Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Trip to Maun

I had a lovely trip to Maun. I stayed with my friend Jenny Robson, a very famous children's writer from South Africa. The photo below is of a full Thamalakane River which is the view off Jenny's veranda. A bit of heaven!

Jenny teaches standard 2 and music at the Okavango International School. I spent Friday there reading some of my stories to the children and teaching them about the trumpet. Jenny and I played together, she on piano, me on trumpet, for their school assembly as well.

Sadly this "Keep Botswana Clean" dustbin is located along the Rakops- Maun road at one of the rest areas. Not a very good advert for tourists to see.

I also took this photo along the way. This is on the bridge over the Boteti River between Xhumo and Mopipi. It's been quite some time that the Boteti has flowed this far south. Apparently there is still more water on the way from Angola.

Friday evening I ran a narrative writing workshop with another writing friend and Maun resident, Bontekanye Botumile, for the poets participating in the Maun International Poetry Festival. It was a lot of fun.

On Saturday night the main event of the festival took place. There were twenty poets performing from all over Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and America. It was a great event. The highlights of the evening for me were Clinton Smith, Andreattah Chuma, TJ Dema, Outspoken, Dredd X, Priskath, Upmost-My BruthazKeepa and Zwesh Fi Kush.

They want the event to be an annual one and I hope their dream comes true.

One of my favourite poems of the night was from American born, South Africa living, Clinton Smith. Here is a video of him performing it elsewhere, enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Connection Poem

Only today I found this wonderful thing, I was shown where to find it by someone on Facebook. Stellenbosch Literary Project is running a poetry workshop led by Finuala Dowling. I wrote about her fantastic poetry book, Difficult to Explain, some time ago here and have been very jealous that I would never get to attend one of her workshops by the sea. No need to be jealous any longer.

I only found the online workshop today and realised it is too late to send her my connection poem, this month's assignment. So instead, in honour of my trip up north to Maun for the International Poetry Festival, I am posting my poem here.
Hope you like it! See you next week when I get back unless you're heading for Maun too!


I Have a Small Dog, Like Paris Hilton

I have a small dog

Like Paris Hilton.

It doesn’t look like her

Or even like her dog.

Mine is stocky

And would never sit in a purse.

She’s not like that

My dog.

She likes to run after weasels

And bark at small children

And see them burst from the gate in fright.

She likes to smother her body in cow dung.

Paris Hilton wouldn’t like that.

Mine wouldn’t accept a name like


She would turn her head away in

Disgust and embarrassment

With me.

Paris Hilton’s dog is very like

Paris Hilton.

I guess my dog is

Very like me.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Beautiful Designs

Some time ago I posted about the handmade books I made for a pay it forward exercise. When I was in London I already knew I needed to be thinking about what to make when I came upon these watercolour paints at The National Portrait Museum.

I like the way they've grouped the colours on each disk. I often look at them and wonder why they thought light brown needed to be with yellow while dark brown was grouped with green. Maybe they were making disk palettes according to environments. The yellow disk looks like the rocky hills of the Namib Desert to me, while the green is the white pine forests of northern Wisconsin. The blue disk the ocean, the deeper down you go the darker the colour until it goes black.

These paints are most lovely because of the clever way the disks stack together and lock in place.

I'm not often enthralled by objects but I certainly am by this one.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Good News For Writers- We Will Not Go Extinct

Yeah, I said it. Agents might go extinct. Booksellers might too. Even publishers. But writers- nope. It is just not going to happen. Look at all of the words, all of the sentences. They're everywhere. They didn't get their by magic. A writer put them there. In your book, on your website, in the video game, on your Kindle.

I'm sick to death of all the bad news when in fact we should be jumping up and down. We have been the powerless victims (I say this as I wait for my royalty payment from a traditional publisher which is, as I write this, two days late as per the deadline in the contract) and suddenly the publishing industry is changing in our favour and people are saying we're about to die?? I don't get it. What is it some sort of Stockholm Syndrome for writers?

Come on guys! Now is the time to step up. Opportunities and ways to publish are myriad, more than every before. You have options galore. Good writers are needed, desperately. Why are we all so depressed? Why do we keep looking at the sky waiting for it to fall?

I think Margaret Atwood makes some fantastic points in the video. We're the dead moose. The dead moose will always be needed. So have no fear! Viva the Dead Moose!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Maun International Poetry Festival

Performance poetry is taking Botswana by storm and if you are a fan like I am then on the 26th of March all your roads will lead you to Maun for the inaugural Maun International Poetry Festival 2011. Zimbabwean poets Outspoken and Upmost and South Africans Zwesh Fi Kush, Flo, and Vallentine will be part of the star-studded line-up. Local poets performing at the event include Andreattah Chuma, Ntirelang Berman, TJ Dema, Phegal, Vygos, Juby Peacock, Mandisa Mabuthoe, Berry Heart, Dredd X, Mista Poke, Priskath, Ngwao Putswa, Mmakagri Dabutha, Messenger, Poko Ya Setso, King Philosopher, Swankies, and Tautona.

The event will be taking place at The Boma, Maun Lodge. The Festival starts with a pre-show on Saturday morning at 10 am which will include some of the poets that will be performing in the main show later on in the day as well as young poets from schools in the Maun area. Tickets for the pre-show are going for P50. The main event will be Saturday evening with tickets going at P150. Tickets in Maun are available at Maun Lodge or call 72947614 or 74404968. In Gaborone, call 72393149 and Francistown, call 72438017.

The event, which organisers hope will become an annual celebration of poetry, is being organised by the Maun based poetry group Poetavango Spoken Word Poetry. For the pre-show they had assistance in the organisation from Women Against Rape. The main funders of the event are the Department of Arts and Culture and Barclays Bank. Other organisations that gave assistance are Maun Lodge, Women Against Rape, Yarona FM, Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (NCONGO), and Maun Brand.

In conjunction with the Festival, I will be conducting a writing workshop on Friday evening from 7:30 pm at the same venue. The workshop will be on narrative writing but will also include the marketing of poems and short stories and a discussion about the current climate for these genres in Botswana.

Hope to see lots of people there!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Talk in London is Online!!

Last month I spoke at The London School of Economics (LSE)'s Space for Thought Literary Conference. The link to the podcast is here.

Let me know what you think, thanks!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Celebrate International Read an Ebook Week by Buying The Bed Book of Short Stories!

The Bed Book of Short Stories, edited by Joanne Hichens and compiled by me, is now available as an ebook!! Buy it here as well as many other places. What a great way to celebrate International Read an Ebook Week by buying this collection of short stories from women in Southern Africa around the cosy theme of bed and curling up for a great read!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My World Book Day

I didn't know it was World Book Day until just now because I had spent the entire day making books! I made books containing two of my flash fiction stories for a pay it forward activity. I took quick photos before I send them off to their owners.

What a nice way to love a book! And now to celebrate the day thoroughly I am knocking off early and spending the rest of the afternoon reading a very funny book by Dawn French.

Happy World Book Day everyone!