high school student then in the Sixth Form. We had been set Awoonor’s This Earth, My Brother...

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Post-Script: Germany’s Colonial Legacy

The recent controversy around Günter Grass’s criticisms of Germany’s arms trade with Israel is an interesting post-script to the Namibian genocide controversy. The Nobel prize-winning author has written a poem – called ‘What needs to be said’ – which...

Monday, April 9th, 2012

‘Restless City’ at the 19th New York African Film Festival

Towards the final scenes of Restless City, Jessye Norman’s solo soprano voice scales the great buildings and the conveyor belts of vehicles, between all of which a small red scooter navigates, carrying the slim bodies of Djibril...

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

The Party is not The Nation

From that same interview that I have been so liberally cutting and pasting from this week—in Comparative Literature–the Communist poet and intellectual, Jeremy Cronin, talks about the conundrum for black intellectuals after the end of Apartheid: …...

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011


More from that 2008 Comparative Literature interview with my favorite Communist poet, Jeremy Cronin. Bua Komanisi: … A sense of audience has always been important for me. When I write a poem, or when I go back...

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Slipping into individualistic comfort

The daily word of inspiration (cut and pasted from Contemporary Literature) from my favorite, comtemporary Communist, Jeremy Cronin: … At present I am inclined to make my poems much more actively disruptive within themselves, to foreground contradiction...

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Fascism and Aesthetics

Jeremy Cronin is my favorite Communist. Astute, intellectual and a poet. Cronin is a former political prisoner and now ANC member of Parliament in South Africa. “Even the Dead” is still my favorite poem. I recently chanced...

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Jeffrey Wright Reads Walt Whitman

This is from a minute ago, but I had to post it as it features part of my neighborhood. Wright, actor and unassuming Fort Greene, Brooklyn, resident (that’s also my neighborhood) reads his favorite Walt Whitman poem...

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Sleeping Dogs

Recently my man Lee Ursus introduced me to the Afrikaans poetry of Ronelda S. Kamfer. Born in 1981, Kamfer’s poetry reflects her split upbringing on a farm and in coloured townships in Cape Town. This poem, “Noudat...

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Ingrid Jonker on Film

Jacob Boersema, a Dutch PhD student who works on Afrikaner identity in postapartheid South Africa, recently told me about a new film, “Black Butterflies,” about the life of Ingrid Jonker, the late Afrikaans poet (she committed suicide...

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009


English-Somali poet, Warsar Shire‘s poem “The letter my mother would have written had she known English.” Damn. Via: Aryan Kaganoff

Friday, October 9th, 2009


Friday, September 11th, 2009


If you’re in Washington D.C: African poets Patricia Jabbeh Wesley and Gabeba Baderoon will give a joint reading at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art on September 19 as part of the annual Fall for the...

Thursday, August 20th, 2009


Jazz-poem performed by UpsurgeJazz‘s Raymond Nat Turner on the history of beer in America, including a certain beer summit at the White House.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Zimbabwe’s “Freedom Train”

The worlds (and then the video) of Zimbabwean hip hop and spoken word artist, Outspoken, delivering his piece “Freedom Train.” Still inside the station waiting on the freedom train Its inspector came to check on our tickets,...