Zoe Boshoff & Sabitha Satchi: The first thing that struck most people, in reading Tropical Scars, your first book, was the intensity of your descriptions…the subtropical environment of Durban and its physicality, materiality, the ooziness of it all, very much like a Marquezian trope- everything pregnant with violence! For us and quite a few others its politics were secondary. For you?
Ari Sitas: I suppose it was a kind of release from the theatrical work we were doing- a poor people’s theatre with minimal props and no sets, where the body was everything and that material reality had to be gestured at. So, when late at night I would pen lines and the night was restless with cicadas and night-bats and the low clouds squeezing out sweat, the lines emerged without air-conditioning just with creaking ceiling fans. As I told Rob Berold ages ago there was also the sense of jazz-like sound going through my head, eruptions, solos… back to the theme, improvise, back to the theme. I was not trying to be a poet, I was writing something like poetry. This relation to nature and the ocean is stored deep, I don’t know where but it finds a way of attacking me.
ZB & SS: Death and violence are also stored deep, they walk with you throughout the work. To the latest, where by the Durban’s pier
After a day of stoning and gas
an ancient chore beckons
by the ocean’s lip –
a crowd heaving, heaving, sifting through the sand
A happy bulldozer resting
after eating up another row of shacks
its jaw nestling by a crab-hole
ZB & SS: Then your horrific Summer Love or your Marikana poem- we can spend a week proving a point.
AS: True, my poetry has been described as a dark passage to an unknown destination. I hesitate using the word “dark” for death though, you know Buddhists see “light”, Racist religiosity has ascribed dark and most certainly black as the antipode of the aesthetic. Death yes, I had buried many people in the 1980s and early 1990s who were cut down in the violence. The first two volumes were all about violence and I suppose the continuity is there for all to see.
AS: Unfortunately for me, recently… I decided on a light book, filled with impressionistic brush strokes as the theme of my travels on a Vespa through South Africa and that I was to be liberated from my morbid inclinations but then Marikana happened as I was writing and shazam, back we go. Summer Love hides a tragic story that needed to be told. So, it is what it is, because the underside of the words, carry a Phrygian (again named dark) musicality, a lamentation, a blues. And my impressions of Durban’s coastline that set me off on the poem you just quoted were about a serene peace after a day of stoning and gas and of another row of shacks being chewed up by the bulldozer. But I conclude, because I
tiptoe past the bulldozer
Its eyes are moist
Dreaming of its earth-mother
In some abandoned iron-mine.
ZB & SS: Your earliest poetry originated in the context of workers’ theatre and companies such as The Junction Avenue Theatre, as well as anti-apartheid struggle and The Black Consciousness movement in the 1970s and 80s. How important do you think activism has been to the trajectory of your poetry – its language and its concerns?
AS: Indeed…theatre was my first entry into a public space. I was stunned during the Junction Avenue days in Johannesburg by the effectiveness of the Black Consciousness poets. We teamed up with the Allahpoets led by Ingoapele Madingoane in support of the Fattis and Monis strikers. We performed in Lenasia and Soweto. They knew how to work up their audiences…Firebrands, they were! Ingoapele did his Black Trial and in Africa My Beginning, he did lines from Cesaire and from Mandela’s speech on the dock. We were to work on a joint project but it never materialised.
AS continues: Yes, with Junction we did some sterling work….Then in 1982 I met most of the exile poets in the Culture and Resistance Conference that the ANC organised in Botswana. We had a serious conversation on cooperating with Abdullah Ibrahim on his Kalahari project, where I was to be one of the lyricists. The next encounter was with the oral poets, the izimbongi of the labour movement who were re-inventing the ancient form. I learnt breathing and the necessary distance between words- where to place the commas, the semi-colons and the full-stops in public, in oral contexts. This carried over into my writing. By 1986 I penned what was to be called Ethekwini. By 1989, the Congress of South African Writers published my first collection.
ZB & SS: OK so you never sat down to write in order to be a poet. Does the dress fit now?
AS: It does and it doesn’t. There are so many people writing poems these days or better with the new technology there are so many poems circulating through the info highways that you do not get a sense of purpose or achievement.
There is a suburban comfort about what is being written by many white writers and a rap-like, mechanical splurge of words of discomfort by many black writers.
