Welcome to New Coin for June 2014, the first issue I am putting out as its new editor.
When I started subscribing to New Coin in the early 1990s, the journal, then under of the editorship of Robert Berold, was regarded by the South African poetry community as essential reading. I, for one, first encountered the work of poets such as Kelwyn Sole, Karen Press, Mxolisi Nyezwa, Vonani Bila, Lesego Rampolokeng and Alan Finlay in its pages. It was exciting, vibrant and at the cutting edge of what was happening in South African poetry. My aim as editor of New Coin is to continue, and build on, that tradition. I want New Coin to offer its readers quality work and I want it to play a vital role in the contemporary poetry discourse in South Africa, and even beyond.
I am attracted to poems that make me feel deeply. It's that emotional connection that endears a poem to me. If it is crafted in such a manner that I want to read the words over and over, then I start falling in love with the poem. A pleasant surprise, often in the word combinations and images, always makes me smile. When a poem's lines repeat in my head long afterwards, then that poem has really succeeded, because I can't memorise even my own poems. Like Colleen Higgs, who judged last year's DALRO prizes, I prefer shorter poems. If a poem must be long then it needs to have something to hold it together - it has to be artistically crafted to hold my attention, grab my emotion and still read beautifully.
Alan Finlay : voices, breaking
Kobus Moolman : Landscape with Woman and Rocks; Questions
Sinclair Beiles : 'In our town they make no distinction...'; As he had no oil to stop...'
Lucas Zulu : For you
Arja Salafranca : There are intimacies beyond touch; The way; Before the day begins
Moira Lovell : Operating Theatre; Mealie man; Autumn Passing
Eva Jackson : Durban CBD; Alone in Pidurangala
Dawn Garisch : littoral zone
Goodenough Mashego : III; 2nd page of my journal
Kyle Allan : My story; Aquarius solitudes
Haidee Kruger : Envelope; Spiderweb
Yannis Livadas : My bones in the soup of my grave
Gerard Rudolf : Last Days of the Comeback Kid; Roberto Bolaño (Undead) in Joburg
Khulile Nxumalo : Black Roses; with help from all o' ma peeps
Mangaliso Buzani : From: a naked bone
Mxolisi Nyezwa : One way out; There is no subliminal
Immanuel Suttner : Identity theft
Hans Pienaar : Diary of a crime reporter
Catfish McDaris : Nightmare on the Way to Paris
Anton Krueger : The programmable bride
Diana Bloem : Ice
John Carse : Bareback
Mick Raubenheimer & Louise Anne Buchler : Tryst; Alchemy; Crashing
Lionel Murcott : Anticlock; Stones; Suitcase
Gail Dendy : Silence in the Room; Man attempts drowning off Umhlanga, right in front of me
Jim Pascual Agustin : Broken Watch
Angifi Dladla : Something the dead know; When I'm gone
Carol Leff : Shackled in Settlers' Hospital
Mzi Mahola : The Old Age Centre; Divine Intervention
Allan Kolski Horwitz : Dagga smoking on Robben Island; Infestation; Under an Open Sky
Vonani Bila : Baloyi's art gallery; What she wore that day; Durbs occasion
Stephen Symons : Imagining snow; This is a country
Left Over is Kobus Moolman's fifth collection of poetry. His voice is now well-known inside and outside of South Africa, as the growing collection of prizes and favourable comments attest. One of the reasons for this is that his work shows a consistent and powerful inclination to explore new ground, in both form and content. In a recent interview on the website SLiPnet, he speaks of his writing process as requiring "attentiveness. Attending to, being alert to, several, many things at the same time. ... the world around me. The observable world. The world of nouns. ... also being alert to the inner .... what? Not inner world. ... But something that suggests activity, action, happening, movement. The inner movements." (Chantelle Gray van Heerden: 'Where a poem can live - an interview with Kobus Moolman' SLiPnet, posted 6 November 2013). His poems, he adds, exist on a 'quantum' level, with several different levels at play simultaneously.
Ari Sitas's Rough Music selects poetry from eight published volumes and one volume still "under construction", the poetry spanning the twenty-five years from 1989 when he debuted with Tropical Scars. It is a valuable book, providing a good review of the poetry of one of the few prolific poets of South Africa. In a literary context where poetry disappears from the radar the minute it appears - scant attention in fewer and fewer reviews - Deep South should be lauded for producing a book which reacquaints the reader already familiar with Sitas's work and which will introduce, one hopes, younger readers and aspirant poets to one of South Africa's most vibrant poets. The historical view such a selection provides of Sitas's writing also gives the lie to johnny-come-lately writers and critics' claims that the literature of late-apartheid is an archive of monotone protest.
Khulile Nxumalo's second collection of poems provides the reason why his first collection, ten flapping elbows, mama (Deep South, 2004) was such a welcome surprise on the literary scene. In this newest collection he expands his prodigious talent, coming out in Part I of the collection with a mixture of narrative style, relying primarily on the oral traditional modes of incarnation and evocation. The first poem in the collection, 'malebo & prologue' is intriguing for someone well-versed in South African languages primarily, but also in the varieties of township slang, popular culture and songs by groups such as Mahlatini and the Mahotella Queens. The poem evolves into an invocation of salutations mainly to family members, friends and fellow poets and a bow to fellow alternative cultural groups such as 'the chimurenga people'. It is an intriguing admixture of people, friends and phenomena with no discernible narrative strand at all. And yet, for reasons best known to the human mind, it has resonance.