Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gaborone Bed Book Launch!!!

Thursday 23rd of September, we launched The Bed Book of Short Stories at Mmabolao,The House of Beds, in Gaborone.

Our MC for the evening was Botswana's most celebrated poet- TJ Dema.

That's me (above) selling books, which we did quite a bit of that night. (yeah!)

Aamina Khan (right front) manager of Mmabolao and Deborah Morgan (right back) director of Mmabolao, listening attentively. They were both great!

Zimbabwean writer Novuyo Rosa Tshuma came all the way from Johannesburg where she is studying, to read us an excerpt from her story "In Bed with Ikeji". This is her third bed launch attendance. Five stars for the lovely Novuyo!!

Below is Malawian Luso Mnthali (right) with a friend. She lives in Cape Town and we were lucky to have her in Gaborone. She read from her story "A Requiem for Daniel".

Dr. Leloba Molema from the University of Botswana (below) was our guest speaker and she did a fantastic job!

Our very own uber-talented Gothataone Moeng read from her story"Lie Still Heart: Scenes from a Girlhood Devoured".

Some of the guests among the beds.

We had a FANTASTIC time!
Thanks everyone!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My New Love

I came to writing because of my love of books, I wanted to be more a part of them. My love of books leads to my other affliction- my love of owning books. I want to have all of them. I am greedy beyond measure. Because of this, bookshelves are always a problem. Thankfully I found a new carpenter and he has made me the best new bookshelves. I'm so enamoured with these shelves I can barely look away from them. The best part about them is that they have so much space! Space for more books- yeah!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lazy Writing

This is actually my column from The Voice two weeks ago but for some reason it didn't go up online so I thought I'd put it here.

I was recently at a poetry reading. People who know me know I love good performance poetry. I cry at good performance poetry. I’m moved, I babble on about it for days. It sits in my mind, bits of it taking up permanent residence. At bad poetry performances I look engaged but am, in fact, either ticking off things I need to do the next day or preparing a mental grocery list. My tolerance level seems to have lowered as of late, though, and on this night in question I didn’t even pretend to be engaged. I was bored -but more than that I was furious.

I’m sick to death of lazy writers or all sorts, poets are just more on my mind as I write this but prose writers should consider themselves warned. For poets, if you have “African queen” or African princess” in your poem I’m talking to you. Yesterday I watched a little girl on My African Dream reciting a poem about how she was “an African child” and I thought shame on you lazy adult poets teaching this young girl that stating the obvious accounts as poetry nowadays. That lazy, clich├ęd writing is okay- it is not.

The words in a poem should be fresh- and please note, this does not mean pulling out your Roget’s and finding as many rhyming, seven letter words as you can and then stringing them in a line and spitting them out in an angry voice while standing in front of the audience very proud of yourself, the audience clapping only because they’re being polite. No one understands anything because what the poet just recited was unintelligible, to the poet as well as anyone forced to be the recipient of it. That’s not poetry- no matter what pretty clothes you put on it.

I will admit I’m not a poet, but I am a word user. I know that writers must respect words if they are to be any good. If you want to stand before us and tell us your mother is an Africa queen, please don’t call yourself a poet. Don’t disrespect poets so blatantly by doing that. A poet struggles and fights with words to find the exact image she wants to create. She will not use old, saggy, overused phrases just to get to the end. She will not use flashy words that leave everyone lost. She wants to carry the listener or the reader to a place that she has created and then she says “Look”.

Good poetry is fresh. The words crackle in the air and hush all thoughts that try to invade its stage. When silence comes and the words are finished the images and their echoes reverberate through the ether tickling at the audience members’ minds forcing them to think. Nobody thinks when the African queen takes centre stage, believe me.

Please folks, I beg of you, if we are to make any progress, let’s respect the words. Let’s work at our art. Laziness has no place in writing.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Bed Launch for Botswana!!

I have been absent from my blog because my blog is not behaving. I can only write. I can't do anything that needs a pop up window, like add the invite for this launch. When I press the button I get a blank page. If anyone knows how to sort this out I'd be thankful for any help. I have a feeling it is a problem in my computer and will see the compute guy on the weekend.

In the meanwhile I want to invite you to another launch for The Bed Book of Short Stories that I helped compile. What has been so lovely about this book is that the contributors have taken it on to launch the book wherever they are. First there was the main launch at the Franschoek Literary Festival in South Africa. Then our contributor from Namibia organised a launch in Windhoek. Then there was the Joburg launch which I was blessed to be able to attend. There was a launch in Cape Town a few weeks ago where everyone wore pajamas. Tonight there is a launch in Centurion organised by the vivacious Rita Britz. And then next Thursday is ours in Gaborone.

The contributors present will include Gothataone Moeng, Luso Mnthali and myself. The MC for the evening is our TJ Dema and the guest speaker is Dr. Leloba Molema from the University of Botswana English Department. Please if you're in Gabs we would love for you to pop by!

When? Thursday 23 September
Where? Mmabolao, Westgate Mall Gaborone
Time? 5:30 - 8 pm

Books will be on sale!!