In these important times of identity searching, the announcement at the arrival of an identity completes the poem. For me this was never enough, I expected more – like Motsapi’s, like Rampolokeng’s poems. Lesego’s writing does not stop at the assertion of identity but takes us into the violently, scatological and explosive world that this arrival implies. The same with my non-binary friends, bravo, we have asserted it but how does it feel now to vomit on your dad’s head? But there are too few poets that dare go Lesego’s way. Stating your identity seems enough. At the same time, I might be too harsh, it is hard to know that making things more complicated achieves anything more! Am I wrong even to demand that it is not enough to assert, it is how you assert that matters?
ZB & SS: Your RDP Poems were a critique of the possible that never was, weren’t they? Were they the bad turn of your revolution? Did it mean that you were approaching a despairing disengagement? From popular or creative struggles?
AS: No. I was critical, sharp-tongued but not despairing. Look at my Reconstruction poem carefully, it is against despair, I will get my lovely artifice that I had made from found and scavenged bone and metal, to howl and sing despite my smart-pant comrades. I continue such themes even in this latest poetic dialogue with my Bengali friend Subhro Bandopadhyay, I can hear the screams outside the tunnel but our verses are still waist-deep in the murk, seeding. Whereas poets like Heaney could look at the bleak landscape and find surety in the flocks or the cattle in winter still hanging on because they know the regularities of the natural cycles, we are not so sure anymore, the non-human is in rebellion everywhere. It was a bleak time yes, RDP gone, HIV/AIDS, inequality, labour throwing away its compass, University life turning from bad to shit with all the new forms of managerialism, familiar fair.
ZB & SS: In your Mafika Gwala memorial lecture you say some horrific things, that you liberation movement poets, you did not just hand the matchbox back to the suburban elite and its gatekeepers, you had already pissed on them.
AS: It came out wrong through an editorial deletion. I never said piss. It was Mafika Gwala who said “that” as a point of regret. He was right though, in the rush to build the new, we re-accepted the old forms and “we” even handed cultural leadership to Inkatha. What I said elsewhere is that I knew the rainbow was brittle, and that it would shatter. Since then, I have been dealing with the rainbow’s shards. The broader scene…come on. What is considered “valid” art these days is the one that absents William Kentridge’s Soho Eckstein (the Rich Guy, the Mining Boss, the Tycoon) to only focus on the tortured self of Felix Teitelbaum, and with it, it absents the core reason of whiteness in the country. Go back to his kinetic art, study Soho and Felix and let us talk again… And then, creative writing became a University-degree and for this to happen it needed systematisation and new arbitrary distinctions about good or bad, what is publishable or not. Like the teaching of jazz, it had to construct a canon. And with the few publishers around the circle closes keeping the township out, then the township shouts and there are a few voices uploaded as long as they perform in the groove.
ZB & SS: But who is your audience?
AS: I do have an audience; it is diverse but mostly black because of the nature of the work I did or do. Musical work has helped too but that is another story. Since I avoid patronage networks, I am out of the loop about what is “in” or “out”!
ZB & SS: It is very significant that you take poetry out of the self, and engage with voices around as well as voices from the past – creating and recreating characters. A good example of that is your book-length poem: Slave Trades that has multiple voices from Ethiopia in the context of Arthur Rimbaud’s time there in the 1880s onwards. How did that work come about and, to quote you, “almost destroyed” you in the process?
AS: Simple: I was biting off more than I could chew. I had to read and research a lot, I had to speak to lots of people and work out histories, sociologies, aesthetic nuances before I could construct the voices. I was sucked into all that and had periods of intense writing and then, nothing. Days and days of nothing. I had to know as much as any Ethiopian knew about the past but still learn how to remain a stranger, a farenji.
ZB & SS: There is consensus that your Slave Trades book was an astonishing achievement, your reconstruction of Rimbaud in Ethiopia is seen as the pinnacle of your work and it is more than twenty years old! Rustum Kozain said something like that, didn’t he? To anyone’s surprise, I see it resurfacing and circulated by Chimurenga as if it is new, what brought it back from the dead?
AS: Coincidence. Many think that my recent Notes for an Oratorio of Small Things is the “pinnacle”. Chimurenga took Slave Trades on recently but also punted past books of mine and a young Joburg writer picked it up, made a big thing of it in New Frame and as the Tigray war escalated many Ethiopians went to it, thanks to the Chimurenga networks. But yes, Slave Trades wrote me rather than the other way around. All I did was the research I keep on telling people. Anyway, I did the first part whilst hiding in a small cottage and showed it to Berold who said, holy shit, what’s this, and we had it typed out for New Coin. Then the pressure was on, where were the other parts? It took another 5 years, with another section of it published in New Coin and it was finished by 2000 so I could show it to my friend Sam Assefa and then to his friends who helped me so much with it!
