It's the tension between heavy and light.
Tomorrow night, I'm zooming as feature poet for Off The Wall poetry.
Hugh Hodge, who ran the Off The Wall poetry gig in Cape Town for many years, was the first person I remember to point me out publicly to myself, as poet. It was the Cape Town Book Fair 2006. He passed by me, accompanied, as it happened, by Liesl Jobson, whom I'd also never met. He pointed his finger -
"You're a poet," he said, "come and read."
It was a few seconds in my life. A moment like that weighs, because it's so beautifully light: in passing, people who don't know each other, a gesture, a voice. A shape for the future.
My first readings I was so nervous that my body trembled to the extent that I feared people would see my dress shivering off my wobbling bum. I did not know it was possible to read while shivering so. But it is possible. It happened - even while it may be unexplained that my voice did not falter at all.
I've gone through intense soul torment, be-thinking the reading tomorrow ... that is to say: I've more than a thousand poems to choose from. Where, how to begin, how to nose the spoor that will find just the right track?
I've decided I'll read the poem about my nose, the sense of smell. And the one about the ear, which prefigures it. I'll read them chronologically, as they came to me in a simple, wide-eyed living of life.
How will it go down? How many people will tune in? The hopeful poet from Ecuador, who contacted me at the Frankfurt Book Fair - will she make it? Will she read?
I am happy. The tick of the kitchen clock steps me on to tomorrow. Beside me, at the table, Jacaranda root tortoises are being painted by my beloved, his concentrated breathing is audible on my right; the high whizz of his laptop hums on my left. It's domestic chaos: contained within an overall picture of peace - notwithstanding the so-called news across the Atlantic, which so many are busy with right now.
I've selected from 40 years of continuous work. Nothing too heavy. I'd like to leave my listeners feeling hopeful about being alive on our precious little planet.
|List of titles for tomorrow night|
|The Snake's Song was published in New Contrast|
|Lines of our Days and The Loving Body were published in New Coin|