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut

An odd coincidence occurred. I finished In a Strange Room in the early hours of yesterday staying up far too late reading because I could not put it down and then yesterday that very book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. My hope is it will go on to win it in October.

I love Damon Galgut's writing but In a Strange Room is something quite special. It is about travelling. It's divided into three sections: The Follower, The Lover and The Guardian. I listened to Galgut speak about the book at the Cape Town Book Fair this year. He was interviewed by Ben Williams of SA Books. Ben asked him if the book was fiction or memoir since the traveller in the book is called Damon. Galgut admitted that he took these trips and he had these experiences but still it is classified as a novel. It is up to the reader to see what to make of it.

In the same interview, he spoke about the reasons behind sometimes writing in first person, sometimes third, even drifting into second. It happens seamlessly in the book, it seems correct and right. He explained that it is how we think when we think about memories. Sometimes we are there, we are in first person. Sometimes we watch the characters play out the scene, third person. He wanted to be true to the memories. I find this fascinating.

Galgut's writing is simple and his unflinching pursuit of the truth in each sentence laser accurate. He writes with no fluff. He is not here to impress anyone. He knows his purpose and I feel it is an internal push driven by an intellect that will not rest on platitudes. He wants to know what it means, what this all means, the core truth in this living in the relationships between people.

The Damon in the book feels compelled to travel, but it is not a jolly, holiday by the sea kind of travelling. It is something else for him. Of late I have wanted to travel alone. I think as a married woman with a family I've become very insulated from the world, always safe in my group. And so I travel alone, though I don't particularly like it, I do it because it forces me to feel things with no cushion around me. I like to force myself into awkward scary situations where I will feel lost so as to feel vulnerable. I think in that place things are often clearer since the fear magnifies the senses. When I read the passage below I was gobsmacked by its resonance. There are many of these in the book.

The truth is he is not a traveller by nature, it is a state that has been forced on him by circumstances. he spends most of his time on the move in acute anxiety, which makes everything heightened and vivid. Life becomes a series of tiny threatening details, he feels no connection with anything around him, he's constantly afraid of dying. As a result he is hardly ever happy in the place where he is, something in him is already moving forward to the next place, and yet he is also never going towards something, but always away, away. This is a defect in his nature that travel has turned into a condition.

I read a lot of books. Some stick ,some fly away, and others change me. This one changed me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Distraction of Fresh Tomatoes

My blog is being sadly neglected and I apologise. As part of my apology I am giving you this lovely photo of the tomatoes I just now hunted from our garden. It is like hunting a bit, and one of my favourite things about gardening. Searching in the spicy green leaves to find the little red jewels. Then picking and assessing what you got.

So why have I been so thoroughly neglectful of my lovely little blog?

1. It is the beginning of summer.

This needs no explanation.

2. I am stuck in up to my elbows with my latest work in progress.
I have four months to wallow in my fiction. The first project for that time is a new novel which is a prequel to a novel I've been fighting with for about four years. I gave it to an editor friend of mine who gave me some sterling ideas about how to get it in shape. It was a thriller but my friend thought my cop and his friend seemed destined for a series and suggested I re-work the book into a detective novel. I've done a detective series before, my Kate Gomolemo series that includes The Fatal Payout and Murder for Profit, so this was something I was familiar with and decided to give it a go. BUT then something happened. I read a book, recently published, that is very similar to this book I'd been struggling with for four years and if I changed it to a detective novel it would be even more similar. So I decided to have my cop and his friend meet in a book before that one- which is the book I'm currently working on- and then after I finish this one I will go back to the first one which is now really the second one. Understand?

3. I've been reading lots of fabulous books.
These I intend to blog about soon.

4. I signed two contracts for two new books and I sent one of my wallflower novels out to a few agents.
One contract is for the third book in my Detective Kate Gomolemo series which will be published by Vivlia Publishers in South Africa. The second book is also to be published by Vivlia and is a children's historical mystery (is there such a genre? ). I also sent out queries to some agents in America for my novel Claudia Lanchaster's Adventures in Love, a young adult romance. I have had one response so far and they asked to see the entire novel, so cross fingers!

So those are really the main reasons I'm neglecting my blog. But I will try to be better. In the meantime enjoy the tomatoes because I'm intending to eat a fair share of them for lunch and they will soon be finished.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Growing Up in Africa

I happened upon this blog thanks to Deborah Ahenkorah from the Baobab Prize.

It is a series from Africans around the continent about their childhood. Africa as seen through non-African eyes is often all about sadness- starvation, poverty, disease. But that's not Africa, or at least that is just a slice of Africa. Africa is about family. It's about friends and culture and rich languages. Food and school. It's about kids not getting their parents and then growing up and suddenly understanding. It's about values and standards. It's about love and sadness. It's multidimensional and fascinating.

I love love love this blog! It is just what we need. Do yourself a favour and pass by.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And the Winner is...

The winner of a signed copy of my latest romance novella, Can He Be The One?, is Catarina!!

So Catarina, drop me an email at and send me your postal address so I can send you your book.

Congratulations!! And thanks to everyone who left a comment.