ZB & SS: The restlessness in your verse is a political agitation. How has Marikana shaped your poetry from 2012 onwards? Your poem on Marikana – how does that lead to the travel through Mzansi, in your book of poetry, The Vespa Diaries? Your poetry, like your work with theatre, looks closely at the world. And it travels, taking the reader along on a journey she is surprised by. For example, in Around the World in Eighty Days: The India Section, you again create a new world, a new topos, many voices. How do your work with theatre and your poetry influence each other?
AS: Wandering, traveling, tramping- yes, I am restless. I draw maps all the time. After Ethiopia, it had to be India and then when friends started saying, we are losing you, I had to hit the road in South Africa. Marikana happened when I was on that journey. It was supposed to be a soft book, like a series of impressionist paintings like I said before, but then Marikana happened. I was in Rustenburg in 2011, I had to return to its Wonderkop after the killings. I am moving up and down landscapes creating my own passageworks – it could be Boksburg or Bahia, Baghdad or Calcutta – we do need an international of the imagination. The more I travel, the more I drill locally. But the “theatrical” is always there, it creeps in, I can’t control it.
ZB & SS: You were born in Cyprus, how much of a Cypriot is left of you in your work?
AS: Undoubtedly having lived an intense first 8 years of my life in the midst of anticolonial ferment there, having listened to my first stories there, having swallowed up fears, witnessed the undead and dead, read the Iliad, rode a donkey etc…it is a feeling that must drive itself through me through time. I am a South African of Cypriot descent but this is empty, the box needs colours. What is true, and it must show, is that I was not brought into language the same way as many of my poetry friends have here in South Africa. And remember, I came into poetry after more than a decade of theatre and movement work.
ZB & SS: Was Literature your pet subject at school? Where you a teacher’s special pet?
AS: No. I did well. But I was always fascinated by maths. I topped my class in English in Cyprus but poetry crept through two different clandestine doors. It was never in English. First it was the nationalist ferment and street-life. The Ancients became very important: we are not driftwood, we come from a long way back was the sentiment. We didn’t have comics, we had Homer, we had Medea killing off her kids. I drew the entire Iliad at 4, redrew it at 5. The streets: the wandering street poets who would sell the print-outs of their poems for a penny, street to street, orating the gruesome murders and all of the unrequited loves; and of course, daily political events. The second was when the Junta in Greece prescribed poetry set books, our best teacher of the year, Aris Georgiou, would say for those of you who want to read real poetry, come after class. Intrigued by the allure of the illegal we spent sleepless nights with Ritsos, Elytis, Kazantzakis, yes, even Kavafis and Hikmet. I can’t recall if I wrote anything of substance then. My mother kept a large file of my antics which was turned to a brick after the Natal Floods of 1987 did what they do: flood and turn paper into solid blocks.
ZB & SS: Your mother had a lot to do with your creativity?
AS: My mother was a very creative woman. She decided to send me to technical training rather than a grammar school because I was a fantasy boy. Like her really. She was a fantasy girl. Lawrence Durrell appointed her in charge of the Tourism office in Limassol – he was the Colony’s Cultural Attache then. She told me not to read his Bitter Lemons, his famous book about his disappointment about the island. She could not stand her boss, he was full of upper-class disdain, she thought. She was into performance and ran a puppet theatre group in Cyprus and later on in Johannesburg. She was very fond of our work in Junction Avenue Theatre Company and by the way, she was the first to translate for me Jean Paul Sartre’s essay on Negritude, his Black Orpheus.
ZB & SS: You have children, how do they respond to you being dressed up as a poet?
AS: I don’t think they read my poetry. Or when they hear me read in public sometimes, they gesture Hi-Five-and give me the slap or smack. Astrid, whom we have not mentioned who is the mother of the three of them, gets confused about which poem fits where which is fine, but we avoid talking about them too much because, she insists, I get defensive, so we find a balance in not talking about them often. Slave Trades she agrees is something special. Who reads my work before it goes to print lately is Karen Press, she has a formidable eye for detail and she is a good friend. We are such opposite creatures in everyday life, that our conversations are like planets crashing into each other. We worked closely on a number of projects and I respect her insights without reservation. Composer friends do go through my stuff often looking for a line or two.
ZB & SS: Your poetry, like your work with theatre, creates soundscapes. It works closely with sound and tonalities. Can you elaborate on the importance of listening?
AS: Sound and music are always there. Writing my first poems felt as if I was part of an explosive jazz quartet. I was definitely beyond Bebop. After Tropical Scars I did write poems and lyrics that could be turned into songs and they were. Songs, Shoeshine and Piano was all about me playing with rhythmic and musical forms. The intense rhythmic slowed down later into long raga-like cycles. It was obvious that I would turn towards music once I found the right people. Which I did.
ZB & SS: Your friends think of you as a sonic genius, your extravagant Ensemble work, the librettos you have churned out with other poets, and all the other dimensions of your life intimidate people. I know you like Walt Whitman, do you contain multitudes?
AS: Wait, wait…too much in one question. sonic Genius is a dress I will not wear. Walt Whitman, I like some of his work but not all – we all contain, in his words, multitudes. Yes, I know about music and work with sublime musicians, composers, singers, my Music Notebook thanks to them is being published as we speak. But genius? Nah. I make noise, I break the enharmonic, I kill rhythms. It has been a pleasure being a lyricist where words are secondary to the music. Poetry does not guarantee a loaf of bread at all, professionally I am a sociologist, I taught stuff, I surveyed, I counted, I balanced and unbalanced planets, but there is no abyss between writing poetry, fiction and social science. The one infects the other. I do what I have to do – I am also quite good at the design of systems and planning of processes, so I do some high-level interventions if I believe in the outcomes.
ZB & SS: But you are canonised, you are the recipient of honours, has that been a burden, has it removed you from the sources of your creativity, your working-class contacts and networks, are you finally where your actual class status places you? At the top, looking down?
AS: It is a hard question. There is nothing petty or pretty about my bourgeois location. My working-class friends as you call them are mostly in KZN. For some time now they wanted me out of their everyday and to behave as a Prof. To be “useful” when they called me. Prof there, Us here! I was giving a keynote to the Workers’ College graduation in late November when I was pointed out as the author of the very Theoretical Parables they have to deal with to get their certificates! They struggle with them year in, year out. I have also helped design many of their educational courses. I am also their surviving historian, diarist and to “go to” person. There was a moment when I was part of the leadership of the Chris Hani Institute when it was decided to be opened to the broadest possible left assemblage possible, preparing for a Lula moment. Then the splits happened and re-happened, so I was left as the only person to sign audits without another for a second signature. Vavi this way, Maphaila that way, David Masondo this way, Irwin Jim that way, Eddie Webster this way Blade Nzimande that way. So, we closed shop. It was re-opened as an Alliance research wing. Most of the people working there now, were my students once upon a time. So they keep me in the loop. My move to Cape Town has put me at some distance from the “familiar.” But I am being recalled to reconstruct the 70s and 80s often. I do not pretend to be where I am not, I am where I can be.
ZB & SS: Do you think “relevance” survives as a pressure these days in poetry? Can it stop Gwede Mantashe?
AS: Do you think it could stop John Vorster? Did our poetry and music stop the hanging of Saro Wiwa? Did it stop wars? No. I see it as a slow transgressive worm, a kind of good parasite that accumulates a structure of feeling and becomes slowly consciousness-creating, disposition-crafting until a landscape of discord to the status quo emerges and a generation says, enough – not this… bad that. The poets have to show what Gwede’s miner friends have done to the landscape of Pondoland in evocative and powerful ways, until the naked interests of his bravado are shown to all, then shit may happen. I said once, that after reading Marquez, it is hard to bomb Macondo. I believe in that.
ZB & SS: Do you consciously experiment with your lines?
AS: Who doesn’t? But I don’t start from a decision: let us experiment. Even amongst my izimbongi-friends experimentation develops with the cumulation of metaphors. The best experimenters with lines are children, I love the way they play with words. The only experiment that didn’t work was my attempt to write about the victims of the London bombings – I had gathered the life stories and working dreams of those who were exploded and then “exploded” the lines and restitched them from the floor, so the dismembering of bodies and dreams can be shown in the “poem”. It didn’t work, I think. It is the only poem that is not being mentioned by friends in that collection or when it is, it needs explanation. It was part of my re-working the 80 Days Around the World that starts from London, a poem for the globalising world. Boom went London.
ZB & SS: Poetry for performance. Poetry as performance. Can you elaborate on how you conceive of longer texts – visual, oral, and performative – such as the feature-length projects of the Afro-Asia project, Insurrections Ensemble, or Dark Things, or 1973: The Story of a Strike, and other collaborative work? What does your process as a writer involve?
AS: This is a Sabitha question! You know the answer! You, Vivek and I and a range of other poets found a common cause to explore the relationship between voice, sound, word and the tonal. We had to learn to listen and try and impress our musical compeers! We had to learn humility. And we had to let music and the image to really invade our innards. I think a book of the lyrics of the Insurrections Ensemble is a must! Then with great difficulty we moved performance towards a new-found theatricality – Storming is a good example of that. The loose adaptation of Cesaire’s Tempest. It had characters and plots. Then came the challenge of meeting theatrical wonders in Anuradha Kapur and Deepan Sivaraman in Delhi who grabbed texts and poetry, my Oratorio for example, and turned it into a visual neo-constructivist explosion. By then, the visual entered in earnest when the Asian Art Archive invited our historical project in AfroAsia to go and join their celebrations. Then COVID struck. But in its interstices we did manage another two major musical and visual works with deep historical roots: Sea-Drift of Songs and Giraffe Humming. It involved the work of very serious artists, puppeteers and animation specialists. And when Durban called, we did a re-rendition of the strikes and when Cyprus called we toyed with Othello to deal with Race, Slavery and violence. This interview is about poetry: Poetry remains at the heart of what we do.
ZB & SS: You have been anthologised 3-4 times in Contemporary South African Poetry editions, you must at least be happy about that?
AS: You are asking me to say something controversial, aren’t you? Of course, I am pleased about that, as much as I am curious. The editors are three great white men, with a strong sense of the poetic who are presenting a broad scope which they consider as a continuum and departure from something. In each one of them the white ballast gets too heavy though. Had Mazisi Kunene or Mafika Gwala been asked to produce such a volume, it would look different! Mazisi would have searched I am sure for its links to an African aesthetic, Gwala to a Black aesthetic, so ¾ of what has been anthologised would disappear. Had the project been handed over to Yaa de Villiers or Molebatsi, ¾ of what Mazisi would have chosen would disappear and women’s, black women’s, non-binary women’s voices would appear. What South African poetry is, is on an unstable inqola masondosondo (make-shift oxcart) or since I used the word “ballast”, a wobbly dhow! Then comes the issue of translation – I have been translated and have been included as an example of something in other imaginations that construct the “South African”. Then I find myself in French in a diasporic collection next to Césaire – it is an honour and an embarrassment.
ZB & SS: But Césaire has been a lasting influence, hasn’t he? You said so often, and two of your Insurrection Ensemble’s impressive works, Storming, and Of Wounds and Hands are direct and indirect responses to his work. And I hear you wrote a major sociological essay on his aesthetic prowess. It is OK for Keith Jarrett to be a disciple of McCoy Tyner and McLaughlin a disciple of Ravi Shankar, and of Yo Yo Ma to be a disciple of Bach, but are you so Race-whacked as to feel uncomfortable in such a relationship?
AS: I love some of Césaire without discomfort. I do not like quite a lot of it too, perhaps I am dealing with bad translations. When Ntone Edjabe of Chimurenga fame, asked why don’t I rather play with Rene Menil, at least he was not a “sell-out”, I had no substantive answer. I just think that some of Césaire’s poetry is awesome… outrageously good. Some of Menil is great and it is a pity that some of Souzanne Roussi/Césaire’s plays have been lost. We can talk about all that forever! Remember, creatively I am of the late 70s and 80s, we were not in awe of the previous generation, in fact we either met the generation and listened to them as our elders (with enormous failures in their political work, we thought) or worked with their children in anti-apartheid movements and struggles. There is no magical aura there. The younger generation has raised them into Black or African demi-gods. They somehow needed to. I am not a “disciple”. My point anyway was not who I am but how editors chose what I or others are, we are made to represent “something”.
ZB & SS: You seem to be very well accepted in India and spend a lot of time there, and on this continent’s East Coast, you seem to be working with Tanzanians and Ethiopians a lot, have you abandoned any idea of engaging with the West?
AS: I don’t know, one thing leads to another and at the moment, the reception of what I am trying to do seems to resonate well in the spaces you described (also the so-called Middle East and Latin America, lately). I am not a Europhobe at all, but there is no way I can occupy anything but the margins there, even though as an Ensemble and as poets we even played with Shakespeare and even dared to play with his most racially controversial works. We will always be marginal. The Royal Shakespeare Company wouldn’t respond to even a letter asking for some factual advice on a minor matter of information… we are small fry…but we enjoy the good wishes and support of many diasporic communities, helping us/me to occupy the margins they occupy, better. But poetry? I am too busy with my Indian friends. As you know Poetrywalla publishers in Mumbai have just come out with our Mapping Gondwana book which s beginning to make the rounds and Vivek Narayanan, Sabitha Satchi and I are plotting something for 2023. Let’s call it, Must Gandhi Fall? Must Gandhi Crawl?
ZB & SS: Not many established publishers go for poetry books these days. You were lucky to find outlets over the years, what about the hundreds who dream of a published book but who will never get one?
AS: Yes. There are some journals still that appreciate poets and there are many online outlets. True there are controlling processes, so unless you know someone, you are not “in”. There are multiple networks and each network has its core movers and shakers. There are those who monopolise resources and those who are outside with need, greed and envy. Watch for instance what the FMR (Fine music Radio) publicises or punts, what the SABC punts, what the Jozi Book Fair punts, the Centre for Creative Arts punts, I can go on forever just from impressionistic sources like radio or Facebook. There are quite a few who declare the good and the bad. My struggles in the old days in Culture and Working Life and in the Congress of SA Writers was to break down gates, cut fences and chastise the gatekeepers. I don’t want to see fences of a new kind, with new gate-keepers. But the barbed wire is under manufacture as we speak.
ZB & SS: What would help in such a situation?
AS: I joked with Gus Ferguson once and he liked my joke but we did not take it any further. I wanted to suggest with a straight face the need for some regulation in the production of poetry and the work of poets. And that all poetry journals should carry the announcement: That you could get a licence or a learners’ licence as a poet from the RDP office. We could not agree on a registration fee, but a committee was working on it. You then would have to produce 40 grams of poems a week to keep it. 3 weeks’ default would have you re-apply, 6 weeks’ default would have you cancelled. But each A4 standard page could not be handed-in with poems that took up one tenth of the page because each line had two or three or even (what a diabolical thought) had one word. The empty white parts should be scissored out before the weigh-in. Or the alternative was to bunch the words up yourself although there would be no guarantee that the Bureau would not disqualify you for pretence-poetry whereas what you were doing was sheer prose. After 6-months of demonstrable productivity you could receive the Poet’s Grant which would be half of what was statutory for Children Grants. I had the late Mvuse Mgeyane lined up to announce this on Morning Live on April 1 then with Pitika Ntuli, Don Mattera and Willie Kgositsile on standby to be interviewed about it. They loved the joke. It never happened.
ZB & SS: But then what guaranteed their publication?
The Bureau of course. No poetry journal would hitherto have the right to refuse a poem from a bona fide poet. It would be total freedom for poets. You would decide on the journal and send it. If the registration fee was R300 for the year, then the journal would get a third. Win-win as the Chinese say! How about calling the bureau- the Bureau of the Good and Better Line! That would sort out the hundreds of gate-keepers who, through some cultural osmosis, have the arrogance to believe that they can judge and pronounce on quality!
ZB & SS: Do you not pronounce on quality?
AS: I pronounce on what I like and sometimes give reasons of why I do but I do not engage with pronouncements on quality.
ZB & SS: Seriously now?
AS: OK. I am an idealist. Most poets I know look after other poets. I don’t think novelists do that, do they? This is not a perfect system and it does bring with it psychological forms of violence, but I think the mistake is to think of it as a system.
*His poetry collections: Tropical Scars (1989, Congress of South African Writers), Songs, Shoeshine and Piano (1991, Congess of South African Writers), Slave Trades (2000: Deep South) , RDP Poems (2004: Madiba Press), Rough Music (2014: Deep South) , 80 Days Around the World: the India Section (2014: UNISA Press);Vespa Diaries (2018: SAHO Publishers) Oratorio for Small Things that Fall in the Dark (2020: Tulika Press, Columbia University Press); Mapping Gondwana (2021: PoetryWallah Publishers) ; Music: Insurrections (2014); The Gathering/Mayihloma/Aawan (2016), Storming (2017), Threads of Sorrow (2018), Transgressions (2019); Sea-Drift of Songs (2020), Of Wounds, Of Hands (2021),Giraffe Humming(2022). (all available now at www. insurrectionsensemble.com save Of Wounds…password protected)